It can be a rebuild or you can miss the playoffs by a few points, either way several teams this offseason need to make adjustments to compete in the near future. These are the teams with the most pressing needs.
Toronto Maple Leafs
You probably saw this coming from a mile away. The Leafs are in the biggest need of an overhaul out of anyone on this list. Luckily, they have the right people on the job to do it in Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter. The first step will be to hire a GM that will be able to work in concert with Dubas and Hunter, a lofty task for some front office people that are egocentric and may want to bring in their own team. The names that have been getting bandied about are Sean Burke, whose name seems to come up every offseason the past few years and Mike Futa of the Los Angeles Kings, who helped Dean Lombardi put together a Stanley Cup champion team. This should be the easy part of the rebuild, the players are a completely different story.
The overhaul really begins with the "marquee" players that the Leafs have on their team. I put marquee in quotes as these players were once valued as top flight pieces but seem to have fallen within this past year. Phil Kessel comes to mind immediately, he supposedly had a down year but was still able to give the team 61 points on the year. He will easily fetch the most in a trade but the question becomes if they believe Kessel is a part of the future with the Leafs and help with a quick turn around. President of Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan has stated on multiple occasions that this is going to be a long-term build which leads me to believe that this team is going to get torn down from the top and will be filled with a strong prospect pipeline.
So, sorry Leafs fans you may have already seen the last of Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul and young Tyler Bozak. This team will look completely different come Fall.
This isn't really an overhaul of players but more of an overhaul of culture that should be taking place in the Bruins' front office. Their prioritization of grit and truculence may end up being the downfall of this team. Being cash strapped for the past couple of years, they have given contracts to players that haven't deserved them and they have held onto assets that were way past their prime. The first move they made in a possible overhaul of the team was the firing of Peter Chiarelli, many in the mainstream media pointed to it as a chance to change their culture.
Alas, that doesn't seem to be the case as Cam Neely, Bruins President spoke about the need to enhance the Bruins culture and get back to what they are all about. A bigger mistake couldn't be made by this organization if they decide to go back to that. They have some players coming off the books such as Gregory Campbell and Dan Paille that will allow them to reevaluate that identity but it will be all for not if they don't take advantage of this opportunity. The Bruins don't have to miss the playoffs next year but if they stay the course they may end up grabbing onto a sinking ship.
New Jersey Devils
I had some trouble picking the final team to put on this list as I juggled with a couple of teams. The Flyers and Sharks immediately came to mind but much like the Bruins, they need to change their culture approach whether it be the over payment of defensemen in the Flyers' case or the increased importance of the goon in the Sharks' case, the team that overwhelmingly needed an overhaul more than those teams is the New Jersey Devils.
GM Lou Lamoriello has led this team to multiple Stanley Cups in the past 20 or so years but now they find themselves at the crossroads. They need to make changes but the mediocre core makes it a tough proposition for the New Jersey Devils. Their prospect pipeline is weak and needs to be restocked ASAP. The problem with this is the only players that draw any value are on the youngish side (Travis Zajac is 29 and Adam Henrique is 24) and may need to be held onto if they want to compete anytime soon. They will be getting roughly $10+ million dollars off the cap this offseason so you may see them as a possible player in free agency. The middling results have to be maddening for Devils fans but if they embrace the tank, this rebuild may not take as long. They have a strong goaltender in Corey Schneider to build around.
God speed Devils fans.
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