Some teams prepared themselves very well for this coming NHL season. Others had an opportunity to improve their team and failed to do so.
With the season drawing near, it is easier to see on paper who needed to do a bit more to make themselves playoff contenders or Stanley Cup contenders.
This list will cover the teams that did not do enough in free agency to make anyone feel comfortable about their chances in the spring.
While the Islanders are on this list, Garth Snow can look at himself in the mirror and can't say he didn't try. He traded with the Canucks for the rights to unrestricted free agent Christian Ehroff before July 1st. When Ehroff showed little interest in joining the Islanders, Snow sent him to Buffalo where he signed a 10-year, $40 million, cap circumventing contract.
The Islanders are not an attractive place for top tier free agents. Having said that, the Islanders could have used some help in free agency to compliment the young talent that they have. Islanders fans have endured rebuilding for too long, and now is the time where the kids should be budding.
Taveras will improve and the Islanders should be a sneaky playoff contender. If they had gotten more free agency help, I would have felt more comfortable about their chances.
The Nashville Predators have three big problems at the end of this season, and their names are Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne, all of whom are some sort of free agent after this season. With Nashville's personal salary cap, it is hard to believe that they will keep all three players.
This year would seem to be a year where Nashville would put all the chips in the middle to try and make a deep playoff run. With a Vezina Finalist in net, a stellar defense and a deep forward corps, Nashville is close to being a true contender. David Poile recognizes this, but is handicapped by the lack of money the franchise has for players (see Franson, Cody trade of).
Nashville, like Long Island, is not a preferable destination for hockey players. Nashville has a hard time bringing in big-time free agents, so it's hard to fault the organization. If Nashville gets off to a slow start, expect them to be sellers at the trade deadline.
While they did sign Tomas Kaberle to help the defense, they lost forward Erik Cole to Montreal. Jeff Skinner could take a step back this season in his sophomore year. Cam Ward can always keep his team in the game, but he can only do so much.
Carolina needed to get deeper, which they failed to do. Carolina should be a playoff contender, but I really don't feel comfortable that this team can make the playoffs this season.
Coming off a devastating Stanley Cup Final loss, I'm interested to see how the Canucks respond this season. They have a roster that is capable of making a run again, but will the same emotion and fire be there? A team can respond in two ways: work harder to avoid disappointment or underachieve because of the heart-break of last season.
The Canucks lost Christian Ehroff to Buffalo and Raffi Torres to Phoenix. The Canucks don't have an enforcer on the team to protect the team's skill players. I think the Canucks need an additional piece or two to come back from last year's disappointment.
The Tampa Bay Lightning overachieved last season. The Lightning made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals and were within one game of reaching the Stanley Cup.
The Lightning re-signed Steven Stamkos long-term, but who knows if Roloson can keep up his play at 41 years old. The Lightning had a lot of average players step up in the playoffs, including Dominic Moore and Dana Tyrell. I don't know if the magic will be there again this season with a target on their backs.
The Lightning are not going to surprise anyone this season. They have nearly $4 million in cap space. If they had signed a player or two, it would have made me feel better about their chances to repeat last season's success. I think the Lightning are in for a disappointing year.
With Jonas Hiller healthy again, the Ducks are certainly a playoff team in the Western Conference. However, in order to be a true Stanley Cup contender, they need another piece or two at forward.
Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are three of the most feared players on any NHL roster. After that, they rely on a lot of youth. Teemu Selanne has yet to announce if he is retiring or coming back. If he returns, it will be a big boost for the Ducks, but can he be relied upon on a long playoff run? When does his magic start to stop?
The defense is deep and should be among the top in the NHL if Hiller is healthy this whole season. The Ducks are a scary team to play, but with another forward, they could contend for the Stanley Cup.
I am a Rangers fan and I try to look at everything rationally with other teams as well as my own. Having said that, I understand that fans get connected to certain players because of their accomplishments with the team.
I did not think the Bruins were serious Stanley Cup contenders going into the playoffs last year. I thought they were overrated and a desirable 1st round matchup for a low seed. They were almost knocked out of the 1st round by Montreal.
The Bruins used stellar goaltending, great defense and took advantage of offensive opportunities all the way to the Stanley Cup. I am not knocking the Bruins in any way because they found the formula for victory.
I think it is in the best interest of the Bruins to trade Brad Marchand. I think he is overvalued by fans and the Bruins should be able to trade him if they desire to. I have used the term "magic" a lot in this article because a deep playoff run needs some luck. Every Stanley Cup champion needs luck.
Will the Bruins' luck run out? It may, which is why I think some new players are good for the franchise.
Other teams are on the border of making the playoffs. Some teams on this list are more concerned with that rather than a deep playoff run. Getting a free agent or two should be the difference between being a true contender or being a pretender.
These seven teams need some help to prove they will have a successful season, whether that's the Stanley Cup or just making the playoffs.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment.
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