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NHL Pucks Drops: Making his list and checking it twice

Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson, centre, is defended by San Jose Sharks centre Melker Karlsson, left, and defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) during the third period of a recent NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif. 
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson, centre, is defended by San Jose Sharks centre Melker Karlsson, left, and defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) during the third period of a recent NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Pundit writes out wish list for NHL teams to send Santa’s way

With Christmas fast approaching, here are some gift suggestions for several NHL teams.

Tampa Bay Lightning - Acquire a good rental defenceman and right wing by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.  Those acquisitions would bolster their depth and their chances for a Stanley Cup run in the spring.

Nashville Predators - Find a good backup goalie. Jusse Saros is struggling in that role this season. If anything happens to 35-year-old starter Pekka Rinne, the Preds' championship aspirations could be in jeopardy. 

Pittsburgh Penguins - Bring in a decent backup goaltender and a good third-line centre. Banged-up starter Matt Murray has struggled at times this season and they've yet to suitably replace departed centreman Nick Bonino. 

St. Louis Blues - Hope Vladimir Sobotka or Dmitrij Jaskin can be suitable short-term replacements for high-scoring left wing Jaden Schwartz, who's out six weeks with an ankle injury. 

Montreal Canadiens - Acquire a true first-line centre to boost their anemic offence or a return to form of goaltender Carey Price. His inconsistency this season is a key reason the Habs are outside the playoff picture.

Edmonton Oilers - Healthy returns for sidelined goalie Cam Talbot and defenceman Andrej Sekera, plus a reliable scoring right wing. Without them, the Oilers' playoff hopes are doomed. 

Ottawa Senators - Rediscover the form that carried them last spring to within an overtime goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Their current losing skid threatens to knock them completely out of the post-season race. 

Chicago Blackhawks - Improve their defence. What was once a strength for the once-mighty Blackhawks is now a weakness. They must find a way to bolster their blue-line depth beyond Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. 

Winnipeg Jets - Overdue recognition that they're a rising force in the Western Conference. Powered by forwards Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine, the high-flying Jets could be Canada's best hope of ending its 25-year Stanley Cup drought. 

Toronto Maple Leafs - An elite defenceman. They've got the offensive firepower and a good goaltender in Frederik Andersen. To become a legitimate Cup contender, however, they need a proven top-two blue-liner. 

Washington Capitals - Another 50-goal season for Alex Ovechkin. It would give Ovechkin eight, 50-goal seasons, one shy of the NHL record held by Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy. 

Los Angeles Kings - A swift return to form by forward Jeff Carter. Sidelined by a leg injury, Carter is expected back in the new year. His offensive skills will provide additional punch to their already improved scoring depth just in time for the playoffs.  

New York Islanders - A successful bid for a new arena at Belmont Park. It could help them close the deal on a new long-term contract for captain John Tavares.

Vegas Golden Knights - General manager of the year to George McPhee and the Jack Adams Award to head coach and Summeside native Gerard Gallant. Thanks to their efforts, the Golden Knights are enjoying one of the best seasons for an expansion franchise in league history. 

 

 

Lyle Richardson is a freelance writer with The Hockey News and runs the website Spector’s Hockey. His column will appear in The Guardian throughout the NHL hockey season.

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