Wishing everyone happy holidays. It really is the greatest time of the year, though mainly because of the World Juniors tournament!
Closing in on the midway point of the year, here are some holiday shopping needs for every NHL team.
A reasonable extension for Pontus Aberg would be a great stocking stuffer for the Ducks. It also doesn’t break the bank, and wouldn’t block the forwards in the pipeline when they are ready to take the next step forward. On that note, enjoy watching Maxime Comtois dominate at the World Juniors this year.
Some stability in net for the year.
Calgary needs to use the William Nylander and Johnny Gaudreau contract disputes as a learning opportunity for getting their holiday shopping done early with Matthew Tkachuk. Get him signed fast, and let him out-earn the contract over time as most seem to (a-la Marc Scheifele & Nathan MacKinnon). However, with approximately $16 million available for eight roster spots next year, someone may have to be shipped out (Travis Hamonic and Michael Frolik come to mind).
Additionally, Sam Bennett needs the gift of a fresh start like teammate Elias Lindholm received. Keep an eye on where he ends up over the next two years. He has the tools to put it all together someday.
Chicago needs a winter break vacation to the fountain of youth. Since that won’t happen, they will settle for a healthy Corey Crawford in 2019-2020, while hoping Colin Delia can bridge the gap for now. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on him if you’re desperate for goalie stats.
Colorado was already gifted the Senator’s first round pick in 2019, and their top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog is a little naughty. They have the best of both worlds and can just relax with some egg nog.
For fantasy owners wanting a piece of the good fortunes, a recent slump by Semyon Varlamov may open a bit of a buy-low window, while Samuel Girard has looked good with some power play exposure. He’s not at the top of everyone’s fantasy lists just yet.
Narrowly clinging onto the last playoff spot, Dallas needs depth scoring even more than just about any other team in the league. A breakout second half from Valeri Nichushkin or Dennis Gurianov would go a long way towards helping that. Gurianov is my dark horse to go on a scoring binge in the second half.
Edmonton is one of the few teams that needs depth scoing almost as much as Dallas. However, the Oilers also need consistency everywhere else too. Cam Talbot and Mikko Koskinen have split the net thus far, they are on their second coach, and Connor McDavid has tried to set up everyone on this team with cross-crease passes that only Leon Draisaitl can finish. Alex Chaisson has scored 16 goals, but a broken clock is also right twice a day. This team needs a healthy Oscar Klefbom in the second half, and for youngster Jesse Puljujarvi to bloom under the North-Pole-esque weather in Edmonton.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings rattled off three straight wins coming into the holiday break. That’s a bad thing. We know the holidays are about giving, but that doesn’t mean they need to give away a playoff spot as well as their chance at first overall pick in June. The Kings need to take a page out of the New York Rangers book, and announce they will be working on a re-tooling effort to regain some competitiveness as soon as next year. With the massive contracts they have on their books, there aren’t many other options.
Not to be completely forgotten about in purgatory… I almost forgot to write their blurb actually.
With only Eric Staal as a notable UFA, coming off of a very team friendly deal, this team won’t look too different over the next few years. Currently sitting outside of a playoff spot, the Wild can’t afford to let that be their fate. A New Year’s resolution for a springtime shakeup may be in the cards, especially if they hope to lure over KHL standout Krill Kaprizov.
Like a few other teams, the Nashville Predators should feel they just need to be healthy to be a force through the West. A dominant performance by Eeli Tolvanen at the World Juniors would go a long way towards creating some confidence for him on the North American rinks. Adding that extra weapon would do wonders for the Predators’ offence.
San Jose Sharks
San Jose’s wish list is short: consistent goaltending. They are to top team with 115 or more goals allowed. In the pre-season picks, I figured Martin Jones was a good bet to contend for the Jennings trophy. He has had plenty of offensive support, so his shortcomings have generally been covered up. Aaron Dell ($1.9 million AAV) may need to step in and step up a little more in the second-half. Owners of Jones should ensure they have the handcuff.
Seattle is going to need to keep up with Vegas’ success, and to do so, they will need to manage their cap. Heads up to the Seattle management group that I’m available as a contract consultant for just this kind of thing!
St. Louis Blues
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Colorado, the St. Louis Blues are not in a playoff spot, nor do they own a first-round pick. They need to gift some ice time to their youth, and give Jay Bouwmeester a lump of coal in the press box.
Jake Allen showing some more consistency on the fireside hot-seat would go a long way towards a second-half rebound as well. He is showing signs of life in the second quarter (stats shown below). I traded Mike Smith for him in a one-year league about a month ago, as personally I trust Allen more.
Vancouver probably wishes they had a handful of amnesty buyouts to throw around like snowballs. The youth movement is coming along, and forcing their way through whether the bigger contracts are in the way or not. Looking forward though, the Canucks need to get Brock Boeser signed to a long-term extension. He is a key building block, and you can’t risk having those walk away in less than eight years.
Vegas Golden Knights
With Paul Stastny returning, and Eric Haula hopefully recovered for the stretch run, this team is deep enough to make another run in the playoffs. However, starting goalie M.A. Fleury cannot continue playing over 90% of the team’s games. In the new year, he needs a little more R&R. Malcolm Subban is a capable backup, and deserves to play half of the back-to-back games at minimum. We don’t want him sitting around like Santa for 364 days a year.
Winnipeg really does not need much when it comes to their roster, salary allocation, or anything of the sort. They looked primed to run over the Capitals in the finals, had they not run out of gas for the Vegas series. Winnipeg’s Christmas wish is for a different division. Having to go through Central division foes in Colorado and Nashville can be a trying task to look forward to the next number of years. Keeping the division lead and getting an easier matchup against a wildcard would help. We may also see them rest some players earlier than usual for NHL teams, in an effort to stay fresh for their long playoff run.
If you read the whole article, cheers! If you just skimmed some and skipped to your favourite team, that’s fine too. Let me know in the comments if you agree with what was said about them, or if you think there was something missed.
Ready for some more online shopping? Get in early on Dobber’s mid-season guide here! Arrives January 11th.
Previous Capped articles:
That caps off this week’s record article, thanks for reading. As always, you can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean.
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