The calendar has officially turned over to December, so that means we have entered the holiday season. To celebrate, I’ll be taking this week’s NHL Pacific Division notebook to give each team in the division a special gift to help get them through the rest of the season.
We’ll go team by team and try to give them a gift that best fits their current situation. Some of you are getting better gifts than others, but no complaining because I put equal thought into all of you and it is the thought that counts, right?
Los Angeles Kings:
This holiday season, I’d like to gift the Kings with Evander Kane. With Jeff Carter on the shelf, the Kings are still finding ways to win but they absolutely need help scoring wise. LA needs that one guy that can roll with Anze Kopitar and put the puck in the net on a consistent basis. Kane, for all of his troubles, can do just that. Evander has 12-12-24 in 27 contests this season and looks motivated in a big contract year for him.
His style and ability to score would be a picture perfect fit for the LA Kings.
Vegas Golden Knights:
We’re giving the Golden Knights a gift that will give them their favorite toy back this holiday season. I’m gifting Vegas with good health, which will allow them to being Marc-Andre Fleury back into the mix. I, like many of you, am very interested to see what this club can do with their starting goaltender in the lineup. They’ve played well without him, and one wonders what kind of damage they could do with him in the lineup.
Luckily, we are giving the Knights exactly that chance.
San Jose Sharks:
The Sharks have broken out of a tough start to find themselves firmly in the playoff chase as we hit December. What one thing could push them even further up the standings? Brent Burns’ mojo, and that is what I am gifting them this holiday season. Last season’s Norris Trophy winner has been off to a slow start this year, but one imagines he will get going at some point.
When Burns gets back to his dominating self, the Sharks could easily overtake the Golden Knights and Kings for top spots in the Pacific Division. Burns has that kind of impact and can make this San Jose team look that much better.
Unfortunately, the Canucks lost heart and soul forward Derek Dorsett this past week to injury. Dorsett’s career is sadly over, and that leaves a big hole in Vancouver’s lineup. Not only was Dorsett playing great hockey, but he is also a heart-and-soul kind of guy. This holiday season, I’m gifting the Canucks someone that can help fill that hole as this young team tries and push for a playoff spot.
As Arizona falls out of the race, I’m sending Brad Richardson to the Canucks to help fill the new void. Richardson is a solid veteran who is well respected in the room and who can play that tough style that Dorsett did. I think for a young team like Vancouver it is super important to have guys like that in the lineup. Richardson would be a nice stop-gap.
This one is easy, I’m gifting them with the Travis Hamonic they thought they were getting from the New York Islanders. Hamonic has struggled through the first two months with his new team, and Calgary’s defense hasn’t been as good as many expected as a result. Hamonic had a tough year last year as well, so we are gifting the Flames with the 2015-16 version of this player.
The Flames have been up-and-down all season long, and will need their defense to tighten up if they want to make the playoffs. Getting the right Hamonic would go a long way in that regard.
A mulligan on the naked Ryan Kesler Happy Birthday video to the NHL.
In all seriousness, I’m taking Vegas’ gift and extending it in a big way here. I’m gifting the Ducks a clean bill (haha) of health here. This team is sans Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, Cam Fowler and more. They aren’t a playoff team right now, but one suspects that is going to change shortly after this guys get back into the lineup. There really isn’t anything that the Ducks need more right now than clean health, it is the one thing holding them back.
It’s a short-term gift, but I’m sure the Edmonton Oilers would enjoy Calvin Pickard this holiday season. Cam Talbot is out at least two weeks, but reports are saying he will likely be gone past Christmas. Laurent Brossoit, the team’s backup, has been simply horrid this season and nearly surrendered a five-goal lead all on his own Saturday night in the third period.
Edmonton desperately needs a stop-gap starter, and Pickard can be that guy. He was decent behind a horrible Colorado team a year ago and likely would be a big upgrade on Brossoit. Pickard could also then be Edmonton’s backup once Talbot returns to the lineup.
The common sense to not trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson, plain and simple. Arizona had a nightmare start, but the Coyotes are playing much better hockey as of late and their young forwards are starting to find the range. If this organization stays patient, adds the right guys and keeps the core together, they could be a major sleeper next season.
Trading Ekman-Larsson would set this group back in a major way. This holiday season, I’m giving them the common sense to keep this stud defender. It’s not a sexy gift, but you’ll thank me later.
Enjoy the start of the holiday season everyone!