New Years Resolution: One That Each NHL Should Make in 2016
New Years Resolution’s are a common practice many in the Western Culture indulge upon at the beginning of each new year.
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The most common resolution’s usually involve things on the low-scale such as being more considerate/nicer to others, or opening doors for people more often. On a grander scale, the common resolutions usually involve eating healthier, being more active, or losing weight. A New Years resolution involves a promise to one’s self to do something positive in the next calendar year.
With it being the last day of 2015, it seems appropriate to release a list of one New Years resolution that each NHL team would be wise to make for 2016:
New Years Resolution’s For All 30 NHL Teams
Accept that John Gibson is the starter of the future, and trade Frederik Andersen. Package him with a defender, and address the long-time need for a proper winger alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Also, score more goals. League worst in unacceptable for a Cup favorite heading into 2015-16.
Find Mike Smith‘s replacement, even if it’s an AHL prospect a year or two away. The Coyotes are thin for goaltending prospects. If the price is right, bring in a goaltender young enough to grow with, that can play now.
What to do with Loui Eriksson? The prized player returning in the Tyler Seguin deal underwhelmed for most of his tenure with Boston. He played well, but the productivity never matched his ability. That is until this season, putting Boston in a tough position. GM Don Sweeney needs to figure out whether Eriksson is part of his plans, or a valuable rental?
Find the long-term answer in-goal. Whether it exists in-house, or needs to be obtained via trade, goaltending is the final piece of the puzzle. Buffalo made necessary moves to address holes this past offseason. With a nearly healthy Robin Lehner soon returning, Buffalo can figure out exactly where they stand in the blue paint.
12.6% on the powerplay, and 74.7% on the penalty kill is good enough for last place in both categories nearly halfway into 2015-16. Gaudreau and Monahan have been excellent, but they’re lacking top-line talent on the wing. A second line, and goaltending would help too.
Trade Eric Staal and Cam Ward. The pair have won a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe, and a 100-point season, but all good things must come to an end. It’s not a knock on their abilities as players, so much as Carolina needing to move forward with a different core group of players.
Find a way to play a better all-around defensive game. It’s difficult to criticize a good NHL team, let alone the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Blackhawks made a lot of movement in the offseason, but once again, look built for a deep run. If they can’t keep more pucks out of the net, a powerhouse offense (such as Dallas) could be the nail in the coffin come April/June.
Something needs to be done to shake this core group of players. It’s not working, and options are starting to become limited. Trading a big piece such as Semyon Varlamov, Matt Duchene, or Gabriel Landeskog could be the answer. That’s worst-case scenario. It would be nice if the answer were as simple as re-calling Mikko Rantanen (upon return from WJC). That doesn’t fix the Avalanche’s defensive deficiencies though.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Start calling up some prospects to give them NHL experience (i.e. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sonny Milano, etc.). Time to turn the page on 2015-16, and look forward to next season. A top Draft Lottery pick in a top-heavy draft will be highly beneficial. GM Jarmo Kekalainen does have tough decisions to make regarding his current roster. And no, moving Ryan Johansen is not the answer.
This one’s simple. Win the Stanley Cup and bring it down to Texas. They made the necessary moves this past offseason adding Patrick Sharp, Stephen Johns, Johnny Oduya, and Antti Niemi. Dallas just needs to keep playing the way they have so far in 2015-16.
Detroit Red Wings
Unless Detroit is comfortable surpassing Dallas as the team with most money devoted to goaltending, the Red Wings would be wise to figure out a solution to Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard‘s co-existence. Howard boasts a lucrative salary cap hit, while Mrazek is due for a pay raise at season’s end. Both have played well in 2015-16, which makes trading Jimmy Howard a top option.
The Oilers are trending in the right direction, of late. Although, being second worst in goals against (behind Columbus) is unacceptable. Anders Nilsson and Cam Talbot are better than anything Edmonton has seen in a while, but they need to get better defensively to help their netminders.
Add one more piece as a trade rental, compete with Montreal to become Atlantic Division champions. Team success in South Florida directly correlates with revenue generated, and for a team that struggles to make money, it’s worth riding the success in 2015-16 to see how far it can take them.
Los Angeles Kings
Get Anze Kopitar and Milan Lucic signed to extensions. The free agent talk surrounding these two has been quiet thus far, but it could become a distraction if both remain unsigned when playoffs begin in April.
Find a first line center. It’s not a knock on Mikko Koivu or Mikael Granlund, but neither are capable of carrying the load. Both are better suited as second line centers. Minnesota has a wealth of defenders, but finding it difficult to part ways with any one defenseman. When the dust settles, Matt Dumba is likely the odd-man out.
Find a way to stay healthy in 2016. The losses of Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher has been devastating for Montreal. Mike Condon carried the load admirably for a long while before hitting a wall. Perhaps the extra rest will be a positive for two key pieces to Montreal’s success.
The Preds are one big piece away from being true Stanley Cup contenders. Nashville needs another top six forward, preferably a top-line player. If it means sacrificing any defender not named Shea Weber or Roman Josi, then so be it.
New Jersey Devils
Playing like the Calgary Flames of 2014-15, New Jersey continues to surprise the hockey world with their success. But, the Devils rank last in shots on goal with 24.9/per game. Arizona is second last with 26.9/per game (two less shots per game for NJ). The resolution is simple, more shots on goal.
New York Islanders
The Islanders need to decide what to do with Kyle Okposo. If they want re-sign him, they’d be wise to do it before the end of the season. If he gets a sniff of free-agency, the money and term to play elsewhere will be too tempting. Although if GM Garth Snow doesn’t foresee Okposo in his future plans, they’d be wise to move him at the trade deadline as a rental. Letting him walk into free agency for nothing would be inexcusable.
New York Rangers
Be active from now, until the trade deadline, in an attempt to add one or two offensive pieces. Preferably a top six, and bottom six forward. Bottom six and depth forward would also work. This team is built for a deep playoff run, they just need to add scoring depth.
The Sens are giving up a league worst 33.8 shots per game in 2015-16. Defensive lapses are largely to blame. It’s unfair to put that weight on the shoulders of Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond. Ottawa needs to tighten up defensively in 2016.
Philly is tied with Buffalo for last place in goals for in period one. Only 15 of their 86 goals have come in the first. The Flyers need to find a way to play a better full sixty minutes. The lack of goals suggests Philadelphia are slow-starters. These guys need to be ready to play from puck drop until the very end.
Marc-Andre Fleury‘s injury gave Pittsburgh an opportunity to showcase top prospect Matt Murray. Now it’s time for the Penguins to find a trade suitor for both Murray and David Perron, in hopes of finding defensive help to best salvage the 2015-16 season as they can.
San Jose Sharks
Will it never end? Seems as though the Joe Thornton/Patrick Marleau era is far from over. Whispers rippled through the hockey world earlier in the season about the pair being moved, but both carry difficult clauses and lucrative salary cap hits. San Jose needs to turn the page on the pair of aging vets, if hopes of ever winning a Stanley Cup.
The future is now. Jake Allen is having a terrific season finally, after backing up Brian Elliott for far too long. St.Louis needs to continue handing Allen the bulk of starts in the blue paint to give him the confidence a goaltender needs to steal playoff series’.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay needs to find themselves. A once powerful, high-octane offense, suddenly struggling to score in 2015-16. They had an identity last season that helped carry them into the finals, but they’ve since lost their identity. The Lightning need to find a way to put the pieces back together in 2016.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hope that Jonathan Bernier continues to build off a terrible start to 2015-16. Otherwise, expectations in a rebuild are fairly non-existent. Wait till July 1st, and welcome Steven Stamkos into the true Blue and White.
Time to re-tool the roster. A re-build isn’t necessary, but a minor shake-up is due for the Vancouver Canucks. Turning the page on some long-time Canucks, making way for youth might be the best route in 2016.
Just keep it up. The Caps are on a tear this season, largely in part to Braden Holtby‘s Vezina worthy campaign thus far. Washington needs to carefully manage Holtby’s minutes down the stretch to help avoid fatigue come postseason.
Only one team (Columbus) has more minor penalties than Winnipeg. It wouldn’t be an issue, if it weren’t a continuous trend. Undisciplined play is nothing new for the Jets, but at some point it needs to be addressed. It’s the law of probability. More powerplay opportunities given, the higher risk of goals against.