As the playoffs loom ever nearer, the time to take a look at what teams need to elevate them to contender status is here.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are 11th in the west and just two points out of a playoff position. That said they’ve played two more games than most of the teams ahead of them. They are currently the 11th ranked defense, and Bobrovsky is the owner of a gaudy .932sv%, good for second in the NHL.
The team needs goal scoring. Currently they are dead last in the NHL in goals for and their powerplay isn’t much better. A mentor or two for Seth Ambroz and Dalton Smith either via trade or picking up the right free agents (even if they have to overpay a little) this off season makes this a playoff team easily, and if Bobrovsky stays near his current level of play, then they aren’t far off from contender status.
The Detroit Red Wings are nursing their playoff streak, which might be good setting records, but isn’t good long term for the teams chances of hoisting a cup. Their powerplay is 22nd, their penalty kill is 17th.
After Jimmy Howard all of this teams best remaining players are on the shady side of thirty. They number of high first and second round picks that could be piled up by moving Datsyuk, Cleary, Zetterberg and when he is healthy, Helm is more than enough to rebuild the team if they show their usual knack for picking prospects.
The New York Islanders have been rebuilding for almost as long as their centerpiece John Tavares has been alive. Coming into today they have about a 30% chance of making the playoffs.
The team has real offensive ability, plays well together and is very young. Adding one or two pieces on the backend that gives the team a chance to play better from day one next season, and better the rest of this season will let them earn their way into the playoffs and be a vote of confidence for the coach, players and fans.
The Carolina Hurricanes are in the midst of one of their better seasons in a while. They could easily win the very last south east division title.
Right now the team is in solid shape, they arguably have a goaltending controversy. I’m still convinced letting Allen go in the offseason was a mistake. Adding a two way defenseman who can contribute to their special teams might just push this team beyond the second round.
The Calgary Flames are 24th over all in the NHL, 13th in the West, and doing little right.
While the Flames have some talent on the ice, and some interesting prospects in the system they have zero chance of going anywhere with this roster. Like the Red Wings, the stars of this roster are worth more to other teams than they are to the franchise short, medium, or long term. Iginla, Cammalleri, Bouwmeester, Tanguay, and Glenencross comprise almost 100% of the rosters talent, what they can return in players, prospects and picks would give the team much, much, much needed youth and depth.
The Nashville Predators had one of their best seasons ever last year. They looked like legitimate contenders for the Stanley Cup. This season, they are not at that level. Right now they sit outside the playoffs.
The Predators need what they have needed for years: offense. Patrick Hornquist can’t do it alone. In fact if he were on any other team his career points numbers would be about 20% higher. They have the defense and goaltending to compete, they need to revamp their offense.