NHL News

Which Teams Are Closest to Contending?

Jarmo Kekalainen Columbus Blue Jackets

The NHL trade deadline is in the rearview mirror and a lot of the teams are entering the home stretch of the 2022-23 season, looking to secure playoff spots and set themselves up for a Stanley Cup run. This is also the time of the year when the rebuilding teams have set themselves apart and have made it clear that they aren’t going to compete this season.

Related: Blue Jackets’ Brad Larsen Needs to Embrace Rebuild

“Rebuilding” and “retooling” are terms that are thrown around a lot in sports, especially the NHL. A lot of teams will say that they are doing one of the two when they aren’t competitive but how many of them have a plan in place? Moreover, which ones are on schedule or have the pieces to make them competitive soon? The eight teams that can be classified as rebuilding are the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Vancouver Canucks. Looking at these through five primary categories, the teams that are in the best shape to rebound are the Blue Jackets and the Canadiens.

Jarmo Kekäläinen, Columbus Blue Jackets, 2015 NHL Draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Below is a chart that looks at the rebuilding teams and their building blocks, specifically, their prospect pool, draft capital, head coaches and general managers (GM), and players that will be an integral part of their rebound. The answers were provided by the team writers at THW.

Core Players / Building Block Players Prospect Pool Ranking (according to THW) Projected First Round Draft Picks (in the next three entry drafts) Projected 2nd & 3rd Round Draft Picks (in the next three entry drafts) The Right Head Coach & GM in place
Columbus Blue Jackets 5 6th 4 8 Yes
Montreal Canadiens 5 12th 5 6 Yes
Arizona Coyotes 3 8th 4 18 Yes
Anaheim Ducks 4 3rd 3 12 No
Vancouver Canucks 4 30th 3 5 Yes
Chicago Blackhawks 1 10th 6 13 Yes
Philadelphia Flyers 2 24th 4 5 No
San Jose Sharks 0 17th 4 6 Yes

Taking a deep dive into these teams, it’s clear why some are off to better starts in their rebuilds. With a lot of the focus shifting to the contenders at this point in the season, it’s important to take a look at the rebuilding teams. How did they get to this point, what do they have to build on, and where will they go from here?

San Jose Sharks – 8

The 2019 Western Conference Final was the end of an era for the Sharks. They were a perennial playoff team during the decade and reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 but the last run was in the…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Hockey Writers…