The Stanley Cup final is an interesting time, and more so this year. Unless you are loyal to the two teams involved, most of the league and it's fans, about 94% of the league, are focused on what is to come as soon as it is all over.
I say more so this year because the off-season seems to be such a foreign process, with flat salary caps, reduced budgets, and complete uncertainty over the economics of the entire industry for the next number of years. It is scary as it is fascinating.
Here's some Pucks On The 'Net:
Let's start with my favorite team, the Canucks. What the team does with MVP Jacob Markstrom is perhaps the most captivating story line of all. There are no easy decisions especially when whatever choice is made will have repercussions for the franchise for years to come. At this time it sounds like negotiations are not going well. The Canucks apparently are not putting a no-movement clause on the table, and want a shorter term deal. Markstrom must know he could get more money elsewhere.
I think the Canucks have to approach all off-season decisions with two or three years down the road as the focal point. If you look down that road, you see three clear points that must happen for the Canucks to contend:
- The Canucks need to greatly improve the back end, likely needing to add two or preferably three strong defensemen.
- Upcoming rookies Nils Hoglander and Vasili Podkolzin absolutely have to make an impact to fill out the roster. That's not likely for two more seasons, but if the can contribute while on their cost-effective Entry Level Contracts, that will be a real key.
- They have to continue to get great goaltending.