Hockey: They're Baaack!
With the Olympics over and the trade deadline coming up, it’s as good a time as any to review and preview the NHL.
In the West:
Got It: One of the best GMs in the game. Burke has wasted no time shaping this team to his preference.
Need It: Two more years from Scott Neidermayer for the kids to catch up.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Burke never stops looking for trades, but he’s probably had enough for this year.
Second Season: They’re close, and moving in the right direction (6-3-1 to the break). Most likely of those on the outside to bump one of the top eight off.
Upcoming: The only place this team doesn’t have big depth is in net. There’s a ridiculous amount of talent coming up, particularly at forward and especially if they can get Chistov back from Mettalurg.
Got It: An incredible defense, one through seven the best in the league; and backed by Kiprusoff.
Need It: Someone between Kiprusoff and Krahn. Young goalie Krahn has flashes of brilliance – NOT what you want in an NHL goalie, where consistency is needed, especially in a backup.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent, if anything. Huselius has played well enough to be resigned for next season, and they’ve already got most of their cap committed.
Second Season: Almost a lock for the playoffs but… Every team in their division got five wins in their past ten games, so no one’s safe until game 82 is finished.
Upcoming: Dustin Boyd is the only natural scorer in their system not with the NHL team, so they’ll be looking for finish in the off season. Again.
Got It: Some good rookies.
Need It: Some good veterans.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. Khabibulin has a ring and is due back from his sprained knee soon, though that contract ($6,750,000 nest year) is going to be a tough sale. Money could stop Lapointe from moving as well, but they’ll get phone calls about Cullimore.
Second Season: What second season? If they win every game remaining to them, they’d end the season with 94 points, good for ninth or tenth in the West.
Upcoming: Tougher if Daze retires, but there’s actually room for optimism that
Got It: Scoring. Again.
Need It: Consistent play from Aebischer. Very up-and-down season.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. With Konowalchuk down, they want some grit going into the playoffs.
Second Season: See
Upcoming: Most of their young talent is with the team, especially Cy Young challenger Marek Svatos (32 goals, 18 assists) and J-M Liles. Past them, though…
Got It: Lots of young talent, some veteran leadership, okay goaltending.
Need It: Better health and a stable coach. I liked Gallant as a player, but I don’t think he’s doing this team any favours. See if Dave King is interested, or Ted Nolan.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. The Fedorov-Zherdev experiment isn’t working, so Fedorov is available, as are defencemen Richardson, Pushor, and Hulse for net-clearing, of Delmore if a team needs a point man. Prusek and/or Denis could go, too.
Second Season: Not this year, despite GM’s pre-season prediction. Without injuries, they may well have made the playoffs.
Upcoming: Brule is on the team next year, giving them two solid lines… for as long as they last. Looking to add a veteran goalie for Leclaire to understudy, playing a 45-37 game split.
Got It: Team
Need It: A young goaltender. Turco and Hedberg have done a fantastic job, but after them the cupboard is bare.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Rent. They’ve got the most salary committed for next year of any team, so there’s not much room to add, and it’s unlikely they’ll drop players before the playoffs.
Second Season: They’re baaaack! One of the deepest teams right now, they’re talent is all in the NHL right now, so they’re looking to win.
Upcoming: They’ll want to get some prospects, so they may trade veterans so they can sign Ott and Daley; but only after the playoffs.
Got It: Um… How long can I make this list?
Need It: A young offensive defenseman to understudy Lidstrom and Schneider when they – oh, wait, that’s Kronwall. Um. Give me a sec… Oh yes: someone to convince Yzerman it’s time to go – like his doctor, perhaps.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Who needs to?
Second Season: They’re in. The only questions are who they’re going to play and whether they can hold off
Upcoming: They could add a goalie, a defenseman, and two centres next year, all their own draft picks. Their AHL team is the best in the West, and they haven’t had a draft pick higher than 29th in six years, and the rest were 58th or later. The best scouting and development in the league, no question.
Got It: Youth, speed, and the best ice in the league.
Need It: Their own AHL team (they share with
Buy, Sell or Rent: Possibly renting for the stretch, but they won’t want to give up much.
Second Season: The kids are coming together, and if Morrison and Markkanen can stabilize the goaltending, they should get in. But they’re sitting in 8th right now in a crazy division (see
Upcoming: Centre Rob Schremp got sent back to his minor team after almost making the Oilers; in response, he’s got 32 goals and 42 assists in 27 games. My.
Got It: Scoring from a lot of different players – tough to shut that down.
Need It: Consistent goaltending and/or a shut-down defenseman.
Buy, Sell or Rent: In the off season, sure, but not yet.
Second Season: At the greatest risk of slipping out of the playoffs, but that could be the price this year to keep the youth here for seasons to come.
Upcoming: This summer they’ll need a veteran to take the place of Roenick and Robitaille, to whom they should give a thanks, a handshake, and an invitation to visit the team whenever they want.
Got It: Goaltending (of course) and a great coach.
Need It: A veteran point man. Zyuzin’s got 7 goals, which is nice, but he’s also only got 9 assists. Foster is auditioning for the role, but they need someone this year.
Buy, Sell or Rent: All the above. Roloson and Fernandez are both free agents next year, so one could go now to fill a need, but they’d need a solid backup in return, as Harding will need another year before he’s ready for the NHL.
Second Season: They’re in tough to make the playoffs, but it’s certainly possible if the predicted trades work out.
Upcoming: Centre Patrick O’Sullivan is closest to joining the big team, where the Wild are already deep. He may get pushed to wing, or a trade could involve Chouinard, White or Robitaille.
Got It: Grit, goaltending, scoring from two lines and defense.
Need It: A better record outside their own weak division.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Probably nothing – they already picked up Sillinger for depth, though he hasn’t quite fit in yet.
Second Season: They’ll make it, and they play everyone hard. Whoever ends up as their opponent will feel like they lost the series, whatever the results.
Upcoming: There could be four players from Milwaukee playing for Nashville next year, but the team’s good enough that only a couple would stick (Upshall and Finley).
Got It: Grinding, defensive forwards.
Need It: Scoring. Losing Nagy and Morris has been brutal.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Sell. There are few players who aren’t available, and several that are playoff veterans. Doan’s not going anywhere, though.
Second Season: Outside chance, being ten points out, but I don’t think so. Their recent trades haven’t pulled them up in the standings, so they’ll pull the plug.
Upcoming: Matt Jones and LeNeveu are joining the team next year.
Got It: Injuries, sale of the team, a blown 25-year playoff run.
Need It: Patience.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Most of the moves are done, but they may put up another defenseman or two; most likely Weinrich or
Second Season: A 25-year stretch is broken; maybe now they won’t feel pressure to make the playoffs every season and can plan farther into the future than one year.
Upcoming: Perhaps Woywitka, but that’s it for a while. The thing about making the playoffs is the draft pick you get… Speaking of which, they have a shot at Kessel or Frolik. Neither should be in the league next year, though.
Got It: Stabilized goaltending, lots of young enthusiasm.
Need It: A point man. That was Stuart, but his trade helped bring
Buy, Sell or Rent: Buy. They’re looking for a point man, but they need a keeper, not a rental. Either Nabokov of Toskala may go, and Nabokov has the bigger (read: harder to move) contract.
Second Season: Seven points back of LA with four games in hand, they do have a chance at getting in. However, they’ll have to crawl over three teams to do so.
Upcoming: Not a lot for next year, as much of the youth is already being served with the Sharks. Schaeffer is up next year to back up whoever is still around.
Got It: Multiple Personality Disorder. They don’t know if they’re a finesse team or grinders.
Need It: A therapist, perhaps? A new coach, certainly.
Buy, Sell or Rent: Unless Ouellet picks up a shutout (or close to it) in his next two chances,
Second Season: They should make it in (see
Upcoming: Two noticeable players at the World Juniors in