With Christmas upon us, some NHL teams lists for Santa are quite long, and some are also unattainable, but we will see what Santa can bring these squads as we move past the holiday season and into the heart of the hockey season. First, for a few of the struggling younger teams, time is all that is needed for Christmas. Carolina, Toronto and Arizona will be full blown contenders iin a handful of years and may be making space in their collective trophy rooms for Lord Stanley’s Cup. These three teams are stocked with top end prospects that just need to really understand the game, meaning ownership needs patience to see this growing process through to fruition. I really love the way things are shaping up and am calling my shot on one of them winning the Cup in the next five to seven years.
Second, we have the next group of teams hovering around the 30-36 point mark, and some are on the way up with the likes of the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. Florida has regularly taken a step back this early season along with fellow Floridians Tampa Bay. Both teams need Santa to help them find the cohesion that worked last season, and quickly reapply it before it is too late. I picked Tampa to win the East this season, so Santa, please help. And while I am begging Mr. Claus, bring Tampa a healthy Steven Stamkos please for the long, sustained playoff run I want to see, and bring Florida what’s needed to get the new faces acquainted with the system that took the Panthers deep into the playoffs last year. And, God Bless Jaromir Jagr as he has just passed Mark Messier for second all-time in Points in the NHL.
Then there are teams in that same point range who are on the way down and will be doing a full blown rebuild soon. My beloved Red Wings, I’m looking right at you guys. I’m asking Santa to bring us two top three defensemen now, or for management to clean house and start the rebuild now. Aside from Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin, all can be had.
The New York Islanders frustrate me to no end, and if the team is not careful they’re going to lose their most important player in John Tavares. JT must wonder why management cannot construct a plan to surround him with more talent up front, and not let studs like Kyle Okposo walk right on across the state to Buffalo. Tavares will soon be an Unrestricted Free Agent, and there are GM’s dreaming at night of adding such a world class talent to their teams, a real difference maker and bona fide stud.
Nashville, Dallas and Los Angeles will be asking Santa for some help as well. The Kings mostly need Goaltender Jonathan Quick back and healthy very soon, and some additional scoring depth would be a fitting stocking stuffer. Dallas needs a goalie, plain and simple. The revolving door of Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen is a carousel that is making Stars fans sick. While Nashville just needs to find the wheels from last year, who would have guessed it would have taken this long to get used to life without Shea Weber. P.K. Subban is offensively as gifted as Weber, but I feel the team defense is lacking without the big man back there and they need to right the ship right now.
Calgary needs Brian Elliott to play like he did last season for the St. Louis Blues, and Santa needs to get the Flames top four defensemen a guide on how to play defense again. It’s all fine to join the rush and score, but if there are three Flames sweaters already in front of you, pass the puck, and quit leaving the fifth sweater out to dry once the puck changes possession. In Minnesota, they are asking Santa for more scoring depth and for netminder Devan Dubnyk to keep it up. The man is playing out of his mind right now. The Wild are 9-0-1 in their last ten, and are staking their claim in the West as a legitimate contender.
The Washington Capitals are another powerhouse, so maybe Santa can help them remember just how good they really are and give netminder Brayden Holtby a goal cushion to play with like last season.
And to all a good night!
You can always contact me @PolkaPat.