2015-16 NHL Wish Lists for Santa: Western Conference
As the 2015-16 NHL season heads towards the halfway mark, each team could use some help getting over the hump or getting back on track.
Here is what each team in the Western Conference could use in the immediate future.
Anaheim Ducks – Scoring Depth
What a difference a year makes. Ryan Getzlaf has fallen off the face of the earth. After averaging 0.97 goals per 60 minutes in 2014-15, he is averaging 0.11 in 2015-16 (he has one goal in 28 games). No player on the team has scored double-digit goals. The players depended on to score are aging poorly, and Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are signed through at least 2021.
The three players with their heads above even in Corsi For percentage (CF%) are starting less than 30 percent of their draws in the defensive zone. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a special offensive talent, but no one expects him to carry a defensive corps on both ends of the ice.
The Calgary Flames were a playoff team last season, and while they sit one point out of a playoff spot in the pathetic Pacific Division, the team’s negative-22 goal differential shows the drop off from last season and why this team needs an overhaul. The back end needs the most work, as defensemen Kris Russell and Ladislav Smid's play have fallen off a cliff, and Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio have combined for an 88.88 save percentage. Ramo’s 90.87 save percentage is the best of the trio. Circling back to defensemen falling off, Dennis Wideman’s CF% is 49.5 despite starting 41.8 percent of the time in the offensive zone.
Duncan Keith may be a robot, and Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson are excellent defensemen, but after that, the blueline in
Erik Johnson is miscast as a number-one defenseman and is being forced to carry around the corpse of Francois Beauchemin. Add on that the pair starts over 40% of their faceoffs in their zone, and things get ugly quickly. Outside of Tyson Barrie’s upside, the Avs' blueline needs a complete overhaul.
Dallas Stars – Defensive Defenseman
To be honest,
Edmonton Oilers – Defensive Defenseman
The Oilers are showing signs of life on offense, but the blue line has little to show suppressing opposing offenses. 10 Oilers defensemen have positive Corsi For percentages playing 5-on-5, and one of them, Nikita Nikitin, has played five games. Oscar Klefbom and Justin Schultz are barely treading water, and Brandon Davidson is a positive player while being sheltered in the offensive zone (33.5% Offensive Faceoff Zone Start). Darnell Nurse has the opportunity to be a solid offensive defenseman but is getting buried in his own zone. He leads Oiler rearguards with a 5.08 shooting percentage and is sporting a 43.5 CF% at even strength, worst among the group. Nurse is starting 33.4 percent of his faceoffs in the defensive zone, tied for third highest among Oiler blueliners.
Los Angeles Kings – Supplemental Scoring
The Kings are locked in for another playoff push and can get fat on a poor Pacific Division.
Minnesota Wild – A New Division
The Wild are caught in the bloodbath that is the Central Division. It seems like each year they show signs of improvement, meet the Blackhawks in the playoffs, and disappear. They’re top-10 in goals for and against per 60 minutes, and Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper are playing well in net. At this point, the team has to find a way to make a lengthy playoff run, add a truly dynamic player, or hope for realignment.
Nashville Predators – Forward Scoring
Scoring has been the issue in
Martin Jones has been okay in his first opportunity to start full-time. His 91.54 save percentage is okay but could be better. Alex Stalock has been brutal in his usual backup role.
Vancouver Canucks – Youth
Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Radim Vrbata, Alexander Edler and Dan Hamhuis have seen their best days go by, and the rest of the team in