Every NHL Team's Biggest Offseason Need in 2015

Steve Macfarlane@@MacfarlaneHKYFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2015

Every NHL Team's Biggest Offseason Need in 2015

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    Here we go again.

    For the third time in six seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions. And for the third time in six seasons, the champs are looking at significant changes in order to keep the highly paid stars together for a crack at a fourth.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty to be proud of after losing in six games in the Stanley Cup Final, but they too face some questions about their future, especially captain Steven Stamkos. The NHL draft and the July 1 free-agency kickoff are coming up next, and there could be plenty of action as every team gets back into the big picture in executing its offseason plans.

    For an early peek at what could be coming in the weeks ahead, click through this team-by-team slideshow to see what each team's greatest need is at the moment—whether it's a scoring touch, a new attitude or just a minor tweak in personnel.

Anaheim Ducks: A New Deal for Matt Beleskey

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Why they need it: When a team does as well as the Ducks did this year, finishing one win away from the Stanley Cup Final, there's not a lot to fix. But the team could lose winger Matt Beleskey to free agency, and defenseman Francois Beauchemin is a pending unrestricted free agent as well. Beleskey's impressive playoff performance would be hard to replace, as would be Beauchemin's veteran presence on the blue line.

    How they get it: They would have to overpay for Beleskey if he hits the open market, but that could be a cheaper option than trying to add a scorer via trade. Someone like Phil Kessel would be a nice addition but would come at the cost of one of their premier young defensemen. The team does have lots of cap space to work with.

Arizona Coyotes: A Stable Playing Environment

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    Why they need it: Just when you think the ownership is stable and things are headed in the right direction, the city council decides to renege on the arena lease in Glendale, requiring the team to ask for a restraining order to delay the move. So while the team itself is loaded with potential young stars and more to come in this year's draft, the franchise has become a soap opera.

    How they get it: It might be time to move the franchise to Quebec, like NHLPA agent Ian Pulver suggested via Twitter. Or we could adopt a unique new concept of a no-home franchise inspired by Mad Max that Adam Proteau of the Hockey News threw out.

Boston Bruins: Forward Depth

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    Why they need it: The Carl Soderberg line was often the Bruins' best last season, with injuries to David Krejci and the loss of Jarome Iginla on the right side noticeably affecting production from the top group of forwards. The Bruins will likely lose Soderberg to free agency and still can't afford to add another top-six player from outside the organization, which means they must find affordable depth players to provide some secondary scoring.

    How they get it: With a relatively tight salary-cap scenario, the Bruins can't get into bidding wars for top unrestricted free agents. They'll have to find some bargains for the third and fourth lines unless they do something big on the trade front at the NHL draft or over the summer. There's been some talk the team could dangle Milan Lucic, which would leave a big hole to plug but could provide more depth for future years in a bit of a rebuild.

    Lucic is an interesting player, with one more year at $6 million coming off a bad season. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman suggested on Calgary's Fan 960 morning show that there are a few options for the power winger's future:

    I think Boston is having a lot of debate about, 'Do we do a contract, or do we just let him come back next year and if he has a great year, we've got to pay even more? Or do we look at a guy whose body has just taken too much and he's not going to be Milan Lucic anymore?' I don't know what Boston is thinking there. I think they've got a lot of different ideas in their mind about what to do and what not to do.

Buffalo Sabres: A Starting Goaltender

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    Why they need it: They traded away both of their NHL goaltenders at the deadline in March, and only Chad Johnson—who hasn't played a game for them after suffering an eye injury—remains under contract for the coming season. There are plenty of young up-and-comers at other positions, and it's going to take some time for the team to develop in order to be competitive again, but you can't win without a solid goalie. Unless the team wants to tank again...

    How they get it: Unless they can somehow woo Devan Dubnyk away from Minnesota or another team closer to contending, the unrestricted free-agent market is slim when it comes to goaltenders. Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks might be the next best, with Karri Ramo of the Calgary Flames and Michal Neuvirth of the New York Islanders as wild cards.

    On the trade front, they could pry a goalie—perhaps Robin Lehner—out of the glut in Ottawa. But parting with a pick or prospect isn't too attractive when they can just spend money and plug a hole temporarily.

    TSN's Darren Dreger told TSN 1200 radio (h/t Today's Slapshot's Chris Nichols) recently that Buffalo and Edmonton are interested in Lehner but that the price will be steep:

    Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators can't make the same mistake here that they made with Ben Bishop when they traded him for a fourth round draft pick. They've got to realize an excellent level of return. Could it be a draft pick and a young forward who is destined to become a top-6 in the National Hockey League? Well, that sounds like what Ottawa is looking for, or a proven top-6 forward at this stage. So the asking price is high, from Bryan Murray's perspective.

Calgary Flames: Skill with Size

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    Why they need it: Brian Burke is still the president of hockey operations, and he started what he still often calls "the arms race" for bigger bodies while winning the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, as he told the Toronto Sun's Steve Buffery a year ago:

    You need snipers and you need stars. (But) I think we started the arms race in Anaheim with a big, ugly team. We had a lot of skill on that team. It was a classic top-six, bottom-six team. Andy McDonald was a key guy on that team, Teemu Selanne was a key guy on that team. (Ryan) Getzlaf, (Corey) Perry. We scored a lot of goals. And were we big and ugly? Yeah. Our bottom six were big and ugly. And I think it started the arms race.

    I don't think you can win a championship without stars, I don't think you can win a championship without skill, but I don't think you can win a championship without sides of beef either.

    He repeated much the same in a recent interview, telling Sportsnet's Arash Madani this week he still thinks that "if you've got two evenly matched teams, the bigger team is going to win."

    Burke isn't against smaller, skilled guys and has an impressive pair of them in Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler, but the team could use some top-end skill in a bigger frame to outlast teams like Anaheim—which pounded them in Round 2 of this spring's playoffs.

    "The biggest factor in our series against Anaheim was size," Burke told Madani.

    How they get it: If a guy like Rick Nash of the New York Rangers or Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins is traded because of contract cap hits or concerns about fits with his current team, the Flames have plenty of young assets and draft picks to make a pitch.

    If nothing materializes on the trade market, they could go hard for Ducks winger and pending UFA Matt Beleskey, who scored in every single game against the Flames in their playoff series and is a physical player at 6'0" and 205 pounds. The Minnesota Wild's Chris Stewart is also a soon-to-be free agent who fits the mold.

Carolina Hurricanes: Some Patience

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    Why they need it: After missing the playoffs for a sixth straight season, it's easy to suggest a total scorched earth approach to the offseason. But the team showed some promise near the end of the season and a nice group of young players who may feed off the existing veterans who had bad seasons, including captain Eric Staal and the always puzzling Alex Semin.

    Before blowing things up by trading away Staal and potential starting goalie Cam Ward as they enter the final year of their contracts, it would be wise to see how the season begins.

    How they get it: An extension for one or both of Ward and Staal would go a long way in showing faith in a rebound season. And there's talk that is happening, with both considering signing for smaller salary-cap hits, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman told Calgary's Fan 960 radio (h/t Chris Nichols of Today's Slapshot):

    I understand that Staal and Ward both want to stay. I think that the two sides have talked about the possibility of three to four-year extensions. But obviously it comes down to the number. Eric Staal's current cap hit is 8.25. Ward's, I believe, is 6.3. My expectation is that the Hurricanes have kind of told them they'd like them to come down and my guess is they're willing to do it. I think they know it won't be at those numbers. But the question is where.

    As for Semin, he's capable of more and couldn't possibly do any more damage to his trade value in the first couple of months of the season if the Hurricanes decide to ship him out then.

Chicago Blackhawks: Salary-Cap Space

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Why they need it: In order to re-sign Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom and David Rundblad—not to mention pending UFA Johnny Oduya—the Blackhawks are going to have to shed some salary. They've have been through it before, letting guys like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg go in previous years to keep a core together, so the cycle for the Stanley Cup champs continues. Next year, Brent Seabrook's contract will end, as will Andrew Shaw's.

    How they get it: The Blackhawks could make a blockbuster of sorts by parting ways with a forward like Patrick Sharp, who gave the team great depth but is a luxury on the third line with a $5.5 million cap hit and 16 goals in 68 games.

Colorado Avalanche: Top Defensemen

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    Why they need it: It has long been the team's Achilles' heel and a big reason the team puts up poor possession numbers. Their best defenseman in that area last season was Erik Johnson, who had knee surgery midseason. Behind him is Tyson Barrie, a good young player on the rise. But as far as depth goes, the team is looking at parting ways with veterans Ryan Wilson and Jan Hejda, who are both pending UFAs.

    There is a huge hole for an upgrade to two of the top four defensive spots.

    How they get it: The free-agent market has a few players who would fit the need, including Francois Beauchemin and Johnny Oduya as well-rounded options and Andrej Sekera or Paul Martin as more offensively focused defenders who can move the puck well. Christian Ehrhoff is another potential fit. But in addition to any free agents, who will have to be paid market value, the Avs could make a splash by dealing forward Ryan O'Reilly.

    O'Reilly's name has been bandied around the rumor mill for a couple of years thanks to nasty previous contract negotiations, and Elliotte Friedman reported on Hockey Night in Canada recently that management will mull its options on the trade front for the 24-year-old. Colorado could make a big splash going that route.

Columbus Blue Jackets: A Top Defenseman

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    Why they need it: When healthy, the Blue Jackets have plenty of forward depth, but the back end is lacking star power. Dealing away defenseman James Wisniewski at the deadline left another hole for top-four talent, but the team would do well to add someone who can play on the top pairing and eat up more than 20-25 minutes per game alongside Jack Johnson.

    How they get it: The free-agent market is fairly decent for defensemen, with Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, Christian Ehrhoff of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Andrej Sekera of the Los Angeles Kings and Johnny Oduya of the Chicago Blackhawks all expected to hit the open market.

    The secondary tier includes some strong candidates for an upgrade as well, with Francois Beauchemin, Paul Martin, Barret Jackman and Cody Franson all worth exploring to allow some of their internal candidates time to grow.

Dallas Stars: Better Goaltending

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    Why they need it: Kari Lehtonen posted the lowest save percentage of his NHL career this season at .903 and put up a 2.94 goals-against average that tied for second-worst in any of his stops. After nine straight seasons as an above-average goaltender, Lehtonen allowed more than 20 goals more than the average NHL netminder, according to Hockey-Reference.com's goals saved above average (GSAA) statistic.

    How they get it: Some of the blame belongs to the defensive group, which grew stronger with the addition of rookie John Klingberg but still has room for improvement. The free-agent market may provide more depth there, with the team able to spend significantly if ownership chooses to. But getting a backup who can push the starter for more ice time is critical for the Stars to get back into the playoffs.

    Options include in-house candidate Jussi Rynnas from the AHL affiliate or perhaps a pending UFA like current Calgary Flames backstop Karri Ramo—how great would having two goalies named Kari and Karri as your tandem? According to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Stars general manager Jim Nill is studying the goaltending position right now.

Detroit Red Wings: Top-Four Defensemen

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    Why they need it: Marek Zidlicky made a big impact on the team down the stretch in the regular season after coming over via trade from the New Jersey Devils. But he's a free agent, and the team is unlikely to re-sign him. The Red Wings depend too heavily on top defenseman Niklas Kronwall, and he could use more support.

    Detroit could upgrade Jonathan Ericsson, Kronwall's partner, as he struggles at times at even strength. Danny DeKeyser has been a nice addition, but Kyle Quincey is another playing top-four minutes whom Detroit could replace to improve the depth.

    How they get it: There are some solid names on the free-agent market, but the Red Wings may explore a trade. There was talk of their interest in Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the deadline, and they could reopen talks at the draft or this summer.

Edmonton Oilers: Top Defenders

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    Why they need it: Their goaltending isn't great, and they'll no doubt look to upgrade there as well, but while the forward position is loaded with top talent, the back end is lacking. As in, zero players really worthy of top-pair duties at the moment. Oscar Klefbom has potential, and Justin Schultz has a role to play as a point specialist, but none of the remaining guys, from Andrew Ference to Nikita Nikitin, are worthy of top minutes.

    How they get it: They will take a look to the free-agent market and target the top names—which means they better be prepared to overpay. The trade front is a possibility as well. They're set to draft Connor McDavid, a generational talent, later this month and could afford to part with another of their young and talented forwards to finally get a potential franchise defenseman.

Florida Panthers: A Second-Line Winger

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    Why they need it: Even with the re-signing of Jaromir Jagr to see if his hot hand can continue into the next season after a strong finish with the Panthers following the trade deadline addition, the team needs another top-six forward who can complement second-line center Nick Bjugstad offensively and provide more scoring punch to help them into the playoffs.

    How they get it: With Roberto Luongo in his mid-30s, the Panthers might want to open the wallet for a couple more pieces that could help the increasingly young core make some noise in the playoffs sooner than later. Someone like the Los Angeles Kings' Justin Williams or maybe even another aging veteran in Martin St. Louis could fill the need on a shorter term and help them capture lightning in a bottle next spring. I like Matt Beleskey and former Panther Michael Frolik here, too.

Los Angeles Kings: A Way to Dump Mike Richards

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    Why they need it: The Kings are looking at losing a pair of key cogs from their Stanley Cup teams in Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll, who are both unrestricted free agents on July 1. Williams is 33 and will likely get more on the open market than the Kings want to part with as a team that has felt the salary-cap crunch the past couple of seasons, so to be able to aggressively attempt to retain or replace him with equal skill, the Kings need some dollar flexibility.

    How they get it: Unfortunately, it's either buy Mike Richards out—at a tremendous monetary cost to ownership—or part with something you may not want to give up in order to trade away his albatross of a contract to a team with the kind of cap space to absorb the hit.

    The Kings tried this once before back in January when they put Richards on waivers then talked trade potential right up to the deadline in March. No takers. With $22 million and five years remaining on his deal, the buyout would cost almost $15 million. A team willing to do that will need either a high pick or promising prospect to take that burden on. Maybe even both. The Kings might be better off absorbing that cost on their own.

    "It's complicated, but fascinating, and it's one of the club's top priorities to figure out right now," wrote ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun recently about the situation. "They need to find a way to get out from under that deal."

Minnesota Wild: A New Deal for Devan Dubnyk

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    Why they need it: The goaltender saved their season. After the trade from Arizona, he started 38 games in a row and went 27-9-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. Those numbers made him a Vezina Trophy finalist and might have had him on a few Hart Trophy ballots as well. Without Dubnyk, the team would not have made the playoffs. Now, the 29-year-old is going to get paid as a pending unrestricted free agent—if not by the Wild, then by another team.

    How they get it: It's going to take a lot of back and forth on the negotiations. There's concern from some, like Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, who wonder if Dubnyk's performance with the Wild was a lucky run or something sustainable. The Wild don't have a great deal of salary-cap space with some other players to sign, so it's possible the price will be too high if he hits the open market July 1. That's a risk they don't want to take.

Montreal Canadiens: A Goal Scorer...or Two

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    Why they need it: Max Pacioretty scored 37 goals, and Tomas Plekanec netted 26, but the Canadiens had just nine players in double digits, including two defensemen. With the 20th ranked offense, they relied heavily on goalie Carey Price's ability to keep the puck out of the net. In the playoffs, only five Habs scored more than one goal through two series. Pacioretty had five of the team's 25.

    How they get it: Goal scorers don't come cheaply, and there isn't a lot of cap space for the Canadiens to work with, so they might have to rely on more production from their secondary cast and improve the defensive game to decrease the shots Price is forced to face on a regular basis. They could also look to move players like David Desharnais and/or Lars Eller, who may have the skill sets another team desires in order to make a play in free agency.

Nashville Predators: More Elite Scoring

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    Why they need it: The Predators were already in the top 10 in scoring in the NHL this season but have a few areas in which to improve in the offseason with a top-notch defensive group and studly goaltending. Up front, they got impressive contributions from Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro but can't count on that happening again.

    For one, Ribeiro might get a more attractive offer somewhere else as a free agent. And Forsberg's breakout rookie season might be hard to repeat. Adding firepower to support James Neal on the wing could help the team turn the corner in coach Peter Laviolette's second season behind the bench.

    How they get it: With so much talent on defense, the Predators can afford to get creative in the trade market, and I've written previously they could be a potential suitor for Phil Kessel. Rick Nash might be another option. Parting with a pick and a defensive prospect like Ryan Ellis might be all that's needed to make a splash.

New Jersey Devils: Total Offensive Overhaul

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    Why they need it: The Devils were the sixth-worst team in shots on goal per game and third-worst behind Buffalo and Arizona in goal production. They were old, slow and not at all competitive in the advanced stats world. They were dinosaurs. That's part of the reason President Lou Lamoriello backed off and brought in new GM Ray Shero, with the hopes of a more offensive approach.

    There is a nice group of young defensemen and an all-world goaltender in place, so up front, there needs to be some growth in the prospect and player department.

    How they get it: The Devils should be aggressive players on the free-agent market, scooping up some of the better value picks in the second and third waves of signings to bulk up on the offensive numbers next season. Guys like Michael Frolik and Martin Erat or Drew Stafford over Matt Beleskey.

    Doing so with the intention of being as competitive as they can while rebuilding ought to give them options down the road when their prospects are ready to compete for bigger roles.

New York Islanders: A Top-Four Defenseman

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    Why they need it: As heavily as they rely on John Tavares to spark the offense and could use some support in the scoring department, there are plenty of young, talented forwards who could take a step up next year. But the additions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy last year showed how critical a deep defensive group is to making the playoffs, and adding another top-four presence will help the team continue to grow on the back end.

    How they get it: Ideally, it could be the rise of Griffin Reinhart to the top-four player they hoped he'd be when they drafted him fourth overall in 2012. But there is money under the cap to spend if the internal budget allows, and there are some strong candidates for both puck-moving and stay-at-home capabilities on the free-agent market.

New York Rangers: Salary-Cap Space

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    Why they need it: The Rangers have a plethora of free agents to re-sign, including Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast. Next year, they face the restricted free agency of Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes. They may not have the room to bring them all back into the fold, so making tough decisions on who to pay and who to disappoint are looming.

    How they get it: With a $7.8 million cap hit, Rick Nash's name is out there in trade rumors for good reason. He could fetch a massive return while also alleviating the salary-cap problem. Considering his lack of playoff production, the team may deem him expendable. Kevin Allen of USA Today listed the big winger as a potential name to move, and Elliotte Friedman told Calgary radio station Fan 960 the Buffalo Sabres are a team to watch in those sweepstakes.

Ottawa Senators: The Old Bobby Ryan to Return

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    Why they need it: Bobby Ryan's first year under a hefty seven-year deal worth more than $50 million was a bit of a bust. The Senators still made the playoffs, but it wasn't because of anything Ryan contributed. The winger netted four goals in the final 33 games of the regular season and contributed a pair in a single game in the playoffs. They need more from him to reach the playoffs again.

    How they get it: Perhaps a nice chat with head coach Dave Cameron, who might want to rethink the way he approaches Ryan next season. When Ryan's confidence dips, so does his production. He's well aware of it and was first to proclaim his suckiness during his lengthy slump this season. Instead of giving him more opportunity, Cameron cut his minutes and dropped him down the lineup. That didn't work. A new approach for the new season might work.

Philadelphia Flyers: A Top Defenseman

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    Why they need it: As talented as they are up front and as strong as they have been with Steve Mason in net, the defensive group is mediocre at best. Mark Streit is their top offensive blueliner, but his defensive skills are not as consistent. Behind him, their best late last season was Michael Del Zotto, who is an unrestricted free agent. Behind them is a mishmash of veterans like Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz and Nicklas Grossman who all have had their issues and are better served as four through six as opposed to top three.

    How they get it: They will get some salary-cap relief on Chris Pronger's contract when the season begins but are still tight to the top of the ceiling. Unless they find a way to shed some salary, they may have to depend on some of the internal prospects making the jump. They have a few talented youngsters in Travis Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere who hope to make it through training camp.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Forward Depth

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    Why they need it: The stars remain, but the depth on the third and fourth lines is going to have to change with eight forwards under contract for the coming season. The Penguins haven't found the right mix to complement the long-term stars for the past half-dozen seasons, so they might need to take a new approach to fill the gaps this offseason.

    How they get it: The team would be crazy to trade away a guy like Evgeni Malkin even though there were some misguided rumblings of him wanting a change of scenery. There won't be much salary-cap room to play with, so the Pens will have to find some bargains that fit their needs on the free-agent market unless they get creative on the trade front with equal salary being exchanged.

St. Louis Blues: Defensive Depth

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    Why they need it: Despite all the concern about the Blues not being able to get things accomplished in the playoffs, the team is loaded with talent and brought back coach Ken Hitchcock for one more year to prove it can win. The forward group could use another third-line guy, or it could shake things up with a big trade for a top name by sending back some of the forwards it doesn't see as a fit any longer.

    But the back end, however, doesn't have the same luxury of depth. The Blues have a tremendous top two in Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo followed by a lot of question marks. Jay Bouwmeester had just 13 points this year. The team told veteran Barret Jackman it wouldn't be re-signing him. Carl Gunnarsson is an average defenseman, and Petteri Lindbohm is an unknown commodity.

    How they get it: The Blues have to pay restricted free agent Vladimir Tarasenko, and he isn't going to be cheap considering his already impressive star power. That rules out overspending on the free-agent market. The team could afford to move a couple of forwards like Patrik Berglund or T.J. Oshie if it means bringing in top talent elsewhere.

San Jose Sharks: A Changing of the Guard

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    Why they need it: If this looks like a regurgitation of last year's article, well, it is. The Sharks didn't do what they needed to and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003 as a result. They brought in head coach Peter DeBoer to replace Todd McLellan, but unless player changes are made, expect the same results.

    How they get it: It's time, seriously, to deal Patrick Marleau. I'm more on board with keeping Joe Thornton and giving him a chance with DeBoer, but there's a staleness to the Sharks that could probably benefit from the removal of both former captains from the roster in favor of new blood.

Tampa Bay Lightning: An Extension for Steven Stamkos

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    Why they need it: The Lightning captain's contract expires after next season, and the team can't afford to let him leave as an unrestricted free agent.

    How they get it: Considering the Bolts look like they'll be competing for Stanley Cups for years to come and the team will open the wallet for Stamkos to ink a long-term deal, negotiations shouldn't be too taxing. A shorter term might be attractive to Stamkos, who calls Toronto home and may one day want to try his hand in the hockey hotbed instead of the heat of southern Florida.

    If the Lightning can't get him locked up, teams will be flocking to the Bolts in an effort to make a deal for his services. Stamkos did say during All-Star weekend in Columbus he wanted to stick around.

    "I could envision something like (Patrick) Kane and (Jonathan) Toews signed after July 1," Stamkos said of the eight-year, $84 million contract extensions the Blackhawks stars inked last July 10, via Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun.

Toronto Maple Leafs: A Broom

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    Why they need it: After decades of losing and recent years of building with the wrong people, it's time to do some house cleaning. New head coach Mike Babcock may think he's perfectly capable of improving the attitudes and performances of Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel, but ego is getting the best of him if he truly thinks his presence will make a difference.

    How they get it: Make some deals, and ship out the veterans with the idea that you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Stock up on draft picks, and grab the most talent possible to build a core that can grow with the new coach and thrive in a few years from now rather than lamely attempt to win in the now when there isn't nearly enough talent to succeed. Start with Kessel and Phaneuf, but don't stop there if offers come in for the likes of Joffrey Lupul or Nazem Kadri, either.

Vancouver Canucks: More Youth

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    Why they need it: Excluding any entry-level prospects who might make their way onto the team in training camp, only two players on the team under contract for next year are under the age of 25. That's the definition of an old team right there. The much younger Calgary Flames beat them out in the first round of the playoffs, and the Canucks might be looking at a similar fate without getting an injection of young blood in there.

    How they get it: The Canucks need to re-evaluate what they want their lineup to look like in the fall and make some moves to improve for the long-term future by getting rid of some of the veterans who are here for only one more year, such as Radim Vrbata.

    Vrbata was a valuable player but was ultimately separated from the Sedin twins and might fetch a high draft pick in a deal, which the team can use to explore options in the coming draft and move up for an instant impact kind of newcomer. Moving Vrbata would also open a spot on the roster for a younger guy to grab.

    "But consider this: Given the Canucks' current cap situation and need to get younger, it's unlikely they are going to re-sign Vrbata after next year," Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province wrote back in May. "If they really could get a first-round pick in a deep draft next month, or a second and a prospect, well, would ya?"

Washington Capitals: A Top-Line Right Winger

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    Why they need it: General manager Brian MacLellan wasn't shy about disclosing his team's biggest need when the season ended. He wants the Capitals to have a top-line right winger to play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom next season. They had a rotation going throughout the recent season, and although it didn't seem to affect the other two, the team wants to ice a consistent and powerful trio.

    How they get it: There are options here because the Capitals can afford to spend a little money on the free-agent market if they want by letting defenseman Mike Green walk as a UFA. Justin Williams or Drew Stafford could work. Going through the trade route is a possibility as well because the first-round pick might be a nice bargaining chip that could turn the Caps into an even more serious contender next year.

    The Calgary Flames' Jiri Hudler, coming off a career year, might be a fit. Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel would be a massive salary that could handcuff the team down the road, but if they win in the next couple of years, it might be worth it.

Winnipeg Jets: Top-Six Wingers

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    Why they need it: After dealing away Evander Kane, the Jets were left with a lot of expiring contracts on the wing. Only seven forwards in total remain under contract for next season. The good news is the top trio of Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler is intact.

    How they get it: Fortunately, if ownership is willing to spend, there is lots of cap room to work with, and there are some good names available whether their own expiring free agents or those from other teams. They also have high hopes for top prospect Nikolaj Ehlers, who could fill a void on the second line. The trade route is also something they could explore. After executing the blockbuster with Buffalo to bring in Tyler Myers, an encore could be welcome.


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