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One Potential Move For Each Canadian NHL Team

Updated: Jul 7, 2023

It has been a while since Lord Stanley came back to Canada. The 1993 Montreal Canadians were the last Canadian Stanley Cup Champions. Since 1993 there have been six Canadian teams to make it to the Stanley Cup Final, but all, unfortunately, ended in defeat. Canada isn't shy of franchise players with players like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Elias Pettersson and Brady Tkachuk. Here are some potential moves each Canadian team should make to get one step closer to contending for a Stanley Cup championship.

Calgary Flames

The Flames have been put in an unfortunate situation this offseason with Hanifin, Backlund, Toffoli and potentially Lindholm not wanting to renew their contracts with the team. After they lost two franchise players last offseason, surely they won't want a repeat of that. Their main focus should be to get ahead of their losses and move the players that don't want to be there anymore.

Conroy is already off to a hot start at that with the trade of Tyler Toffoli. He needs to continue mitigating more of his losses and acquire young assets to help this inevitable re-tool they see themselves in. It's best to trade the players this offseason while their values are at their highest. Teams are more inclined to pay up given the full season of services the player will offer at a minimum. Executing this as soon as possible will help the Flames gain valuable assets that can hopefully turn the team around sooner rather than later.

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton had a very successful season, finishing two points out of a Western Conference title. They gave the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights their toughest matchup this playoffs. The Oilers have the best and, debatable second-best players in the entire league. They've surrounded both these players with admirable wingers to help keep their production at an elite level. Mattias Ekholm was my favourite acquisition at this year's trade deadline, with how he performed on a pairing with Evan Bouchard.

The Oilers this offseason must move out money to make room to lock up Evan Bouchard long-term. He was able to step up his game after the Ekholm trade by allowing his offensive game to flourish. Bouchard had points in ten of the Oilers' 12 playoff games, totalling 17 points. The extra 3.1 million dollar cap hit they received from moving on from Yamamoto's contract will help lock up Bouchard. The Oilers were able to replace Yamamoto in free agency with the phenomenal Connor Brown, heavily-weighted incentivized contract. Brown reunites with former linemates in Hyman (Toronto) and McDavid (Erie).

Montreal Canadiens

Montreal is doing a great job at rebuilding. They have their centre-and-winger partnership for the future and some outstanding prospects in the pipeline. Both their stars have signed team-friendly deals, given the expected cap increase next season. The Canadiens have the next up-in-coming offensive star on the backend in Lane Hutson. The future is bright in Montreal with GM Kent Hughes sticking to his vision, acquiring similarly aged players that fit the team's core. Although the team is in the midst of a rebuild, they still face some difficult roads ahead.

Montreal is currently $600,000 over the salary cap for this upcoming season, with newly acquired Alex Newhook needing an extension. Bringing in Newhook allows the Canadiens to move on from Christian Dvorak, with these two playing similar roles. Dvorak was a failed project in Montreal, never playing up to the 4.45 million dollar contract he signed back in Arizona. It won't come easy for Hughes to accomplish this as Dvorak's modified no-trade clause kicked in on July 1st. Montreal will likely see him given away as a free asset for relief in cap space to make room for their new shiny toy.

Ottawa Senators

Ottawa has had to deal with a lot of public drama with the recent sale of their team. The most public sale in sports history is finally over, with the team ready to move forward. The Senators had a very up-and-down season this year. They saw former third-overall pick Tim Stutzle flourish into a bonified first-line centre. The Senators acquired a cost-controlled, elite defenceman in Jakob Chychrun. It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows in Ottawa; The other new assets haven't enjoyed their time nation's capital as much as Chychrun.

Former Minnesota Wild Cam Talbot was brought in to be the goalie of the future and struggled with a sub .900 save percentage and only started in 36 games. Current RFA sniper Alex DeBrincat informed the team he would like to sign elsewhere after only one season in Ottawa. With Talbot already lost in free agency, Dorion quickly filled that void by locking up Korpisalo long-term, forming a nice one-two punch with rising star Anton Forsberg. DeBrincat seems like the biggest hurdle to climb as he holds the leverage in where he wants to sign long-term. A potential suitor would be the Red Wings. Detroit has one of the deep prospect pools to recoup Ottawa's lost assets, while the Michigan native would be happy to go home and sign long-term.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto had another great regular season and finally broke the curse and advanced passed the first round. Their success ended there as they ran into the hottest goalie of the playoffs, even though they outmatched their opponent on paper. I thought this was potentially the Leafs year to make some noise with their impressive deadline acquisitions, but now the majority walk to the open market. The Leafs have done an admirable job of replacing said players bringing in the likes of Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi and John Klingberg on short, cheap deals. So what's the Maple Leafs biggest problem to deal with this offseason?

Auston Matthews and William Nylander and extending them must be on the top of new GM Treliving's to-do list. It sounds that Matthews will likely re-sign, but Nylander may be the issue for Toronto. Per Chris Johnston, Nylander was the only one of the "core four" that wasn't paid as a top player, and given how he is the only one that performs in the playoffs, he deserves it.

I hate to say it Leafs fans, but your captain is the reason you won't be able to retain Nylander. With how the Leafs are all in with their current core, it's best to make a hockey trade and find a replacement, as they can't afford to lose him for nothing next year. Maybe Nylander for Reinhart plus? Who says no?

Vancouver Canucks

Yet another disappointing season for Canucks fans, filled with league-wide drama and an unsuccessful team. Alvin has his work cut out for him, fixing all of Benning's old mistakes. The team has stars, but with overpaid depth pieces, it's near impossible to build a contending team. Buying out Ekman-Larsson was a painful but correct decision as it burns the salary cap for eight more seasons, but with the cap set to rise, it won't hurt as much. While it was valuable to let him go, his roster position still needs to be filled.

Fixing the backend is the only way the Canucks are going to be able to compete for a wild card spot this year. They've started on the right foot by adding Soucy and Cole, two cost-controlled defensive defensemen. While these signings fit team needs, another top four defencemen push them closer to the playoffs. The Canucks have been dangling skilled wingers in the trade market that would make a perfect one-for-one swap. With the confusing moves from Columbus, turning them into a potential competitor, would a Garland for Peeke interest the Canucks? Send a sniper in Boeser to a sniper-less Hurricanes for disgruntled Pesce?

Winnipeg Jets

Oh boy, what a confusing year for the Jets. A decently successful season, with a short-lived playoff appearance that ended with a disgruntled locker room. The worst-kept secret in the hockey world of Dubois wanting out is finally dealt with, but not where we thought. Because the Kings came in with a surprising offer, the Jets were able to regain the leverage and finalize a winning deal. Other players have voiced their opinions on the team and seemingly want to move on.

Hellebuyck has let the Jets know he won't be returning, and with his free agency looming, a trade for a Vezina-caliber goaltender seems imminent. There has been some smoke about New Jersey having interest, but does another contender emerge? Maybe reunite with a recently traded teammate in California? Schiefele is a big question mark. He will become a free agent next offseason, but teams have shown no interest. Should the Jets try to impress him with the latest trade and take another stab at resigning him? If that doesn't work, trading him at the deadline to a contender is the best way to mitigate losses on this depreciating asset.


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