Fireworks go off at the Centennial Classic
Leave 2016 in the past and look forward to what 2017 could bring for the NHL’s 30 teams with resolutions for all 30 clubs in the year ahead.
The New Year brings a chance for change, and for the NHL’s 30 teams, there’s the opportunity to turn the page on any failures that occurred over the year that was and look ahead with hope for what the future could bring.
As such, each team might be taking aim at one special resolution for 2017, and we’ve compiled a list of 30 resolutions below.
These aren’t resolutions in the traditional sense, which is to say you won’t find any suggestions that a player drop a pound or two and there won’t be any calls for teams to start making sure they start eating at least one green with every meal. What you will find are suggestions as to what could help change the fortunes for these teams over the next calendar year.
Here are your resolutions for all 30 teams:
Anaheim Ducks: Get more consistent goaltending out of John Gibson. Anaheim made noise in the off-season by shipping out Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Gibson has been good at times, but they need him to be a top-tier netminder if a deep playoff run is on the horizon.
Arizona Coyotes: Stop wasting a tremendous year from netminder Mike Smith. He’s putting together a strong campaign after a few tough seasons, but Arizona hasn’t given their netminder much help.
Boston Bruins: Find a reliable backup. Sadly, Malcolm Subban hasn’t been the answer in Beantown and it took until Dec. 1 for Anton Khudobin to finally earn himself a win in relief of Tuukka Rask.
Buffalo Sabres: Start the turnaround that we’ve all been expecting. Connor McDavid’s impact in Edmonton has been clear and Jack Eichel has done all he can to do the same for Buffalo, but the Sabres need to start finding some consistency and take more strides forward.
Calgary Flames: Decide on the future in goal. Brian Elliott took a while to get comfortable in the Calgary crease and Chad Johnson probably isn’t the long-term answer. Both are free agents at season’s end, so they need a plan in place for the off-season and 2017-18.
Carolina Hurricanes: Keep building using cap space as a tool. The Hurricanes might not seem like a team on the rise to casual observers, but Carolina has the pieces in place to build the base of a perennial playoff team.
Chicago Blackhawks: Choose wisely when clearing up cap space. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman doesn’t have a ton of options to clear large chunks of cap space. Sending the wrong player packing could be costly in the long run.
Colorado Avalanche: Part ways with a current core member to take a step forward. Right now, the Avalanche don’t have much to be hopeful about. Trading someone like Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog could give Colorado pieces to start righting the ship.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Prove they’re for real. No matter how many games in a row the Blue Jackets win on their current win streak, and no matter where they finish in the standings, Columbus needs some playoff success this season.
Dallas Stars: Get healthy. Dallas has had more issue with injury than just about any team, ranging from season-ending hip injuries to odd illnesses keeping players sidelined. Almost everyone, from stars to depth players, has dealt with injury.
Detroit Red Wings: Don’t cut corners as the rebuild begins. Detroit’s playoff streak is one of the greatest in sports history, and if it does end this season, the Red Wings need to make sure not to rush a rebuild.
Edmonton Oilers: Acquire one more piece to solidify the backend. The Adam Larsson trade may have been ill-advised, but it served to bring the Oilers some additional help on the back end. Finding one more depth piece could make all the difference.
Florida Panthers: Make sense of the front office and get back to winning ways. The off-ice decisions of the team have been as talked about as the on-ice actions. That’s never a good thing.
Los Angeles Kings: Land an offensive talent that can make a difference. Kings GM Dean Lombardi has been a wizard when it comes to deadline deals. Los Angeles needs that skill again this year to help their almost non-existent offense.
Minnesota Wild: Exorcise the playoff demons. Despite having some talented teams along the way, Minnesota hasn’t made the Western Conference final since 2002-03. Bruce Boudreau has the Wild looking as strong as ever.
Montreal Canadiens: Rely less on Carey Price. Even the best goaltender in the world needs help from time to time, and there’s enough talent in Montreal to go around that losing Price shouldn’t break the team.
Nashville Predators: Ensure P.K. Subban’s long-term health. Making the deal to send Shea Weber to Montreal for Subban was a potentially franchise-altering move that could blow up if Subban’s current injury lingers.
New Jersey Devils: Start moving forward. The pieces are in place with the likes of Cory Schneider, Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique. New Jersey remains a basement team, though. It’s time to take the next step.
New York Islanders: Find a suitable home for now and the future. Nassau Coliseum did the trick for many years, but it’s clear Barclays Center isn’t a fit. Either make it work for the NHL or find a new home.
New York Rangers: Ice a winner for ‘King Henrik.’ Lundqvist has been too good for too many years to not have a Stanley Cup to his name yet. He might not have any great years left, so ride his stellar play to a title while you still can.
Ottawa Senators: Quit wasting valuable years of Erik Karlsson’s career. No one is about to herald him as the second coming of Bobby Orr, but Karlsson is hands down the best offensive defenseman of his era. It would be a shame if the Senators failed to build a competing team around him.
Philadelphia Flyers: Find someway — any way — out of the Andrew MacDonald contract. A buyout would hurt, to be sure, but it will save the Flyers roughly $3.5 million in 2017-18 and 2018-19, then close to $4 million in 2019-20. It might be the only choice.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Fetch a return for Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s a difficult situation in Pittsburgh, but GM Jim Rutherford would do well to ensure he doesn’t simply lose Fleury for nothing through the expansion draft.
San Jose Sharks: Continue to surprise everyone. It was a confusing move to go all-in with an aging roster, but you can’t argue with results. The Sharks came within a few wins of the Stanley Cup and their window is still open.
St Louis Blues: Send off Ken Hitchcock in style. Mike Yeo is set to take over next season, but Hitchcock has served the Blues quite well despite some playoff difficulties. His job behind the bench is worthy of some hardware.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Find a way to keep Steven Stamkos healthy. It’s been disappointing to see Stamkos lose valuable games during the prime of his career due to injury. He’s a difference-maker for the Bolts.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Be patient with the kids. Winning the draft lottery and the right to select Auston Matthews helped speed up the rebuilding process, but Toronto can’t lose sight of the end goal.
Vancouver Canucks: Talk to the Sedins about a rebuild. Canucks president Trevor Linden said it wouldn’t be fair to the two talented Swedes, but Vancouver needs to start turning over its team because the current roster won’t cut it.
Washington Capitals: Manage to keep Evgeny Kuznetsov and Karl Alzner without damaging the cap situation. Capitals GM Brian MacLellan faces tough decisions this off-season.
Winnipeg Jets: Convince Trouba to stay or land an equal talent in return. The Jets hold almost all the cards when it comes to the 22-year-old blueliner. If he still wants out come the off-season, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff would do well to find a way to change Trouba’s mind or seek a trade partner willing to give Winnipeg a sizeable package in exchange.
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