Christmas Wish List for NHL Canadian Teams

Tis the season to make up your wish list and cross your fingers that you will find all you want under the tree on Christmas morning. NHL teams are no different. Here is a quick look at what NHL Canadian teams need or want for Christmas to make 2023 a Happy New Year.

Christmas Wish List for NHL Canadian Teams

Calgary Flames – Chemistry Set

No team underwent a more dramatic change in personnel over the summer than the Calgary Flames. Star forward Johnny Gaudreau decided to leave before the face of the franchise, Matthew Tkachuk requested a trade out of town.

Flames’ GM Brad Treliving did a masterful job of absorbing the loss of Gaudreau and granting Tkachuk his wish by swinging a blockbuster trade with the Florida Panthers, bringing in forward Jonathan Huberdeau and defenceman MacKenzie Weegar and then signing free agent Nazem Kadri.

But after finishing first in the Pacific Division last season, the Flames are on the playoff bubble this season. Huberdeau is not Gaudreau. Kadri is not Tkachuk. Even Jacob Markstrom is not Jacob Markstrom this season. The new guys have had trouble fitting in and a definite lack of chemistry. Veteran head coach Darryl Sutter needs to find the right combination to get the Flames back on track soon.

Edmonton Oilers – Bubble Wrap

It’s no surprise to say, as go Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, so go the Edmonton Oilers. No two players are more integral to their team’s success than this dynamic duo. While it’s too late for Evander Kane, a big roll of bubble wrap under the tree would be a welcome sight for head coach Jay Woodcroft, general manager Ken Holland and every Oilers fan.

If one of these players goes down to injury for an extended period of time, it could make things very tense in the Alberta capital. If they both go down, it might be time to get an early start on the 2023 Draft!

Montreal Canadiens – Meditation Classes

Rebuilding can be a long, arduous process. Patience is a virtue. The Canadiens are currently led by young stars Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, who have looked very good at times. Kaiden Guhle looks like a blue-chipper on defence. First-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky and Kirby Dach both seem destined for long, productive NHL careers up front. But it’s still early.

That’s why the Canadiens’ organization, and maybe more so its fans should get a two-year pass for meditation classes and trust the process. General manager Kent Hughes and head coach Martin St. Louis, who are both new at their positions, will need to exercise patience.

Fans should enjoy the prospect of watching the organization on this journey and not get too worried about the obstacles along the way. It’s one of the most difficult parts of building a winning team. Calm… (red, white and) blue… ocean…

Ottawa Senators – Light Switch

A new owner for the Senators would be a great gift but that won’t be under the tree this year. What is needed is a light switch so they can flip from a rebuilding team to a playoff team. It’s a difficult transition from a team where losing for a number of years was expected to a team that now needs to turn to corner.

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That’s where the Senators find themselves right now. They drafted and developed the likes of Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Thomas Chabot, Joshua Norris and Drake Batherson. Then they added some proven NHL talent in Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux. But the results have not followed.

It’s the mindset that needs to change. Losing can no longer be acceptable, but it takes a while when the organization has been on the losing end and chalked it up to patience and process. If the switch doesn’t get flipped soon, it will be another lost season in the Nation’s Capital.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Four-Leaf Clover

The Maple Leafs are in desperate need of some puck luck. After getting off to a slow start in October, the storied franchise enjoyed a great deal of success in November that has carried over into December.

Their recent success has happened without the services of veteran defencemen Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie and Jake Muzzin. That has meant increased minutes for the likes Mark Giordano, Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin, all of whom have all responded positively to the extra workload.

But this is not a long-term winning formula for a team that needs to win now. The team needs some luck in the health department so that by the time the playoffs roll around, they will have an abundance of depth on the blue line.

They also need some puck luck in the playoffs. In the bubble of 2020, the Columbus Blue Jackets played spoiler with a win in the fifth and deciding game of the playoff qualifying round. In 2021, they were upset in seven games by the Montreal Canadiens, the team with the worst record going into the playoffs. And last season, they finished fourth overall and lost to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games. They need a lucky bounce this year.

Vancouver Canucks – Compass

The Vancouver Canucks are lost and in need of some direction. Are they winning now or rebuilding? Is Bruce Boudreau going to be the head coach beyond this season? How long does Jim Rutherford want to be the general manager? All these questions need clarification if there is to be any positive direction on the ice.

Their goalie of the future, Thatcher Demko has been backing up Spencer Martin at times. Three of their top-six defencemen are 31 or older, while 22-year-old Quinn Hughes appears to be the lone player with a bright future. Up front, Brock Boeser has permission to look for a trade and captain Bo Horvat will likely get traded before the end of the season.

Organizations need to define where they are in the building process; the Canucks appear to be going in two different directions at the same time. Until that is determined, the Canucks will continue to spin their wheels.

Winnipeg Jets – Gift Card

What do you get a team that has everything? With the exception of the injury to Nikolaj Ehlers, the Jets have rebounded from missing the playoffs last year to battling for the lead in both the Central Division and the Western Conference.

Connor Hellebuyck has been on top of his game all season, sitting among the league leaders in many statistical categories. Josh Morrissey is having a breakout season offensively, something the team has been waiting to happen. And Blake Wheeler has been anything but a distraction after having the captaincy taken away from him by new head coach Rick Bowness.

With everything going well for the Jets, a simple gift card should do the trick.

These are what the Canadian NHL teams need or want for Christmas. Let’s see how 2023 turns out for all.

What could your team use for Christmas? Leave your comments below.

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