With the Stanley Cup Final behind us, it is time to focus at another task at hand and that is the offseason. Teams are already starting to look forward to the 2017-18 campaign and there are teams that are poised to make some noise this offseason and there are teams that look to be screwed for the offseason. Some teams are ready to make some noise due to the amount of cap space that they have, and others are ready to strike by having a plethora of draft picks for this year's NHL Draft. Now the 31 hockey teams have to figure out what direction that they want to go in for the 2017-18 campaign.
There is definitely some talent out there in the free agent market that some teams could take full advantage of. Some of the marquee free agents could be on the move, and we could see some of them actually move and take their talents to another franchise. Some teams would love to have some new faces for their franchise and others would like to get a group of guys together to help win a championship.
This offseason will certainly have its ups and downs, but for the most part it is fun to see which teams go all out this offseason to try to improve their team for the next few years and then it is fun to see teams that are struggling to acquire talent due to lack of cap room, and other different scenarios that affect them. With that being said here are the 8 teams that are screwed this offseason and 7 teams that are prime to strike.
15 Screwed - Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets already have 23 players under contract for the 2017-18 season, and look to be in a rough spot for this offseason. The Blue Jackets roughly have around $16.8 million in cap space, but the position that Columbus needs to upgrade is not heavy loaded in free agency. With the need at right wing, and also at defense the Blue Jackets look to be put into a tough situation this off season.
There are defenseman that the Blue Jackets can add to their blue line, but at right wing there are not enough good veterans that Columbus could acquire via free agency that could help them in 2017-18. Plus Columbus has to think of potentially just keeping things the way they are, because they had so much team chemistry last season, and they don't want to sign a guy who could potentially ruin that team chemistry. With that being said Columbus will have to think what is the best for the long term.
14 Strike - Nashville Predators
With the Predators making the Stanley Cup Final this year, they are poised to have a big offseason to help and make the roster even better to come back to the Stanley Cup Final for more years to come - and to win it next time. Yes, the Predators have most of their roster under contract in 2017-18, but they are going to need some serious help at the wing. Nashville has had success this season, but they are going to need to bring in some veteran talent that will help them for not only next year, but for years to come.
The Nashville Predators have roughly $24 million in cap space so they could go out and sign a T.J. Oshie, or Alexander Radulov, etc... but they could also sign a Drew Stafford, and add more pieces to help bring them back to the Stanley Cup Final. Look for the Predators to become a big time player in this year's offseason.
13 Screwed - Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche have not made the playoffs since the 2013-14 season, and look to be going to a full rebuilding phase. With 14 players currently signed through the 2017-18 season, and the Avalanche roughly having $25.7 million in cap space the Avalanche should be poised to make some moves right? Wrong, the Avalanche are looking screwed going into the offseason. With all the turmoil of guys like Gabriel Landeskog not happy, it does not look like any free agents will want to sign with Colorado.
Colorado needs way more than a few pieces to contend, they also need a goaltender who is not Seymon Varlamov. The Avalanche are paying him $5.75 million next season, and then $5.5 million the following season which is terrible since he has not played like he is worth $5.75 million a year. Once they move on from Varlamov then everything should work itself out, but unfortunately with the goaltending market not strong it looks like they will be screwed this offseason. Oh, and despite their terrible 30th place season, they were knocked down to the 4th overall pick in the draft lottery.
12 Strike - Washington Capitals
With Washington's beavy of free agents, you might think they're screwed, but after a disappointing playoff exit, it also lends an opportunity to retool. The Washington Capitals have currently 11 players under contract, and they also have roughly $26.6 million in cap space which is good for Washington. They do need to re-sign Oshie, but they can add some depth at forward and they could sign some veterans to cheap deals to help out both the offense and the defense. The Capitals have been one of the better regular season teams in the previous five seasons, and it has led to nothing since they struggle in the postseason. They already have their franchise player, their goaltender, and their number one center, but they need to find players that can fit into the game plan that they have for next season.
The Capitals are going for a win or bust type of season, and they definitely need the veterans to help out Ovechkin and Backstrom. With that being said look for the Capitals to keep popping up this off season.
11 Screwed - Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins were a playoff team a year ago, but with the roster that they had there is no reason why they should have exited in the first round. Boston currently has 18 players under contract for the 2017-18 season, and have roughly $18.5 million in cap space. Even with the good amount of cap space that they roughly have, the Bruins are screwed this offseason. With the offense looking like it is all set for the future, the Bruins need to focus on their blue line.
Boston has some young prospects who could finally be making it in the NHL, but knowing Boston they will screw their young talent by signing some veteran to a ridiculous contract. With all the veteran defenseman free agents available the Bruins are more than likely to sign one of them, which will screw up the development of some of their young prospects.
10 Strike - Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the youngest teams in the National Hockey League, and they have one of the brightest futures of any team in the National Hockey League. Toronto currently has 20 players under contract for the 2017-18 season, and they have roughly $19.3 million in cap space. The Maple Leafs are all set in their goaltending department, but they need help on defense and at the wing position. Veterans could help lead this team in the right direction even with James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and company.
If the Maple Leafs sign some talent or acquire via a trade they will absolutely be one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. Toronto seems to be one big name player away from being labeled as a contender for the Stanley Cup. Look for Toronto to be making some serious noise as they will look to win the offseason.
9 Screwed - Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets has been labeled as a franchise that most players in the National Hockey League would like to not play in, means that the Jets look like they will be screwed this off season. The Jets currently have 18 players under contract, and have roughly $28.6 million in cap space. Winnipeg's biggest need is goaltending as they don't have a starting caliber goaltender currently signed for next season.
Michael Hutchinson as struggled in the NHL and looks to be nothing more than a backup in the National Hockey League. Winnipeg has a young core of forwards and defenseman that they can use to help them bring back into the post season for the first time since 2014-15, but they need some help on the back end to be able to do that. With no goaltending means that there is no way that Winnipeg makes the post season, and with no good starting goaltenders in free agency it looks like the Jets will have a tough offseason.
8 Strike - Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are looking to bounce back and make the playoffs next season. Philadelphia currently has 16 players under contract for the 2017-18 season, and Philly has roughly $22.2 million in cap space. The Flyers need goaltending in the worst way, but they also need some help on offense. A season ago Jakub Voracek led the team in points with 61, but then Claude Giroux only had 58 points. The big three of Voracek, Giroux, and Simmonds need to be a big time force, but they can only do so much.
With some help on offense the Flyers can take a step closer to making it back to the playoffs, but then they need to find their goalie of the future. Steve Mason is a free agent and you need to move on from him, then you currently have Michal Neuvirth who was hot and cold from a year ago, and there are no good starting goalies for the Flyers to sign. Look for Philadelphia to be a big time player this offseason as they look to get back on track.
7 Screwed - Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks were swept from the first round of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators, which was one of the biggest surprises of the 2016-17 season. Chicago currently has 23 players under contract, and roughly $4.5 million in cap space. The Blackhawks are known for moving guys around to try and get a different look for them, but this does not look like one of those offseasons.
Chicago was very good a year ago, and with the roster that they have there is now way why they would not be able to be that good again next year, but with getting swept in the first round draws questions of how good was Chicago actually? The Blackhawks have guys that they can say can help them, but then there are some names that I don't think can help Chicago win another Stanley Cup. Chicago will be very quiet this offseason and it could hurt them in the 2017-18 season.
6 Strike - Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings were hurt by injuries a season ago, and Jonathan Quick was the biggest part of that injury train. The Kings currently have 17 players under contract for the 2017-18 season, and roughly have $22.7 million in cap space. If the Kings can remain healthy they can easily be a contender for the Stanley Cup in 2017-18. Los Angeles needs some big moves to acquire some wingers, and a backup goalie this offseason.
With the cap space that Los Angeles roughly has and the past success that the Kings have had, they look to be one of the teams that are going to make the most moves this offseason. The Kings are poised to be one of the big time players this off season, and look for them to sign some veteran forwards to help push the Kings closer to contention.
5 Screwed - Ottawa Senators
It is hard to say that a team that was one goal away from going to the Stanley Cup Final is going to be screwed this offseason, but the Ottawa Senators are going to be screwed this offseason. The Senators currently have 19 players under contract, and will roughly have $17.2 million in cap space. Ottawa definitely needs some help on defense, and they are going to have to make some moves that will not only help next season, but help for the future as well.
With the likes of Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, and Erik Karlsson going to hit free agency in the next two years, Ottawa needs to be able to figure out who is going to be in the long-term plans and who is not going to be.
With that being said without not knowing who definitely is in the long-term plans it is going to be hard for Ottawa to add players to their roster, if they don't have a good solid long-term plan.
4 Strike - Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning are poised to strike this offseason, as not only do they have three of their guys as restricted free agents, but they roughly have a good amount of cap space to make some moves. Tampa Bay currently has 13 players under contract for the 2017-18 season, and will have roughly $28.4 million in cap space. Just like the Kings, the Lightning got hit by the injury bug, especially with one of their star players Steven Stamkos getting hurt for the majority of the year.
With a healthy Stamkos coming back, and the Lightning having all of that cap room look for them to be serious players in the offseason. Tampa Bay will have their work cut out for them, and they can sign some talent to help Stamkos. Look for Tampa Bay to reload and be ready to contend again next season.
3 Screwed - New York Islanders
The New York Islanders have taken a step back so to say, and look to be really screwed this off season. With the Islanders already having 22 players under contract, and having roughly $7.5 million in cap space, they look like they are in some serious trouble this offseason. Besides John Tavares, the players the Islanders have under contract are not big names that catch your attention. They are also a very young team, and look to be in a big rebuilding phase.
With that being said if the Islanders are rebuilding it does not look like they will be able to acquire some talent in free agency. The Islanders definitely need to figure out who their goaltender of the future is going to be, and they need to get help on offense for Tavares. With no help for Tavares it looks like it will be another long year for the Islanders.
2 Strike - Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers made a huge impact on the National Hockey League a season ago, and this offseason should be a huge one for the Oilers. With Edmonton having 17 players currently under contract, and will have roughly $29.7 million in cap space, they look to be the team that is going to be making the most moves this offseason. One task that Edmonton needs to do is to re-sign Leon Drasiaitl who was their second best offseason player from a season ago.
Edmonton needs some help on their blue line and they should be looking to either go big and sign a Kevin Shattenkirk, or go smart and sign one or two veteran blue liners to reasonable deals. If Edmonton can help keep/get talent to play with Connor McDavid they will be contenders for the near future.
1 Screwed - Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks seem to be the most doomed team going into the offseason. The Canucks have 17 players currently under contract for the 2017-18 season, and will have roughly $22.1 million in cap space. For starters they don't have a goaltender that is a starting caliber goalie, then they need some help on not only defense, but on offense as well. The Canucks seem to be in a tough situation because not only do they have to focus on the future, but they need to figure out if the Sedin Twins are part of the plans for the near future.
With the Sedins set to be free agents after next season look for Vancouver to struggle all offseason on what the right move is for them to make moving forward. The Canucks are going to be put in a tough situation that will not only have the fans wondering all summer what is going to happen to this team, but if they have a plan to contend in the near future.
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