When the Vancouver Canucks bowed out to the Vegas Golden Knights in Recreation 7 of their Western Convention semifinal Friday, Canada’s Stanley Cup drought formally hit 27 years.
Six of the nation’s seven markets had been a part of the NHL’s 24-team restart after the season was delivered to a screeching halt by COVID-19 in March, however solely the Canucks, Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames survived the qualifying spherical.
Montreal, the final Canadian franchise to seize the title all the best way again in 1993, and Calgary subsequently bowed out within the first spherical, whereas Vancouver beat the defending champion St. Louis Blues earlier than having its hopes dashed by Vegas.
With out realizing when the 2020-21 marketing campaign will start due to the pandemic — the NHL wish to get rolling Dec. 1, however that might be overly optimistic — and a wage cap set to remain flat for the foreseeable future, The Canadian Press takes a take a look at what’s going through golf equipment north of the 49th parallel in an uncommon low season.
After one other disappointing playoff efficiency, huge adjustments might be on the best way in Calgary. The Flames got here collectively within the wake of head coach Invoice Peters’ resignation following racism and bodily abuse allegations levied in opposition to him by former gamers in November. Interim coach Geoff Ward guided Calgary to victory over the Winnipeg Jets within the qualifying spherical earlier than the workforce imploded in opposition to the Dallas Stars, permitting seven straight objectives in opposition to after going up 3-Zero in a decisive Recreation 6.
Common supervisor Brad Treliving should decide Ward’s future, but in addition these of centre Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, who might each be traded. The crease additionally stays a query mark, with goalie Cam Talbot poised to hit unrestricted free company, whereas David Rittich has one yr left on his deal.
The Oilers made strides of their first season below head coach Dave Tippett and GM Ken Holland, however it’s clear a roster led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl nonetheless requires substantial upgrades. Edmonton had the NHL’s greatest energy play and No. 2-ranked penalty kill in 2019-20, however wants extra from its supporting forged.
Like their provincial rivals in Calgary, the Oilers have to handle goaltending The 2-headed monster of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen was satisfactory in the course of the common season, however let the workforce down in Edmonton’s four-game loss within the qualifying spherical. The excellent news for the Oilers and different groups in search of goalies? Loads are set to develop into obtainable on the open market.
There have been loads of positives for the Canadiens this summer season. Limping in direction of the top of a misplaced season when COVID-19 hit, Montreal was the ultimate workforce included within the restart. Led by veterans Carey Worth and Shea Weber, the Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins within the qualifiers, and had been the higher membership for a lot of their six-game defeat by the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. The place GM Marc Bergevin goes from right here can be attention-grabbing after buying and selling for backup goalie Jake Allen earlier this week.
Montreal’s previous guard confirmed it has loads left within the tank, whereas younger centres Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi confirmed they belong within the top-six of an NHL lineup. The Canadiens should work out what to do with ahead Max Domi, who led the workforce in scoring in 2018-19, however had a tough season and is ready to develop into a restricted free agent.
The one Canadian workforce not concerned within the restart, the Senators are poised to pick third and fifth on the NHL draft. It has been a tough three years within the nation’s capital, however Ottawa is primed to snag some top-end expertise. The Senators are poised to get a centre in Quinton Byfield or Tim Stutzle at No. 3 — a variety they acquired within the Erik Karlsson commerce with San Jose — and can pluck one other blue-chip prospect two spots later in a deep draft class.
GM Pierre Dorion must be busy with solely 4 NHL forwards presently on the roster, whereas there’s one other choice to make in aim with veteran Craig Anderson poised to hit free company — if he does not retire — and Anders Nilsson solely signed via 2021.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs, who had been ousted within the qualifying spherical by the Columbus Blue Jackets, made the low season’s first huge transfer when GM Kyle Dubas traded winger Kasperi Kapanen to Pittsburgh as a part of a package deal that included the No. 15 choose within the draft, a prospect and offered some much-needed wage cap house. The final half is maybe a very powerful as Toronto seems to improve its blue-line. The Leafs must shed extra wage to search out that elusive top-four right-shot defenceman, however the Kapanen swap was a begin.
It is unlikely Toronto strikes any of its stars up entrance in Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, however middle-six forwards Alexander Kerfoot and Andreas Johnsson might match the invoice. Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen has one yr left on his contract, however there have been rumblings he might be on the transfer.
The Canucks took an enormous leap ahead even earlier than the NHL was compelled to droop its schedule. Elias Pettersson confirmed he is an elite centre, rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes might snag the Calder Trophy, and captain Bo Horvat confirmed he is greater than able to main on and off the ice. Vancouver GM Jim Benning will, nevertheless, need to make some tough manoeuvring below the stagnate cap.
No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom is a pending unrestricted free agent, however what does Thatcher Demko’s heroic efficiency in opposition to Vegas do to alter the Canucks’ thought course of? Vancouver, which continues to pay its bottom-six ahead group far an excessive amount of, additionally has to remember Pettersson and Hughes can be due important raises after subsequent season.
The Jets defence corps was decimated final summer season by the departures of Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba and Ben Chariot earlier than Dustin Byfuglien left the workforce and ultimately had his contract terminated. Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will little doubt look to improve the blue-line in entrance of Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck.
The Jets fell to the Flames within the qualifying spherical, however had been with out injured forwards Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for a lot of the collection. One participant to look at is Laine, who’s getting into the ultimate yr of his bridge contract. Might he wind up being the commerce piece that helps bolster Winnipeg’s again finish?