What Lies Ahead For Canada’s NHL Teams Next Season
Most of Canada’s 7 NHL teams are already looking ahead to next season. Only Winnipeg and Montreal remain in the playoffs. The other 5 teams are golfing and trying to be optimistic about their future. On July 21, the NHL will hold an expansion draft as the Seattle Kraken join the league. The Kraken will draft one player from each team, which means every team will have a hole to fill. Two days later, the NHL Draft will be begin on July 23 and will show the direction teams are taking to improve.
The Vancouver Canucks will pick one spot before Ottawa after a disappointing season. Vancouver did surprisingly well last year in the playoff bubble, but this season the team took a couple steps backward. Look for Vancouver to choose between RW Dylan Guenther and C Mason MacTavish, but they still have many holes to fill in their lineup.
The Ottawa Senators did miss the playoffs, but the team did better than many predicted. They have a very young group of stars developing and should be stronger next year. The team still needs help all around so they’ll likely draft the best player who is still available with the tenth overall pick. Either of Guenther or MacTavish will add more depth up front.
The Calgary Flames pick eleventh after a very disappointing season where they were predicted to be one of the strongest teams in the North Division, but they were weak all season. Calgary should blow up the team in the off season and begin a partial or full rebuild. Given the possible rebuild, they could draft anyone depending on who they ship out. Centres Kent Johnson or Cody Sillinger could make sense.
The Edmonton Oilers will likely pick nineteenth after a disappointing season but the Oilers might not make many moves in the off season, and instead bet on their young players improving along with a couple of smaller changes. Current #1 goalie Mike Smith is 39 so a young goalie makes sense, and Sebastian Cossa of the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings could be a great fit.
The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have a first round pick this year, and their third and fourth round picks are traded away as well. Last summer, the Leafs signed veterans Thornton and Simmons to bring in leadership. That leadership led them to them same golf course after the first round of the playoffs.
The Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens are still in the playoffs and could make a long run as both are playing well. The Jets should add defense while the Habs need to grab a left wing.