every nhl team needs holidays

#NHL #team #holidays

It’s the holiday season, and I’ve decided to give each NHL team a hypothetical gift. Some presents are needed, while others are just for fun — and all are up for interpretation.

What should your favorite team have on its wish list?

Anaheim Ducks

Gift: Five extra days off during the NHL All-Star break

The Ducks have only nine wins. The team is rebuilding, and it’s been a miserable 2022-23 season so far. Reschedule a few games until after the trade deadline, and let the guys blow off steam.

Arizona Coyotes

Gift: A mullet wig giveaway night

Sure, things are weird in the desert. The Coyotes have been rebuilding for what seems like 20 years, but the team is 4-3-2 on home ice inside Mullett Arena. Give the fans a reason to keep coming back, and vote “yes” in May on the proposed arena in Tempe.

Boston Bruins

Gift: Truth serum

Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand returned to the lineup well before the team’s original predictions. Did the Bruins pull a fast one on the hockey world? Maybe McAvoy and Marchand are superhuman. Give me the whole truth and nothing but the truth on their miraculous rehabs.

Buffalo Sabres

Gift: A fruit basket for Jason Botterill

I guess it would be tampering to send a thank-you basket to another team’s assistant general manager, but when Jason Botterill was GM of the Sabres, he received all kinds of flak for trading Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Tage Thompson and a few spare parts. Botterill was let go by the Sabres and now serves as assistant GM of the Seattle Kraken, but Sabres fans have him to thank for Thompson.

Calgary Flames

Gift: Chemistry

It sounds so simple — and maybe it’s just an excuse considering how well-oiled the Flames’ top line used to be with Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk — but with two of those three names no longer in Calgary, the Flames are still juggling lines in search of the magic combination.

Carolina Hurricanes

Gift: Bo Horvat

Carolina is riding a wave of inspired goaltending from rookie sensation Pyotr Kochetkov. The Hurricanes show up almost every night and play to their hard-working identity. However, the power play needs help, and the center ice position could use some depth. Bo Horvat solves both problems.

Chicago Blackhawks

Gift: Estate sale yard signs

Any hope of a competitive year in Chicago went out the window months ago. The Blackhawks are last in the NHL with just 18 points. It’s time for GM Kyle Davidson to sell off what’s left. The bidding for superstar forward Patrick Kane begins now.

Colorado Avalanche

Gift: Jedi force healing

No other NHL team has been dealt a more rigid hand with injuries than the Avalanche. While Colorado is still in the Stanley Cup playoff hunt, the sheer number of impact players out of the lineup is daunting. It’s time to consult the Jedi. The Force can accelerate natural healing processes.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Gift: A new home for Elvis Merzlikins

It’s time. Merzlikins’ .864 save percentage is the worst in the NHL. He’s lost his technique, and Merzlikins has shown some horrible body language. A change would probably be best for both sides, especially considering Daniil Tarasov – and his .913 save percentage – has proved ready for an expanded role.

Dallas Stars

Gift: Bonuses for the amateur scouting staff

The number of homegrown players making a difference in the Stars lineup is astounding. Jason Roberston, Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen, Jake Oettinger, Ty Dellandrea, Wyatt Johnston – do I need to keep going? No, I don’t.

Detroit Red Wings

Gift: A PR campaign for Elmer Soderblom

He’s 6-foot-8 and 246 pounds of Swedish shot-blocking fury. The NHL could be doing crossover promotions galore with this guy. Strongman competitions. Basketball challenges with Charles Barkley. You name it. Let’s hope he stays in the NHL for the rest of the season.

Edmonton Oilers

Gift: Vladislav Gavrikov

Don’t plan the parade yet, but Gavrikov would probably be the best option to improve team defense without giving away the farm. Maybe the Oilers could include underperforming forward Jesse Puljujarvi in the deal. That soap opera needs to end.

Florida Panthers

Gift: Vitamin D for road trips

The Panthers are 8-4-3 on home ice, but on the road, Florida has only seven wins in 18 matches. That record has to improve for the franchise to have any hope of making the Stanley Cup playoffs. Players get ample sunshine in Florida but can’t get it on the road as often. Break out the Vitamin D pills.

Los Angeles Kings

Gift: Candy canes from the North Pole

Wait. Did Los Angeles already receive its Christmas present? It did! It’s goaltender Pheonix Copley, the 30-year-old journeyman who’s now 5-1-0 in a Kings jersey. The netminder hailing from North Pole, Alaska, has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his five wins.

Minnesota Wild

Gift: Reverse retro forever

Ditch the Christmas colors already. It’s time to make green, yellow and white the permanent colorway for the franchise. Maybe I’m overly nostalgic for the old North Stars look, but the Wild’s reverse retro jerseys are absolute fire.

Montreal Canadiens

Gift: Unlimited Montreal smoked meat and bagels for the player development staff

Imagine playing three rookie defensemen every night in the NHL and still managing to rank 23rd league-wide in points. That’s the Habs. Credit where it’s due: Montreal did a fantastic job of preparing blue liners Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj and Jordan Harris before they turned pro, and they’re going to keep improving.

Nashville Predators

Gift: Jack’s Bar-B-Que takeout and Matt Duchene’s guitar

Nashville stinks on the road. The Preds need some down-home cooking and good times on the plane. Takeout from Jack’s should be on the menu and a private concert by Duchene on every trip. The Preds need some positive vibes and depth scoring.

New Jersey Devils

Gift: A one-timer for the power play

Devils fans wanted head coach Lindy Ruff fired. Then they apologized. Now they’re getting restless once again as the Devils continue to slide in the standings. What’s missing? A decent power play. Ruff has hesitated to break up Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt with the man advantage, but the Devils need someone to pound the puck from the flanks.

New York Islanders

Gift: A bigger curve for Mathew Barzal

Get Barzal one of Alex Ovechkin’s sticks, and let’s see what happens. He only has four goals so far this season, and his shooting percentage is at a career-low 5.1 percent. Barzal might have 28 assists, and that’s great, but he needs to find the back of the net more often.

New York Rangers

Gift: Rage

Sometimes red mist can be used in a positive way. It took captain Jacob Trouba flipping out and throwing a helmet for the Rangers to get their act together. I think New York plays better with a burr under the saddle. Get mad, and stay mad.

Ottawa Senators

Gift: Oxygen (and a wingman) for Thomas Chabot

Chabot is an absolute workhorse, but at some point, the Senators have to reduce his workload. He’s been running hot for years, and it’s primarily due to the lack of dependable depth on the blue line. I like where the Sens are headed, and I love Chabot. But he needs some help.

Philadelphia Flyers

Gift: Sweaters

For the players, that is. Not for John Tortorella, who regularly wears one over his dress shirt and tie. Why? Because I think it might lighten the mood in Philadelphia. It’s way too tense for a team that’s floundering once again. Maybe the sweaters would give Tortorella something to laugh about. Imagine a full lineup of Flyers players arriving for a road game dressed up like their head coach.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Gift: The Stanley Cup playoffs begin now

Pittsburgh has been on an absolute tear, and as it currently stands, the Penguins would face the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the postseason. With the way Sidney Crosby and Tristan Jarry are playing, I think the Pens would crush the Devils, but is Pittsburgh peaking early? That’s my only concern.

San Jose Sharks

Gift: The ultimate fire sale

Sell everything! I can’t think of a single player the Sharks must keep, even Timo Meier. San Jose should have torn it all down a year or two ago, but there’s still time for GM Mike Grier to collect assets. Trade everyone.

Seattle Kraken

Gift: A plan for Shane Wright

Whatever Seattle had in mind for Wright at the start of the season, it didn’t work. Wright was a healthy scratch. Then he got sent to the AHL. Now he’s slated to play for Canada in the World Junior Championships. Seattle can hit the reset button on Wright in 2023: Send him to the OHL, and let him dominate. Wright needs to play.

St. Louis Blues

Gift: Get-out-of-jail-free card

St. Louis has been so streaky this season that I can’t help but think there’s another downturn ahead. That’s why a get-out-of-jail-free card would be valuable. The Blues can handle losing two games in a row, but they can’t go on another extended skid. St. Louis should use the card when a victory is needed most.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Gift: Nothing

If you’re a fan of the TV show “Metalocalypse,” you’ll know exactly what this means. Nothing is the most brutal gift in the world, and honestly, the Lightning have everything they need: two recent Stanley Cups and a chance at another this season. What do you give a team that already has everything? I guess maybe a defenseman.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Gift: Secret service protection for Michael Bunting

Bunting is terrorizing opponents and on-ice officials alike. He has a point in 11 of his last 12 games, but he’s also in the middle of every scrum. At some point this season he might make enough people angry that a full security detail will be necessary to get him out of an NHL building, and that’s a good thing for the Maple Leafs.

Vancouver Canucks

Gift: More from Patrik Allvin, less from Jim Rutherford

Allvin is the general manager of the Canucks, but up until recently, he’s hardly spoken publicly. It’s been mostly Rutherford talking about the team’s play. Who’s really in charge? Does Allvin have any sway, or is he just a numbers guy? Vancouver feels like a two-headed monster, but only one head eats. That type of situation is confusing for a locker room.

Vegas Golden Knights

Gift: Butts in T-Mobile seats

Vegas has won just four of its last 12 home games. While attendance is still at capacity, the amount of empty seats is glaring. Tickets have been sold, but people aren’t showing up. Is that because the Golden Knights have struggled on home ice? Maybe, but T-Mobile used to be the most difficult arena in the league for visiting teams. Not anymore.

Washington Capitals

Gift: Nicklas Backstrom’s hip surgery proving successful

Earlier this year I had a conversation with someone who, very bluntly, said that the Capitals cannot replace Nicklas Backstrom. Even though Dylan Strome has filled in admirably, Backstrom’s return would be invaluable. Fingers crossed that his recovery from hip resurfacing surgery is a complete success.

Winnipeg Jets

Gift: A Norris Trophy for Josh Morrissey

Much has been made about Connor Hellebuyck and how he’s carried the Jets this season, and there’s some truth to that sentiment. But I’d argue defenseman Josh Morrissey has been just as important to Winnipeg’s success. Considering he’s almost doubled his offensive output under Rick Bowness, Morrissey’s breakout has been a big surprise. If the 2022-23 NHL season were to end tomorrow, Morrissey would get my vote for the Norris Trophy.

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