The perfect holiday gift for every NHL team
We have seen more than a quarter of the NHL season and have started to get a sense for every team’s strengths and weaknesses heading into the holiday break. So what better time to put together a last minute shopping list to give every team in the league the one thing it needs the most for the remainder of the season and the new year ahead.
What does your team need more than anything else?
Let’s explore it!
Anaheim Ducks. Some shooting luck for Jakob Silfverberg. One goal on 59 shots this season defies logic for such a skilled player.
Arizona Coyotes. A draft lottery win. This season was always going to be miserable given the roster moves made in the summer, and the only thing that can salvage it from a fans perspective is winning the top pick in the draft (something the Coyotes have never had since moving to Arizona). They need a franchise-changing player. That is their best chance to get it.
Boston Bruins. A second-line center. Scoring depth is again a big problem for the Bruins this season and losing David Krejci has been significant.
Buffalo Sabres. A healthy and productive Alex Tuch. The Sabres need everything if we are being honest, but Tuch making his debut and helping to salvage the Jack Eichel chapter would be a positive development.
Calgary Flames. A new contract for Johnny Gaudreau. He is still a star player with productive years ahead of him and you do not want to lose that for nothing.
Carolina Hurricanes. Keeping Frederik Andersen healthy. That was always going to be a big question for him this season, and given how well he has played, they need him to stay in the lineup.
Chicago Blackhawks. A breakout season for Kirby Dach. Anything having to do with the team’s offense would be a great gift, but if they are going to build anything in the future Dach is going to have to be one of the players to help get them there.
Colorado Avalanche. Better goaltending. They are still one of the best teams in the league (and hottest teams in the league) despite the fact their goalies have provided a sub-.900 save percentage this season. Darcy Kuemper has been okay, but he can be better.
Columbus Blue Jackets. The return of Patrik Laine. It has been a tough year for Laine on the ice (injuries) and off the ice. He is still the highest ceiling player the Blue Jackets have, and when he has played this season has looked really good. He can be a game-changer. This team needs a game-changer.
Dallas Stars. More offense. The return of a healthy Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov was supposed to be significant this season. It has not quite worked out that way for a Stars team that is 20th in the league in goals per game and near the bottom during 5-on-5 play.
Detroit Red Wings. A Calder Trophy for one of their standout rookies. If this team gets into the playoffs (not out of the question) Lucas Raymond or Moritz Seider should be the runaway rookie of the year favorites.
Edmonton Oilers. An entirely new bottom-six. The numbers are what they are. When Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are not on the ice during 5-on-5 play the Oilers have been outscored 16-34 this season. They have the worst supporting cast in the NHL.
Florida Panthers. Improved special teams. If they have a weakness it is on the power play (20th) and penalty kill (17th). Not a dealbreaker for a contender, but something that could be improved.
Los Angeles Kings. Their farm system to pan out. They are hanging in the playoff race with the current roster, but the real hope is with players like Quinton Byfield, Alex Turcotte, and Arthur Kaliyev. Their impact has not yet been felt.
Minnesota Wild. Good news on Joel Eriksson Ek. The Wild are an outstanding team that does not need much. But what they do need is for Eriksson Ek’s injury to not be too severe or keep him out for too long. He is a major part of their roster.
Montreal Canadiens. A general manager with a plan. Let’s just go with the obvious here. There is nothing on the ice in the short-term that is going to salvage this lost season, so let’s just give their fans something to look forward to in the future.
Nashville Predators. A new contract for Filip Forsberg. Similar to the Flames with Gaudreau. Not a player you want to lose for nothing, and not a player you want to trade when you have a chance to make the playoffs. Still an impact player.
New Jersey Devils. Better power play. They have a lot of problems and flaws, but a better power play could at least help fix some things.
New York Islanders. Offense. A lot of it. This has always been the Islanders’ weakness, but it has reached an entirely new level this year. There are a lot of factors at play here (the COVID situation that paused their season; injuries; just a general lack of depth) but they need more impact players than just Mathew Barzal.
New York Rangers. Breakouts from Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko. The Rangers’ rebuild got a huge boost with two straight years of draft lottery luck, but so far they have not become impact players. The fact the Rangers are as good as they are right now should be encouraging. Imagine what they could be capable of if those two become stars.
Ottawa Senators. A resurgence from Matt Murray. He started his career with two Stanley Cup championships as a rookie, regressed a little, but still got a big contract from the Senators. So far, it has not worked out. They need it to work out.
Philadelphia Flyers. A healthy Ryan Ellis. The Flyers defense needed a ton of work this offseason and they made some major changes to address it. Ellis was supposed to be the key to that. He has been limited to just four games.
Pittsburgh Penguins. Better power play. That has been the one major weakness for this team this season. Maybe the return of Evgeni Malkin helps fix that.
San Jose Sharks. A strong return for Tomas Hertl. Not sure the Sharks are going to hang around in the playoff race enough to get him to re-sign, and the Sharks are not going to let him walk for nothing. Cash in on his big season and get a haul.
Seattle Kraken. Better goaltending. Or perhaps an expansion draft re-do? They left some talent on the board for sure, but goaltending has been the single biggest issue this season.
St. Louis Blues. Vladimir Tarasenko wanting to stick around. Not trading him this offseason and Seattle not taking him in the expansion draft has been a season-changer for the Blues.
Tampa Bay Lightning. A backup goalie. What do you get for the team that has everything? That can still be one of the best teams in the league without its two best players for most of the season? Maybe a backup goalie upgrade to give Andrei Vasilevskiy a little bit of a break. Even that is not a huge need.
Toronto Maple Leafs. Playoff success. Yeah, that is low-hanging fruit. But low-hanging fruit is still juicy and that is the only thing Toronto fans want.
Vancouver Canucks. Christmas came early with the arrival of Bruce Boudreau (but if you want to be greedy, fix the league worst penalty killing unit).
Vegas Golden Knights. A healthy Jack Eichel. Whenever he makes his debut, him being healthy and ready to make an impact would give them the dynamic, top-line center they have been lacking in their Stanley Cup quest.
Washington Capitals. A full roster. Seems simple enough. They have been without so many key players this season for extended periods of time. Let’s see what they can do when they are all there.
Winnipeg Jets. Better penalty killing unit. The Jets are at 70.6% for the season, ahead of only Vancouver and Winnipeg. Not an area you want to struggle in come playoff time.