July is Christmas, and I’ve decided to give each NHL team a hypothetical gift. Some gifts are necessary, while others are just for fun. And it’s all explained.
What should your favorite team have on their wish list?
Gift: mic’d by Trevor Zegras.
Every game. Do the Zegras show in Anaheim. Because with reconstruction going on under GM Pat Verbeek, it will be several years before the Ducks are ready to compete. Until then, Zegras has enough skill and personality to retain SoCal fans.
Gift: Something – anything – to believe in.
It’s been too long since fans in Arizona have much to root for. Bad arena location in Glendale, a poor quality product – it’s very raw. The Coyotes needed a new arena in Tempe in the worst way. And GM Bill Armstrong needs to make sure the latest rebuild is successful.
The Gift: A Change in Nick Foligno’s Contract.
For $3.8 million, Foligno’s contract requires much more than the 13 points contributed this season. Granted, injuries have stymied the sure-footed winger, but for a team like the Bruins in dire need of in-depth scoring abilities, his contract is an anchor.
Gift: The smashing table in the middle of the ice between periods.
The Bills Mafia is notorious for destroying tables at NFL parties. Why not bring some fun inside the KeyBank Center?
The Calgary Flame
Gift: Johnny Hockey and Matthew Tkachuk signed a long-term contract.
It would not be enough to just sign Gaudreau. He may be the best free agent available this season, but the Flames need Tkachuk just as much. General Manager Brad Treliving said Calgary will do what it takes to re-sign Gaudreau. He couldn’t go back to those words.
Gift: Filip Forsberg.
I love the Hurricanes ethos under coach Rod Brind’Amour. And Sebastien Aho is an incredible talent. But Carolina needed a star player capable of filling the net. Hello Mr. Forsberg, who just had a 42-goal season.
Gift: A season without a TV series.
The Blackhawks have been rocked by scandal and underperformed on the ice in 2021-22. Chicago used to be a proud Original Six brand. But the Blackhawks are at the bottom right now. A season without negative headlines would be their biggest win yet.
Gifts: Golf, drinks, unlimited dinners for life, and luxury cars for all Avalanche players with discounts at home on their next contracts.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog got his first haircut. Will Nazem Kadri and other pending UFAs follow suit? Avalanche needs all the help they need to keep their core players. Colorado is a great place to live – with the perks it’s almost impossible to beat.
Columbus blue jacket
Gifts: A PR firm can sell the vastly underrated city of Columbus to potential freelance agents.
Maybe that’s my Midwestern life along Highway 70. I’ve always thought of Columbus a lot like my hometown of St. My Louis. And I enjoyed my brief time playing for the Blue Jackets. But Columbus was a tough sell for freelancers. That needs to change: it’s a great place to live and raise a family.
Gift: Bubble wrap for the team’s goalkeepers.
Ben Bishop was forced to retire before the expiration of his contract due to a knee injury. Anton Khudobin has missed most of the 2021-22 season due to injury. And Braden Holtby couldn’t finish that year. Let’s hope Jake Oettinger catches the trauma trend in ‘Big D.’
Detroit Red Wings
Gifts: A reality show featuring GM Steve Yzerman.
I don’t know what’s going on in Yzerman’s head, other than a formulaic plan for success. That’s never going to happen, but I’d love to see a camera crew follow Yzerman around. Perhaps he reads Dickens novels in his spare time. Who knows? I certainly don’t. Let’s find out together.
The Gift: Clarity from Mike Smith and Duncan Keith.
If both players choose not to play next season – despite having a year left on their contracts – that would give the Oilers almost $8 million in limited space to play. That’s a lot of hard work for a club that needs signings with quality depth.
Gift: A warm-up song for the Kodak Black collaboration featuring the team members.
What better way to engage fans? Drop that track as soon as possible. Kodak Black shot to fame during a scene at a Panthers home game in January. He’s forever attached to the South Florida franchise. Top up it!
Los Angeles Kings
Gift: A full-time return to the main emblem of the Kings used between 1988 and 1998.
The current main logo looks like someone painted graffiti on the house plate at a baseball game. Bring back the logo Wayne Gretzky wore during his time in the City of Angels.
The Gift: An All-Star Season from Matthew Boldy.
Replaced 85 points and 33 goals just walked out the door with Kevin Fiala It won’t be easy, but Wild is looking forward to Boldy’s sublimation. The 21-year-old striker picked up 39 points from 47 games last season and scored 1 point per game in the knockout stages.
Gift: A captain.
Montreal was another team this past season without Phillip Danault and Carey Price. But it really missed Shea Weber’s leadership. Who’s in charge of Habs’ dressing room? That question needs to be answered.
Gift: A backup scorer for Juuse Saros.
Nashville has won just seven games this season without Saros in the net, and the Preds were overtaken by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round with him injured. Saros may be the heartbeat of the team, and he has led the NHL in games played this season, but he needs help.
New Jersey Devil
Gift: An arena not available in Newark.
I don’t know how to move an entire arena. It will probably use alien technology. But it’s a pity that an institution as splendid as the Prudential Center is located in a place that can make every visitor swoon. And it’s a hard sell for freelancers.
New York Islanders
You then. Facial hair. I already said. Let the players be themselves. Mustache on the handlebars. Have a presence on social media. Allow the creativity to flow and see if it helps to make some juice for the iced product. It can’t hurt.
New York Ranger
The gift: A 30-goal season from Alexis Lafreniere.
The first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft has scored 19 times in 79 games in his sophomore campaign, up from 12 of the previous year’s 56 games. If Lafreniere’s game continues to grow, watch out. Because Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko also showed clear signs of improvement in the play-offs for the Stanley Cup.
Senator of Ottawa
Gift: Claude Giroux
I truly believe that if Ottawa is willing to spend on the right veterans, the Senators can fight for a playoff spot next season. Landing Giroux, who lived there during the off-season, would be a big win for GM Pierre Dorion on and off the ice. Investing in Giroux will be a positive message to fans. But Giroux showing his trust in the organization will mean more than that.
Gifts: Young talents rise up during the holidays.
The Flyers may have been successful last year, but Philadelphia didn’t get much out of their system. Whether it’s Morgan Frost, Cam York, Noah Cates, Max Willman, Ronnie Attard or Bobby Brink, someone needs to take advantage of an opportunity.
Gift: Marc-Andre Fleury.
Just make it happen. Bring ‘Flowers’ home.
San Jose Sharks
Gift: Realize that the team needs a complete rebuild.
I understand the desire to reuse tools quickly. But there’s no GM in place right now, and the Sharks are buried in three huge contracts for underperforming defenders. On top of that, San Jose just extended an eight-year extension to Tomas Hertl, 28. What is the plan for the Sharks? I do not know. And I’m not sure they do either.
Gifts: Table hunting division.
Kraken started their first season with Andrew Allen as their goalkeeping coach. After a disappointing season by the team’s own goalscorers, he was released. Now Kraken has no goalkeeping coach on the payroll, when most teams have three. Seattle is behind badly when it comes to goals.
St Louis Blues
Gift: Ville Husso.
It really is a gift because Husso will have suitors this off-season. The 27-year-old has shouldered the charge for the Blues throughout last season and has headed a lot. Goalkeeper is an indispensable position of St. Louis in the late game. It may cost more than he wants, but if GM Doug Armstrong can keep Husso at St. Louis, that should alleviate any questions in the net.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Gift: One year of monthly jelly club membership.
It is a gift that never stops giving. Tampa Bay has had a lot of luck lately. A nice rhubarb jam can also be added to the cabinet.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Gift: Goodbye first leg at the Stanley Cup knockout.
Is that possible? First six losses in a row for the Maple Leafs. And even if this season feels different, does it even matter? It’s like Groundhog Day. Send Toronto directly to round two and see what happens. NHL can do it, right?
Gift: A return uniform in black, gold and red with the flying skate logo.
I really like the colors of the current Vancouver uniform. Blue, green and white is a unique combination. It’s luxurious. But the logo – an orca breaking out of the letter C – looks goofy. Back to the black shirt for beauty. They look mean. Walking from Slap will approve.
Vegas Golden Knights
Gift: A top power game.
Vegas struggled hard to score with the man advantage last season. If new head coach Bruce Cassidy can get the Golden Knights into the top third of the league in the power play, there’s no way Vegas will miss the playoffs..
Gift: JT Miller.
With Nicklas Backstrom out indefinitely and there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to continue a worthy career in the Hall of Fame, the Capitals need a scoring center. It would take a sizable offer to get Miller out of Vancouver, but it could be a necessity.
Even the offer of a free beer for life couldn’t entice Barry Trotz to take the head coach job. At least they can entice Rick Bowness. Winnipeg is a fun city even if it’s the coldest I can remember. Maybe the whole team only needs one mandatory sleigh excursion once a month. I’ll sign that up in a heartbeat.