Every NHL Team's Greatest Concern for the 2013-14 Season

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IJuly 22, 2013

Every NHL Team's Greatest Concern for the 2013-14 Season

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    NHL teams are rarely perfect, and teams such as the New York Rangers are concerned with their overall health heading into the 2013-14 season.

    Other franchises still have concerns about re-signing restricted free agents, their role in a new division and which players will fill out the roster.

    The summer months continue to droll on, but here is each NHL team's greatest concern for the 2013-14 season.

Anaheim Ducks

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    Biggest Concern: Lack of a No. 2 Center

    Entering the 2013-14 season, either Andrew Cogliano or Saku Koivu will center the second line. Ideally, both are solid bottom-six centers, and having one of them on the second line could inhibit scoring.

    Former B/R contributor and current SB Nation blogger Kyle Nicolas thinks that the Ducks still need to add a No. 2 center.

    Adding a true No. 2 center would add offensive depth to the team, and it would strengthen the team's bottom six by pushing Cogliano and Koivu down the depth chart.

Boston Bruins

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    Biggest Concern: Veteran Defensive Depth

    The Boston Bruins have four veteran defenders on their roster, and the rest of their blueliners are young rookies. While Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski have promise, they are still inexperienced.

    The Bruins lost Andrew Ference and Wade Redden this summer, and they failed to add meaningful defensive depth to their roster. Defense has always been a strength of the Bruins. They should add a veteran just to add some stability to the blue line.

Buffalo Sabres

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    Biggest Concern: Defense

    The Buffalo Sabres were wise to draft defensemen at the 2013 NHL draft, because it is their biggest area of concern as an organization. The Sabres' depth chart of defenders is pretty weak. Christian Ehrhoff will be looked upon to lead the troops.

    The Sabres have some budding youngsters like Mikhail Grigorenko and Cody Hodgson who can help offensively, but defense is a major area of concern.

Calgary Flames

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    Biggest Concern: Goaltending

    Miikka Kiprusoff is gone, and Karri Ramo is the de-facto starter for the Calgary Flames. Veteran Joey MacDonald will be the Flames' backup, and that is the current goaltending situation for Calgary. 

    The Flames really need to secure a netminder, and they could be in for a rough 2013-14 season. 

Carolina Hurricanes

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    Biggest Concern: Depth on the Wings

    The Carolina Hurricanes are set at center with Tuomo Ruutu, Eric and Jordan Staal, but they have holes on the wing. Alex Semin, Jiri Tlusty and Jeff Skinner are the extent of depth on the wing.

    When you factor in Skinner's injury history and Semin's tendency to be inconsistent, the Hurricanes could stand to add another top-six winger before the start of the season.

Chicago Blackhawks

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    Biggest Concern: N/A

    The Chicago Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions. They have a mix of veteran contributors and youngsters and should contend in 2013-14.

    The Blackhawks did a solid job shedding some salary, while maintaining the makeup of their roster, and they don't have any glaring concerns heading into the 2013-14 season.

Colorado Avalanche

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    Biggest Concern: Top Defenseman

    The Colorado Avalanche are set offensively with a tremendous blend of young forwards with skills. However, the Avs lack a true top defenseman who can anchor a blue line. Erik Johnson could have been that guy, but he hasn't developed as planned.

    Tyson Barrie also has potential, but dealing from offensive depth to add a top defenseman is something that would really strengthen the Avs' overall depth.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Biggest Concern: Lack of a No. 1 Center

    Adding Nathan Horton was a great start, but the Columbus Blue Jackets still need a No. 1 pivot. Ryan Johansen projects to be a solid No. 2 center, and Boone Jenner is not yet ready to be a top-line center. Artem Anisimov has promise, but ideally, he is a good second-line center.

    The Blue Jackets' overall roster is promising because of the number of youngsters they have, but they still are searching for a No. 1 pivot.

Dallas Stars

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    Biggest Concern: Top Defenseman

    The Dallas Stars have limited cap and roster space after making numerous deals for forwards, but they sorely need a defender who can anchor the blue line.

    Sergei Gonchar was a nice addition to provide a veteran presence, but the Stars need to find their next Derian Hatcher.

Detroit Red Wings

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    Biggest Concern: Defensive Depth

    Outside of Niklas Kronwall, the Detroit Red Wings lack legitimate top-pairing defenders. While Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey provided some value last season, neither are a true top-pairing defender.

    They did a solid job filling out the lineup last season, but the Red Wings' newest offensive additions won't matter if the team can't defend.


Edmonton Oilers

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    Biggest Concern: Top Pairing of Defense

    Edmonton has a solid group of young forwards that could lead the franchise to greatness. The franchise is hoping that goaltender Devan Dubnyk can progress this season, but the biggest concern remains its defense.

    Andrew Ference will solidify the second pairing, but the first pairing still remains a question mark. Can Justin Schultz take the next step defensively, and will one of the Oilers' prospects make the jump?

    There are a lot of questions to be answered, and the top pairing of defense is the biggest question remaining.

Florida Panthers

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    Biggest Concern: Defensive Strength

    The Florida Panthers have seven defenders on the roster for the 2013-14 season, but they lack meaningful depth. Brian Campbell, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson are the team's top three blueliners. There is a massive drop in talent after that.

    Ed Jovanovski was once a top blueliner, but age is starting to catch up with him. Going forward, the Panthers are set at forward, so they should look to improve their defense through free agency and the draft.

Los Angeles Kings

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    Biggest Concern: Left Wing Depth

    The Los Angeles Kings have enough depth at center and right wing, but who is going to play on the left wing? When looking at the depth chart, it isn't encouraging, and the Kings could have some interesting decisions to make.

    The Kings' top two lines can survive without a top left winger, but it would be prudent to address that issue so the roster is as strong as possible for the upcoming season.

Minnesota Wild

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    Biggest Concern: Health of Niklas Backstrom

    The Minnesota Wild don't have many needs heading into the 2013-14 season. The only area that could be questioned is the health of Niklas Backstrom. Injuries have been a concern with Backstrom over the past few years, and, at age 35, he is no spring chicken. 

    Backstrom is still a talented goaltender who can carry a team, but if he gets injured, the Wild could be in a world of trouble.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Biggest Concern: Will Carey Price Remain Consistent?

    If you look at Carey Price's career numbers, you will notice that he usually follows a good year up with a bad year.

    Last season was a good year for Price in which he posted a 21-13-4 record. The previous year, he went 26-28-11 in 65 games.

    By looking at his overall numbers, per Hockey-Reference.com, you will see that the trend continues, so the Canadiens will hope that he can buck the trend in 2013-14.

Nashville Predators

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    Biggest Concern: Do the Predators have enough scoring depth?

    The Nashville Predators signed some forwards this summer, but do they have enough scoring depth?

    The addition of Viktor Stalberg was a good start, but the team still has a huge hole at the right wing position. Filip Forsberg is expected to get a chance in the top six this season, and he could help fill the void.

    The Predators wisely drafted Seth Jones to solidify their defensive depth, but the offense might struggle again during the 2013-14 season.

New Jersey Devils

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    Biggest Concern: Replacing Production of Kovalchuk

    Ilya Kovalchuk's decision to retire really puts the New Jersey Devils in an awkward position—at least for the interim.

    If he knew he wanted to retire, Kovy should have made his announcement before the start of free agency. It is all good and well that the Devils will have cap space and financial flexibility, but who can they sign?

    Kovalchuk was the Devils' biggest draw, and after Martin Brodeur retires, the franchise will be faceless. This could be a tough season for the Devils. They will need to find a replacement for Kovalchuk soon.

New York Islanders

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    Biggest Concern: Needs Another Top-Four Defenseman

    The New York Islanders added great prospects to the blue line at the draft, but they currently carry too many bottom-pairing defenders. What they lack are legitimate top-four defenders, and blueliners who can anchor the blue line.

    Outside of Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnovsky, the Islanders don't have any notable defenders, and it will be a while until Ryan Pullock and Griffin Reinhart make their NHL debuts.

New York Rangers

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    Biggest Concern: Team Health

    Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and Marc Staal could miss some time to start the season, and that would leave the Blueshirts with some holes.

    Missing two top-six forwards and a top-four defender is no way for a contender to start the season. The curious decision to keep Brad Richards handcuffed Glen Sather's ability to improve the roster. The New York Rangers could have a rough start to the 2013-14 season.

Ottawa Senators

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    Biggest Concern: Defensive Depth

    The Ottawa Senators' defense is suspect outside of their top two pairings. Once the franchise re-signs their key RFAs, the depth will improve, but the franchise failed to address the loss of Sergei Gonchar.

    Joe Corvo ideally isn't a top-six defender, and that is the role he is slated to fill in 2013-14. 

Philadelphia Flyers

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    Biggest Concern: Becoming Salary Cap Compliant

    The Philadelphia Flyers revamped their roster this summer, but they are over the salary cap, per Cap Geek. Even though GM Paul Holmgren used two amnesty buyouts, the Flyers are still in the danger zone. Before the start of the season, they will need to clear significant cap space for a variety of reasons.

    Chris Pronger's salary will be moved to LTIR, but the Flyers still could use some operating room if they have to make moves during the season.

Phoenix Coyotes

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    Biggest Concern: Left Wing Depth

    The Phoenix Coyotes are set at center after signing Mike Ribeiro to a five-year contract, but left wing is an area of concern. Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata have the right side covered, but Lauri Korpikpski is currently the Coyotes' top left winger.

    In order to foster balance in the top six, it would be prudent for GM Don Maloney to make a deal. The Coyotes have defensive depth, and dealing from strength could ultimately reinforce the team.

Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Biggest Concern: Marc-Andre Fleury

    If Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't in goal during the first round, odds are that the Pittsburgh Penguins would have swept the New York Islanders. Fleury's ineptitude as a netminder gave the Islanders a chance, and it was the reason he was benched during the second round.

    The Penguins have invested a lot of money in their core, and if Fleury doesn't get the job done this year, he could be sent packing. It is inexcusable that this group of Penguins has only won a single Stanley Cup, because they have the firepower to be a dominant power. 


San Jose Sharks

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    Biggest Concern: Potentially Losing Joe Pavelski to Free Agency

    It isn't likely, but the San Jose Sharks could lose Joe Pavelski to free agency. Pavelski is set to become a UFA next summer, and according to Kevin Kurz of CSN, contract extension talks are currently ongoing.

    Pavelski is a young center/winger with a ton of potential, and he is bound to use Dustin Brown's most recent contract as a comparable. He is one of the Sharks' most valuable players because he can be slotted at any position throughout the team's top nine. 

    It would be ideal to get Pavelski signed before next summer, but don't be surprised if he tests the waters on July 5, 2014.

St. Louis Blues

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    Top Concern: Re-Signing Alex Pietrangelo

    At this juncture, re-signing Alex Pietrangelo is the St. Louis Blues' top priority and concern. Pietrangelo is one of the best young defenders in the NHL, and he could get a mega salary from the Blues. 

    Doug Armstrong vowed that he "would do whatever was necessary" to keep Pietrangelo, and the Blues hope to keep him at a friendly cap number. (h/t beat writer Lou Korac


Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Top Concern: Solidifying Defense

    Steve Yzerman signed Valtteri Filppula to pivot the Tampa Bay Lightning's second line, but he has failed to address the team's defense. Last season, the Lightning ranked No. 4 in most goals-per-game allowed with an average of 3.06.

    Ben Bishop may be able to drive that number down with dominant play in the crease, but it is obvious that the Lightning blue line needs an upgrade or two.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Biggest Concern: Who Will Be The Starting Goaltender?

    James Reimer had a solid 2012-13 season, and he led the Toronto Maple Leafs to the playoffs, but he may not be the starter this season. Jonathan Bernier is expected to challenge Reimer for the starting job, and this is currently the biggest decision for Dave Nonis and Randy Carlyle to make.

    Every other position on the roster is just about accounted for, and the goaltending battle may not be solved until after the preseason.

Vancouver Canucks

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    Biggest Concern: How Will Roster Adjust to John Tortorella?

    Get ready for a shakeup Vancouver Canuck fans. Get prepared to see "the Twins" block some shots, and get ready for some explosive press conferences. John Tortorella is in town, and he is going to bring some change.

    How the roster will adjust remains to be seen. Tortorella wants to adapt for his newest job, but the biggest concern for the Canucks will be how their team adjusts to their new bench boss.

Washington Capitals

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    Biggest Concern: Replacing Mike Ribeiro

    Mike Ribeiro signed with the Phoenix Coyotes during free agency. As a result, the Washington Capitals will have Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich pivot the top two lines.

    With limited options in the farm system, Laich and Backstrom will have to get the job done until Evgeny Kuznetsov defects from the KHL to the NHL.

    It goes without saying, but George McPhee probably is regretting the Martin Erat-Filip Forsberg trade at this point. 

Winnipeg Jets

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    Biggest Concern: Rounding Out Top Six

    The Winnipeg Jets were quiet during free agency, and they made their moves via trade. Despite their wheeling and dealing, the Jets still need a top-line center. Mark Scheifele should return to the team from the Barrie Colts, but he may not be ready to pivot the top-line.

    The Jets have good depth on both the wings, but they lack a dynamic two-way center. If the Jets could land someone like Mikhail Grabovski, they would finally have some depth at center.