With the NHL regular season close to half over, let’s dive into all seven Canadian teams and see what they hope to accomplish in 2023.
There are few similarities between these seven franchises, but each looks to build sustainable success for the future.
Below, let’s address some of their needs and what they might hope to accomplish ahead of the trade deadline.
It hasn’t been an inspiring three months for the Calgary Flames, but they remain in a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Recent trends have the Flames playing better defensively and in the net, a substantial positive for how the team is built. However, the offense still needs addressing, so don’t be surprised if they add more scoring depth ahead of the trade deadline. With their offseason changes, it’s understandable that there are some issues with this team. Still, they’ll need to continue playing a solid defensive style into the new year if they want to have postseason success.
After going out and signing Jack Campbell in free agency, many thought the Edmonton Oilers’ struggles in goal would be over. That hasn’t been the case, and the team has issues on the backend. When healthy, the Oilers can score with anyone, but that’s been a concern. There’s a need for more scoring depth, but the obvious place they need to upgrade is on defense, where a top-pairing minute-eating defenseman should be on their shopping list. There are not many available, but one that stands out is Jacob Chychrun in Arizona. Chychrun is known to be available but comes with a high price. His addition would go a long way in helping Edmonton emerge as a potential favorite in the West.
After bottoming out last season, the Montreal Canadiens didn’t have high expectations this year, which is beginning to show early in 2023. The Canadiens have struggled to score goals and keep them out of their net with a highly inexperienced defensive core. Kent Hughes and the Habs management team will be looking to add more draft picks and prospects to their organization as they set up the NHL’s most storied franchise for future success. Look for some veterans to be traded ahead of the deadline, such as Sean Monahan and Joel Edmundson. A third first-round pick in a deep 2023 draft would be a luxury for the Habs.
After a busy offseason, the Ottawa Senators hoped to be in a much different position than where they currently stand. That hasn’t been the case, which makes it interesting to follow what their management team will try moving forward in 2023. It doesn’t send a positive message to their young core if they try and sell off potential assets, but the group hasn’t given them any reason to buy, especially when you consider how deep of a hole they’ve dug. Is it possible that they look to add a young piece on defense? That’s about as realistic an option you could find if you’re Pierre Dorion, but they are also tricky to acquire.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s a Stanley Cup or bust season again for Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite injury concerns on the backend, the team has continued to dominate in the regular season. Still, they may look to upgrade with a top-six winger instead of a top-pairing defenseman. What’s clear is that no matter what you think of their prior postseason failures, the Maple Leafs are well-equipped to make a deep playoff run, but more scoring up front would help take some of the load off the team’s star players, especially when games get tighter in April and May.
For a team that expected to be competitive, the Vancouver Canucks have been a disappointment. They finished last year with a solid run to close the season, and many thought that would carry over. Canucks captain Bo Horvat will likely be one of the most prized names available leading up to the trade deadline, and Vancouver can expect a haul in return if they can’t get him signed. It wasn’t supposed to be a year to sell for the Canucks, but that appears to be what it is.
The Winnipeg Jets are one of the most surprising stories in 2022-23. They sit in the second spot in the Central Division and have been doing so on the back of great goaltending and much-improved defensive play. With health concerns surrounding Nikolaj Ehlers for most of the first three months, it’s clear that this team could use more skill in their forward core. Don’t be surprised if the Jets are active ahead of the trade deadline, even if they just remain in the market for some depth scoring.
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