It’s Dan Mount and I’m hoping everyone is having a good holiday season. Sorry about the lack of a Friday column as I’ve dealing with personal stuff and the ice storm in Upstate New York. I’ll have my normal Friday column up this week.
If you want to reach me, comment below or follow me on Twitter @DanMountSports. Today’s column focuses on what each NHL team would like for Christmas.
Anaheim Ducks: Another year out of Teemu Selanne. (OK, this is for me.) He’s been a great player for so long and he’s an even better person. He’s ageless and could probably go on another couple of years. However, he wants to leave the game at a high level and not the shell of a guy that’s hung on for too long. They’d actually probably still need a more physical player like Emerson Etem to come back.
Boston Bruins: Secondary scoring. Sure, the star players are humming along just fine, but they need guys to get some help from guys like Milan Lucic. There have been a rash of injuries to Loui Ericksson, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille, but the third and fourth liners need to step it up.
Buffalo Sabres: To get something for Ryan Miller. We know that there has been some turnover in the front office since the beginning of the season. They did manage to get something when they shipped Thomas Vanek to the Islanders, but need to get something for Miller if they deal him at the deadline.
Calgary Flames: To make the right choice at general manager. Brian Burke is holding the position on an interim basis, but he’ll have a hand in deciding in who takes over for the recently fired Jay Feaster. He says there’s a shortlist of three to six people. The next guy has to find a way to get the Flames out of the doldrums.
Carolina Hurricanes: Settle on a number one goalie. Yes, Cam Ward has won the franchise a Stanley Cup. However, he’s been injured and Justin Peters has. However, the Canes have a future number one in Anton Khudobin. Peters has some trade value and Khudobin is a young goalie.
Chicago Blackhawks: For Corey Crawford to get healthy. Crawford hasn’t lit the world on fire like he did in the playoffs, but he did lead the league in wins before he got injured. Anti Raanta has been a great in between the pipes, but I feel Crawford is a better goalie than people give him credit for.
Colorado Avalanche: Another defenseman. The blueliners have been chipping in on the offensive end, but they’d love a little more depth. The Avs have been looking into Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers as a possible solution.
Columbus Blue Jackets: To get healthy. The team did challenge for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference, but that was with a healthy Vezina Trophy-winning Sergei Bobrovsky in net. He’s been injured and the Jackets are just trying to stay above war. Nathan Horton’s return will be a big help, but he needs time.
Dallas Stars: Improved special teams play. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have done a fine job clicking in their first season together. However, that’s being ruined by their ineffective power play and penalty kill. However, the rebuild is coming along faster than I anticipated.
Detroit Red Wings: Win at home. The defense is also pretty young and Jimmy Howard has been out for a good chunk of the season. However, the Joe Louis Arena used to be a fortress. The Wings need some home cooking to get back into the race.
Edmonton Oilers: To settle this Eakins vs. Yakupov feud. It may have gotten a little better. (Eakins said he won’t trade the struggling top pick.) There’s no denying that it’s been a rough beginning of their working relationship with the benchings and reduced playing time. A goalie and some defense would be nice as well.
Florida Panthers: A game plan on how to get better. The team did fire coach Kevin Dineen, but there doesn’t seem to be a true plan for this team. It would be nice for them to get some fans to show up.
Los Angeles Kings: To keep Jonathan Quick fresh. Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens have helped the Kings keep pace with the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks. They’ll be the strong urge to try and get the most out of Quick, but the play of the two backups allows their star goalie to take his time.
Minnesota Wild: A few road wins. The team has been fantastic at home, but they are 6-10-3 away from the XCel Energy Center this season. If a team wants to go far, they need to win on the road.
Montreal Canadiens: Stop taking so many penalties. The Habs have been solid on the penalty kill, but really need to tighten it up. It’s going to catch up to Carey Price and company eventually.
Nashville Predators: The continued development of Seth Jones. He’s handled shifting from right to left defense easily in his rookie year. He’s been great on both ends of the ice. He’s making a run for a spot on Team USA at the Sochi Olympics.
New Jersey Devils: Better defensive zone clearing. This team is playing above my expectations, but need to clear the zone better. Too many goals have come off of these mistakes.
New York Islanders: Goaltending. Evgeni Nabakov played out of his mind last year to get the Isles into the playoffs. However, he’s been injured and not played well even when he’s been in the nets. Kevin Poulin hasn’t been the answer, either. Garth Snow may need to make a move.
New York Rangers: Consistency. The Blueshirts have played great teams like the Penguins, Kings and Bruins tough, but they’ve laid some eggs against the dregs of the league. They need to find some steady play on offense.
Ottawa Senators: A little bit of luck. The team just hasn’t gotten the bounces that it got last year. They wasted a good opportunity to build up some points before a long road trip. It could be an uphill climb.
Philadelphia Flyers: To get out of neutral. The Flyers played well for a while after Craig Berube took over, but they’ve gotten stuck in neutral. They need to get back to piling up some points to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Phoenix Coyotes: Better attendance. The ownership question has been settled and the team is a pretty good one. However, the fans still aren't showing up. Remember, if the owners lose $50 million in five years, they could be moved.
Pittsburgh Penguins: A healthy defense. The Penguins have gotten off to a good start thanks to their improved defensive play under Jacques Martin. However, the team’s D is wounded from its injuries.
San Jose Sharks: Martin Havlat to pick up. He used to be a staple on the Sharks scoresheet, but he’s really fallen off. He’s been demoted to the fourth line and is fighting for ice time.
St. Louis Blues: Fans to show up. See Phoenix Coyotes reason and this.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos to return. The Lightning are actually over .500 without him, but they'd love to get him back. They were 12-4-0 before the injury and he gives the team offense that they need.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Patience. I know there is some intense pressure to win in Toronto. (Especially when you’re struggling.) However, the Leafs have some good young skaters. A panic trade would do nothing according to some people.
Vancouver Canucks: Healthier defensemen. The Canucks hadn’t gotten a major injury on defense, but that all changed earlier in the month. Head coach John Totorella said the team won't whine about it's injuries, but it has to hurt their chances in the cutthroat West.
Washington Capitals: Support for Alex Ovechkin. Ovie has been scoring tons of goals and so have his linemates. However, he needs some help.
Winnipeg Jets: Wins at home. See the Red Wings answer.
Since there are no games after tonight, I’ll get to the fun part of the program with the First star, Worst star and Who blew up the Death Star?
Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson finishes off this excellent feed from Matt Duchene.
How did Washington’s Tom Wilson not get suspended for this shot on Philly’s Brayden Schenn?
Who blew up the Death Star?
The Alaska aces of the ECHL celebrate “Hawaii Night” with these loud sweaters. Book ‘em Dano.
Hope you enjoyed this column. Take care and have a Merry Christmas.
Dan Mount is an NHL writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY.