NHL Teams with the Most Work to Do in 2014 Offseason
Every summer, all 30 NHL teams try to improve their position in next season's league rankings. It's mathematically impossible for them all to succeed.
As the frenzy of activity surrounding the 2014 NHL draft and free-agency period winds to a close, it's becoming clear that not every team has been able to check off all the items on its to-do list.
Coming out of a lockout-shortened campaign, then a reduced salary-cap year, this offseason has been especially busy. Teams exercised compliance buyouts, prepped for the draft, made trades and opened their checkbooks for this year's crop of free agents.
As the dust settles, there are still some clubs with plenty of work to do before training camp opens in September. Here's a look at the teams that are most in need of some big moves from their management group before the end of summer.
Who's Gone: C Mike Ribeiro, RW Radim Vrbata, RW David Moss, G Thomas Greiss
Who's New: C Sam Gagner, C Joe Vitale, RW B.J. Crombeen, G Devan Dubnyk
Most Important Task: add offense
The Coyotes struggled to score in 2013-14, ranking 20th in the NHL with 2.56 goals per game. This summer, two of the team's top five scorers—Vrbata and Ribeiro—have departed.
Sam Gagner's a nice addition, but the Coyotes will need to provide him with some scoring wingers if they expect him to finally crack that 50-point plateau.
Who's Gone: RW Jarome Iginla, RW Shawn Thornton, D Andrej Maszaros, G Chad Johnson
Who's New: G Niklas Svedberg
Most Important Task: balance the budget
The Boston Bruins' salary-cap issues caused them to lose four players in free agency, including 30-goal-scorer Jarome Iginla. Only backup goaltender Johnson has been replaced, by farmhand Niklas Svedberg.
With limited funds available, the Bruins re-signed restricted free agent Matt Bartkowski but have yet to ink new deals with two of their most promising youngsters, Reilly Smith and Torey Krug.
New York Rangers
Who's Gone: D Anton Stralman, C Brian Boyle, C Brad Richards, LW Benoit Pouliot
Who's New: D Dan Boyle, LW Tanner Glass
Most Important Task: lock down young talent
On July 1, the New York Rangers lost three key members of the group who went to the Stanley Cup Final. New addition Dan Boyle could revitalize the New York power play, but a team that has struggled to score will still be searching for offense.
The Rangers have some money to spend but are facing arbitration hearings for three of their best young forwards—Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider. Defenseman John Moore is also a young RFA who needs to be signed to a new deal.
San Jose Sharks
Who's Gone: D Dan Boyle, RW Martin Havlat
Who's New: LW John Scott, D Taylor Fedun
Most Important Task: Ummm...rebuild?
After the San Jose Sharks' devastating loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 playoffs, general manager Doug Wilson promised big changes in the Bay Area. All he's done so far is bring in lumbering bruiser John Scott to pump up the fourth line.
David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Wilson's rebuild is now looking more like a changing of the guard, focusing on altering the Sharks' team culture while retaining the current personnel.
As part of the repair work, younger players -- Wilson mentioned Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun specifically -- are being given greater responsibility on and off the ice as part of a rebuilt hierarchy.
In fact, Wilson said, he expects the Sharks to be one of the NHL's most youthful franchises when the season begins.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Who's Gone: C Dave Bolland, RW Nikolai Kulemin, LW Mason Raymond, C Jay McClement, D Carl Gunnarsson, D Tim Gleason
Who's New: D Stephane Robidas, D Roman Polak, LW Leo Komarov, C Mike Santorelli
Most Important Task: shore up the back end
As of July 18, the Toronto Maple Leafs have just four major league defensemen signed for 2014-15. An aggressive attempt (via The Score) to acquire Josh Gorges from the Montreal Canadiens failed, while new contracts need to be completed for restricted free agents Jake Gardiner and Cody Franson, who has filed for arbitration.
Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak change the complexion of the defense, but the Leafs desperately need to add depth.
Who's Gone: C Olli Jokinen, G Al Montoya, D Zach Redmond
Who's New: C Mathieu Perreault
Most Important Task: make the playoffs
After a celebratory opening season back in Winnipeg, the sheer novelty of having the NHL back in Manitoba wasn't enough to sustain the team's sky-high secondary-market ticket prices in its second year, per Forbes.com.
A third frustrating season in 2013-14 has Jets fans crying for change, even if it means moving talented core players.
Acquiring Mathieu Perreault to replace a departing Olli Jokinen in free agency was a disappointment. To keep fans interested and climb the standings in the tough Western Conference, the Jets will need to shore up their goaltending and make a blockbuster trade, perhaps involving Dustin Byfuglien or Evander Kane.