There are three different stages every NHL team goes through at one time or another. Either they team are contending for the cup, they are somewhere in the middle or they are rebuilding for the future. If a team is rebuilding, they will be trading for picks and prospects and scouting the draft. If a team is contending, they are making trades or signing a player to fill a need. Teams in the middle vary, as they can be in the process of going in one or the other direction.
Rebuilding is a hard process for the general manager, as they have to do the complete opposite of what the ultimate goal is, winning a Stanley Cup. Getting rid of talent in hopes of gathering more prospects is part of the processes, and unless you get lucky and find an Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid, teams can go years being stuck in this stage for quite a while. The following five teams, in my opinion, currently hold the title for being the worst rebuilding teams in the NHL.
[the_ad id=”693″]In 2009, the Colorado Avalanche selected Matt Duchene with the 3rd overall pick. They selected Gabriel Landeskog with the 2nd overall pick in 2011 and in the 2013 draft, they drafted Nathan McKinnon 1st overall. A couple years later, the Colorado Avalanche had the worst record in the NHL in the post-lockout era. Although, Duchene, Landeskog, and McKinnon have shown flashes of greatness. They haven’t been able to get wins. A lot of that has to do with management. The coach Patrick Roy quit on his team 2 weeks before the season. Another former great Avalanche, GM Joe Sakic hasn’t been able to fix the Avs real problems, defence, and goaltending. They can’t even win the lottery this season and will be selecting 4th in a below average draft. If you ask me, it’s going to be while before they can dig their way out from this Avalanche team.
It feels like the Sabres have been in rebuilding mode forever. It is unfortunate that they lost out on the Aaron Ekblad, the Conor McDavid and the Auston Matthews sweepstakes when they were tanking. Of course, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Alex Nylander are good consolation prizes but they should have been better than the last place in their division. No one was expecting the Sabres to make the playoffs this season but they should have made progress. Key injuries to Eichel, Okposo, and O’Reilly ultimately did them in. But they aren’t at the same level that the Panthers, Oilers, and Maple Leafs are. The bright side is they should have a healthy team next season and maybe the new GM Jason Botterill and new coach can make a change. But for now, they are one of the bottom-dwelling teams yet again.
Detroit Red Wings
This is a little unfair, considering the Red Wings missed the playoffs for the first time in 25 years and just started rebuilding. However, it’s been a long time coming for Detroit. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg kept the Red Wings in contention for a couple of years. Now that Datsyuk has retired and Zetterberg isn’t what he used to be, the Red Wings don’t have a star on their team. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, and Anthony Mantha have shown promise the last two seasons. but they all didn’t get more than 50 points this season. Zetterberg can’t singlehandedly get this team in the playoffs. Let alone the defense and goaltending, that was an even bigger problem. After 25 years of being the playoffs, it might be good for Detroit to be in rebuilding mode for a couple of years, but overall, it appears there was no plan set in motion when the wheels were coming off. The team didn’t seem prepared for when this day came and because of that, they’ll have an uphill battle to get back to their winning ways.
New Jersey Devils
[the_ad id=”384″]Yes, I know the Devils just won the draft lottery and I know that Ilya Kovalchuk might return, and they have Taylor Hall and Corey Schneider, two of the best at their position. However, the Devils have sneakily been one of the worst rebuilding teams currently. Schneider, while being very good, has hindered New Jersey from truly tanking. It did eventually result in them winning the lottery, however, they won it in the wrong year. Nico Hirscher or Nolan Patrick are projected to be very good centers and will be a good compliment to the 2015 6th overall pick, Pavel Zacha. But they won’t be able to change the franchise in a season like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews has. Let alone, whoever they draft won’t help the Devils’ biggest need, which is defense. New Jersey isn’t exactly young. Next season, there will likely be three players who will be under 23 years old: Their 1st overall pick, Pavel Zacha, and Damon Severson. Everyone else on the team is nearing 30 years old or over.
The Canucks finally made trades for the future during the trade deadline, with the acquisitions of Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen by giving up veterans Alexandre Burrows and Jannik Hansen. However, this is still a team that has the aging Sedin twins for two more years and 31-year-old Loui Eriksson for 5 more years. Bo Horvat looks good and is a player the Canucks should and can build around but they don’t have a lot else in the farm. The Canucks should have done more to rebuild a couple of seasons ago when they traded 3 goaltenders within 3 years. With Thatcher Demko in their system, Vancouver is better off than the teams mentioned above but there need to be more moves that GM Jim Benning needs to do to completely blow up this team to get younger.