Cornwall Ontario – As the puck is about to drop to kick off another NHL season it’s time to look at which teams have improved and which haven’t.
Of course when you’re at the bottom there’s generally only one way to go,and of same for when you’re at the top, but in today’s cap age there are many ways in which to improve.
Looking at the hot mess Detroit is in is frankly scary, while some of the bottom dwelling teams don’t even seem interested in competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Nothing must be more frustrating for a NHL fan than being in a city with a team that clearly isn’t going anywhere.
But this column is about those that have improved.
#3 – Philadelphia Flyers
Ron Hextall seems to be a very very patient GM. Good thing Flyers fans are as patient. The squad this year is looking better after nabbing Nolan Patrick with their 1st round pick. So much so that Claude Giroux may be shifting to wing (Unless they can make a hockey trade for him).
Philly is very deep down the middle. They’re bringing up some of their young homegrown D men, and are stable in net. They have their full complement of draft picks for next season plus an extra 1st from St. Louis.
They have trade depth if they want to make some moves at the deadline without giving up their future.
#2 – Vancouver Canucks
While some teams might be blowing up and doing a rebuild, the Canucks are hanging in there and trying to capture a Cup win with the Sedins.
Oddly enough some shrewd signings has the team looking a lot more interesting this year; so much so that this writer is predicting a playoff berth at the very minimum.
Signed or traded for were Sam Gagner, Tomas Vanek, Michael Del Zotto, Derrick Pouliot, and Erik Gudbranson.
The squad is looking better than it has in years. Losing Ryan Miller is a loss, but if the Canucks goalie’s falter there’s young Thatcher Demko in the wings and a few goalies available via trade.
Vancouver is missing its 4th pick next season. They’re in a great position to add depth if they want to make a run, and if things don’t go well have some assets like Vanek that they can turn into draft picks and future if they wish.
And the most improved team during this off season?
#1 – Dallas Stars
Dallas was a team that had no issue putting points up on the board, but had goalie issues and needed some help on D.
Grabbing Alex Radulov was a bonus that adds some grit and sandpaper up front.
Ben Bishop in goal addressed their main issue.
Martin Hanzel and Marc Methot will help the PK and help down the middle. Mixed in with the potent punches that Dallas already had and it puts the team on a trajectory that barring major injuries should have them on focus for a deep cup run and the most improved NHL roster.
This is a veteran team with Ken Hitchcock back behind the bench. The clearly are a cup contender at this stage and have done so without emptying their pantry.
Honorable mention goes to the Tampa Bay Lightning who managed to grab a future franchise 1D in Mikhail Sergachev for a talented winger who wasn’t going to fit their cap plans. Hedman and Sergachev in the same D corps is frankly scary.
What do you think Hockey fans? You can post your comments below.