August 28 2012 10:09AM
Despite missing the playoffs in each of the prior two seasons, last year began with a glimmer of hope for Flames fans - the club went on to be one of the hottest teams in the league in the wake of Darryl Sutter's ouster in 2011-12. So although new GM Jay Feaster only made a few nominal changes to the line-up in the summer of 2012, the feeling was the organization would bloom now that it wasn't operating under the dour cloud of Sutter's baleful glare.
Unfortunately, the second half run in 2012 was mostly a mirage. The Flames were (and remain) a fundamentally flawed club who are good enough to compete for a playoff spot, but several steps behind the true contenders in the league. The current construction of the team also makes a real step forward in the near future unlikely; in fact, with an aging core and lackluster collection of players in or near their prime, the Flames will probably continue to trend downwards.
August 27 2012 11:08AM
Oilers select first overall at the 2011 Draft (Bri Weldon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)
The model was clear enough when the Oilers first decided they were going to make the best of a bad situation midway through 2009-10: having found themselves rather good at losing, the team would keep right on doing it, earning a bunch of top draft picks. With that nucleus of young talent, some patience, and some shrewd rebuilding, the Oilers core would be good enough when the team finally rebounded that they could contend for years.
2011-12 – judging by the statements of Oilers executives, the shift in tactics by (and end of season departure of) head coach Tom Renney – was supposed to be the start of the return to respectability. Instead, the Oilers picked first overall again. Is 2012-13 the year the team starts putting some distance between themselves and the NHL basement?
August 25 2012 10:14AM
On July 1, 2012, the Minnesota Wild were perhaps the NHL’s most anonymous club. Having played their most recent playoff game in 2008 and lacking either the ineptitude that draws jeers from the NHL community (like the Maple Leafs and Islanders), while also not having the financial issues of the Thrashers or Panthers, the Wild were content to bob along, alone and unrecognized in the NHL pond.
They were bad, but bad in an interesting way.
They had missed the playoffs the last four years, but the highest they picked in the draft is 7th. Sure, they’d make an incompetent move once in a while, either an ill-advised trade or unneeded free-agent splash, but the NHL community at large just forgot about Minnesota, all tucked away down there.
August 23 2012 04:58PM
The Sabres entered the 2012 season with high expectations. New owner Terry Pegula infused the franchise with cash which allowed management to add Christian Ehrhoff, Ville Leino, Robyn Regehr, and the contract of Ales Kotalik (he spent 2012 in the Czech Republic). The combined cap hit of the guys who stayed in the league (Ehrhoff, Leino, and Regehr) was $12.52 million.
Unfortunately, despite the injection of cash, the Sabres fell out of the playoffs.
Buffalo drank the poisonous cocktail of being soft, being terrible at faceoffs, and banking on big years from numerous guys with significantly elevated shooting percentages. Some red flags should have been obvious, but this is a team that was still too talented to end up where they did.
August 21 2012 06:53PM
By goaliej54 [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Bruins enter 2012-13 season with largely the same roster for the third year in a row. There have been some small tweaks here and there, replacing Tomas Kaberle with Joe Corvo and letting Tyler Seguin grow into Mark Recchi's minutes, but the core has largely remained intact.
With one notable exception.
How critical has Tim Thomas been to their recent success? What should we expect from the team going forwards?