Canadian Teams NHL Off-Season Plan

Unless one of the Canadian teams go on a ridiculous run these last three weeks, for the first time since 1970, there will be no Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs. LWOS will break down what each of the Canadian teams off-season game plan should address.

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames have taken a major step backwards this season. The Flames have gone from a team that won a playoff series last year, to potentially one of the bottom three teams in the league this year. What is head scratching is that the Flames brought back the same team as last year, but they also added  Dougie Hamilton, Michael Frolik and Sam Bennett to the roster.

The agenda is set for what the Flames must do this off-season. They must greatly improve in goal as well as overall team defense. Calgary is currently last in goals allowed per game at 3.08. Both Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo are unrestricted free agents, and the Flames will have to greatly improve in net. Calgary must have two new goalies next season.

Edmonton Oilers

For the Edmonton Oilers, it is clear what general manager Peter Chiarelli needs to do this summer. This team needs to continue to get better defensively and they need to add leadership. The Oilers roster does have a ton of skill and potential but at the same time asking a bunch of kids to take the NHL by storm in a hockey-crazed market is a big ask.

The player that should be the Oilers number one off-season target is New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic. Hamonic, who turns 26 this summer and is signed for four more years at a cap friendly $3.86 million annually, would check off both boxes on what Edmonton needs in order to take the next step. Hamonic is available as he requested a trade to Western Canada before the start of the season due to personal reasons. The Oilers and Islanders match up well in a trade because New York needs a goal scorer.

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens lost their franchise goalie Carey Price for a significant portion of this season. This team cannot fall apart as they have this season because of the loss of Price. Montreal’s team stats tell the story. They are 18th in goals scored per game, 20th in goals allowed per game and have the 23rd ranked power play. Only the penalty kill is doing well in regards to Montreal’s performance, as it’s currently ranked fifth.

The Canadiens are going to have to take a very long and hard look at this roster and think about changing the current mix. Montreal should be making a lot of calls this off-season and see if there is the right match via trade regarding some support up front for Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Gallagher. One thing is for sure: the Canadiens roster needs to get stronger in terms of offensive production.

Ottawa Senators

The Ottawa Senators might have masked where they are at as a franchise, with their ridiculous finish to the 2014-15 season, going 23-4-4. The Senators currently are ranked 27th in goals allowed per game as well as the power play.  Also, Ottawa has the second worst penalty kill unit. These stats show there is a lot of work to be done in Ottawa. Will a full season of Dion Phaneuf help improve this club in any way defensively?

Like Montreal, the Senators are very top heavy, and need to greatly improve on their second half of the roster. Craig Anderson turns 35 in May, so Ottawa is in need to greatly upgrade in net as well.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs, there is no need to break down this year’s team numbers, as they are in a rebuild. The key question is if a Brandon Saad type of player becomes available this summer, does GM Lou Lamoriello roll up his sleeves to move this rebuild along? Lamoriello has plenty of draft picks and prospects to make such an acquisition. Also, if Frederik Andersen of the Ducks becomes available, does Toronto try to solves it’s goalie situation? Do the Leafs move Tyler Bozak and/or Nazem Kadri this summer? Finally do the Leafs land the biggest free agent fish in Steven Stamkos? Many things in play for the Leafs.

Vancouver Canucks

This is going to be painful for Vancouver Canucks fans to read, but their best course of action is to follow the Leafs current plan of a full blown rebuild. It’s a short list of players currently on the Canucks roster that will be part of Vancouver’s long-term plan. Many of the core players on this roster are in their thirties. This point is highlighted with the Sedin’s turning 36 before opening night next season. Considering this squad is a lottery team, that adds up to a bad formula. Per Hockeys Future the Canucks have a middle of the pack prospect pipeline, and they are ranked 14th in the league. Top prospects Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann are a big part of this franchise’s future.

Winnipeg Jets

This is a tricky off-season for the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets have excellent young talent on the current roster, as well as one of the best prospect pools in the sport. Hockeys Future ranks the Jets with the second-best farm system. However, Winnipeg has six restricted free agents and two unrestricted free agents this off-season. After next season, Winnipeg has five more players to become RFAs and six more players to become UFAs.

Finally, there has been a lot of conversation that Jacob Trouba, who comes off his entry level deal at season’s end, is going to be a very cantankerous negotiation this summer. The situation between Trouba and the Jets could actually lead to a trade. Better days are ahead for the talented young Jets. They will be adding two first round picks to their loaded system this June. Having said that, Winnipeg has to work on what the blueprint is with all this young talent coming, but at the same time being a relevant team in the present.

The silver lining for the NHL fans in Canada is that there will be a lot of ping pong balls in this year’s lottery with a Canadian team on them. Future franchise player, Auston Matthews, has an excellent chance to wind up playing in Canada on a full-time basis.

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