Rebuild. It is one of the worst things a fan can hear in regards to their team. The word transcends all sports, and it is one that requires patience when there is no timetable for its conclusion. There are plenty of different ways to rebuild a team, some faster then others, so I’ve decided to take a look at some recent rebuilding jobs in the NHL.
Recently, a few teams have gone through the rebuilding process and come out looking better than ever. Teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Los Angeles Kings have worked hard to put together the best team by getting creative with the salary cap and spending wisely on star players and utility guys. All three teams started with an outside-in approach by drafting a goalie that can shoulder the load of playing 60-plus games a season. General mangers and scouts alike have said that when it comes to NHL defenders, it takes around 300 games for them to develop into an NHL-caliber player. During this time, forwards are likely being stockpiled and developed in the American Hockey League. Most teams prefer to make this happen in the draft but that takes time, and sometimes a lot of it. In less then ten years these three teams have totaled 6 Stanley Cup victories.
Free agency is another option to rebuild a team. Teams like the Dallas Stars have used trades and the free agent market to fill holes. The Stars were a good team a few seasons ago, but with the additions of Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Patrick Sharp have boosted them from being just another team in the playoff hunt to the second-best team in the West at the time of this writing. Trades and free agency work best when a team does not have many holes to fill; they often have a surplus of one position that can be used as trade bait to fill one of their few needs.
Then there are teams like the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Somehow, the Oilers have had four first-overall picks in the draft since 2010. All four picks have been forwards, while adding Cam Talbot in net and seemingly neglecting their defense. It appears that the Oilers were looking to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins before he got injured, as it was reported they tried to make a move with the Nashville Predators for Seth Jones before they went with Ryan Johansen. The Calgary Flames have not had a reliable goaltender since Miikka Kiprusoff, who the team relied heavily on to win games. The Flames have been putting pieces together through the draft with forwards like Sam Bennett, Johnny Gaudreau, and Sean Monahan. When it comes to their blue-liners, there have been a mix of free agent signings (Mark Giordano and Deryk Engellend) and draft picks (T.J. Brodie), but have made trades for their other current defensemen (Dougie Hamilton, Ladislav Smid, Kris Russell, and Dennis Wideman). However, goaltending has often been a sore spot for them since Kiprusoff retired.
No matter how you slice it, there isn’t a single fan who wants to hear the possibility of their team rebuilding. In Edmonton’s case, four number-one overall picks have not helped the team reach the playoffs yet. On the flip side to that coin, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was quick to call the Chicago Blackhawks a dynasty after their most recent Stanley Cup championship. If a rebuild meant you were guaranteed multiple Stanley Cups, fans wouldn’t be worried if their team decided to tear everything down and start from scratch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Just ask any Oilers fan. Follow Stephen on Twitter
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