Team by team thoughts about what has happened in 2015 and what is to come in 2016
These are the thoughts I complied from the past year off the top of my head. I apologize for any spelling mistakes, because I haven’t looked this over like I usually do and just wanted my main thoughts out there. I thank you all for reading over the year and I also look forward to growing this blog and posting more in 2016. Cheers.
The Anaheim Ducks had a pretty standard start of the year for their organization with a solid regular season and a disappointing playoff run that saw them fall short of reaching the Finals again. However, the latter portion of the year has not done them well. They’re not getting contributions from superstars and they’ve found themselves at the bottom of the league. Bob Murray and Bruce Boudreau will be under a lot of pressure come 2016.
Down in the desert, the Arizona Coyotes did their thing, finishing near the bottom of the league and landing Dylan Strome in the draft. This season, they’ve climbed into a playoff spot in the crappy Pacific Division and are going to have to bite and claw, literally, their way to the finish.
The Boston Bruins went through a lot of change but have found themselves in a good place. Despite trading away fan favorites Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic for futures, the Bruins still sit atop the Atlantic Division with Montreal and Florida. Their window is closing pretty quickly, though.
Buffalo finished pretty much exactly where we thought they would last year, but yet again they lost the draft lottery. Jack Eichel was a pretty nice consolation prize. The Sabres are still struggling to make it into the playoff picture and Tim Murray’s patented “Insta-Rebuild” hasn’t worked so far.
The Calgary Flames shocked everyone when they made the playoffs last year and made it to the semifinals. Analytical experts will agree, however, that their doom was in the making. The Flames have gone on a little bit of a streak to end 2015 and have found themselves back in the race, but no one is overly optimistic yet.
Down in Raleigh, the Hurricanes are in midst of their rebuild and not much is to be reported on. Their attendance isn’t the greatest but they have an owner that would fight to death over them. Maybe 2016 will bring the long mentioned Jeff Skinner trade? Oh, and Eric Staal has an expiring contract while Jordan Staal is locked in for another half decade, so that should be fun.
Chicago continued their dominance with another Stanley Cup — three in six years. They haven’t missed a beat despite losing Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya amongst others in the offseason. Will winning another Cup in 2016 official qualify them for the dynasty talk? It’s certainly possible.
The Colorado Avalanche have pretty much been stuck in limbo throughout most of 2015, and that hasn’t changed. They’re in a tough Central Division and can’t seem to budge through into a wildcard. Matt Duchene has really picked his game up at least.
Oh, Columbus. Last season it was injuries this year it is just bleh. They are last in the league this year despite showing promise during the first portion of the year and 2014 as well. The John Tortorella era also started. How long into 2016 until he barges into the Penguins dressing room all by himself?
The Dallas Stars have really rebounded after missing the 2015 playoffs. The latter portion of the year has been kind to them, but they need to kick it into another gear. They need to prove that they know how to clamp down, hold a lead, and handle playoff hockey.
The Detroit Red Wings have not missed a beat despite losing one of the best coaches in hockey, Mike Babcock. The Wings look destined to continue their absurd playoff streak, and it is just baffling at this point. 70% of their roster is made up of players they drafted. That’s impressive.
The Connor McDavid era started and ended in Edmonton quickly. I’m just joking. The Oiled finished close to the bottom of the league last year, but won the draft lottery for the fourth time in six year. The McDavid hype was put to a halt when he got injured long term at the start of the season. The aforementioned Pacific Division is terrible, so maybe Edmonton can put together a streak during 2016 when McDavid is back and make the playoffs?
Florida has impressed for the start of this season, and that’ll probably continue in 2016. Hopefully they can start filling some seats down there. They are a fun team to watch.
The Los Angeles Kings had their fair share of troubles in 2015 ranging from Mike Richards to Jarret Stoll, but it seems that they are figuring things out and that Dean Lombardi has things under control. I hope that is the case. They have re-established themselves as contenders after missing the playoffs and should give Chicago a run for their money.
The Minnesota Wild had a pretty solid year, mainly thanks to Devan Dubnyk. The Wild were on the cusp of blowing things up and firing Mike Yeo before Dubnyk came on January 14th. Now, they’ve found themselves in legit contention. Their next step is overpowering the Blackhawks, whom have manhandled them in the past few years, and becoming a Western superpower.
The Montreal Canadiens have had a solid year despite being kicked out in the second round of the playoffs last year and losing Carey Price for long term this year. They’ll be in the playoffs barring a major collapse and Carey Price will return better than ever. Now, how about that whole Bill Belichick mask thing…
The Music City and the Nashville Predators have been singing the same tune all year: being a good team but not being able to take that next step. They still need a bonafide center and maybe the new year will bring that since there’s so much trade speculation floating around. It’s also right to be concerned about Pekka Rinne for injury purposes.
The New Jersey Devils went through a massive overhaul this year that included the departure of Lou Lamoriello from the organization. Ray Shero and John Hynes have done a good job and the Devils have actually found themselves on the playoff cusp. They need to decide in the new year whether to be buyers or to be neutral at the trade deadline.
The New York Islanders saw their long time barn, the Nassau Coliseum, and have begun their rocky transition into Brooklyn. It’s been an emotional 2015 for them to say the least. At least the arena had one last good send off with a win in Game 6.
The Rangers failed to make it to the Finals last year, and Henrik Lundqvist’s time being the team’s savior is narrowing. They’ve had a rough end to the year but are primed to turn things around in 2016. Whether or not they can make it back to the promised land is the question.
The Ottawa Senators went on a miracle run in 2015 to make the playoffs, and currently sit in a playoff spot today as well. “The Hamburglar” emerged and played out of his mind. I remember tweeting about him they day he started and pretty much implied how screwed the Senators were. Boy, was I wrong. Cheers to this team and to Bryan Murray. Hopefully all turns out well for him and his family in 2016.
The Philadelphia Flyers had an average year, but probably won the 2015 draft. They have a boatload of defensive prospects and a lot to be excited for in the future. Gostisbehere made his debut towards the end of the year and gave the team and their fans a glimpse of what is to come.
Oh, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They traded for Phil Kessel in July but it’s been all downhill from there. They fired Mike Johnston a few weeks ago but still sit a handful of points out of a playoff spot. They need to turn things around in the new year because 2015 was brutal for them.
The San Jose Sharks missed the playoffs last year but 2015 has not been an awful year for them. They have been in a tough stretch recently but with the amount of talent on their roster, they can turn it around.
The St. Louis Blues saw another crushing playoff defeat in 2015 and seem inches away from blowing everything up. Ken Hitchcock could find himself on the hot seat. With all the contract negotiations around the league, no one seems to remember that David Backes needs one too. That should be an interesting storyline.
The Tampa Bay Lightning made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals this year but unfortunately (for them) succumbed to the Blackhawks. Their a mediocre team so far this year, and the distraction of Steven Stamkos probably doesn’t help. This’ll be good.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had an atrocious ’14-’15 season but have turned things around under Mike Babcock and his piles of money. They’ll be a good team when all of their prospects develop and especially since Babcock is now on board. In the mean time, Lou Lamoriello will also be there to train some of their younger front office executives. Shanahan is doing things right and Toronto should be happy.
The Vancouver Canucks made the playoffs in 2015 but don’t have much to show for it. They are in this weird middle period between competitiveness and rebuilding. Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen emerged this year though, so that was a plus for them.
The Capitals had a little bit of playoff success this year but not enough to fuel their desires. Brian McLellan went out and got TJ Oshie and Justin Williams over the summer. Kuznetsov has established himself as a dominant offensive presence. The Capitals are way atop the Eastern Conference. Things are going pretty swell right now, but they need to translate that into the new season in the spring.
The Winnipeg Jets finally had the whiteout return when the made the playoffs, but they’ve now found themselves struggling in the Western Conference. Luckily for them, they have Dustin Byfuglien and/or Andrew Ladd to trade which will yield a pretty penny in return. They, like Philadelphia, have a good farm system and have a lot to look forward to.
Again, thank you all for reading and I wish you a safe and happy new year. See you soon.