Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The 2018 offseason pressure index

We’re several days into the off-season, and so far it’s been a slow start. That’s to be expected. After all, we’re 10 days away from the draft, which is when business tends to pick up. We’re still waiting on a final number for next year’s salary cap, which is important. Also, and we’re not naming any names here, certain teams are still drunk right now.

So as we wait for the action to start, let’s figure out which teams are facing the toughest decisions as we head into the off-season. Everybody has a lot on their to-do list at this time of year, and some GMs will need a strong showing over the next few weeks to ensure they still have a job this time next year. But some teams are facing more pressure than others, so let’s count down 10 that will be under a spotlight over the coming days.

10. Calgary Flames

Already done: They changed coaches, clearing out Glen Gulutzan to make room for former Hurricanes’ boss Bill Peters. The bench will also feature two new assistants, including Geoff Ward, who’ll be tasked with fixing the anemic power play. And the team parted ways with team president Brian Burke.

The job ahead: The Flames don’t need a massive overhaul. But something clearly isn’t clicking in Calgary, where a talented young roster hasn’t won a playoff game in three years. There have been rumbling that the effort level isn’t where it needs to be, which Peters will have to address. And Brad Treliving will be looking to add offence, ideally a top-line winger to slot in with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau.

GM hot-seat factor: Treliving signed an extension last year, so he’s relatively safe for now. But the team is underperforming and he’s just played his coaching card, so another underwhelming season will turn up the temperature. How high? He’d probably rather not find out.

Bottom line: Treliving will have to walk the line of worrying about right now while keeping an eye on the future; the Flames only have four picks in this year’s draft, none of which are in the first three rounds.

9. Washington Capitals

Already done: They drank the alcohol. All of it. It’s gone now; we have no more alcohol.

The job ahead: Once he’s done celebrating, Brian MacLellan is faced with the possibility of losing two of the league’s top free agents. The first is John Carlson, who’ll likely prove too rich for the Caps and land elsewhere. The second is Barry Trotz, which should be a fascinating situation to watch. MacLellan was apparently close to firing Trotz during the season, and it was only a few weeks ago that the coach himself seemed to think he was all but gone. But with a Cup win and an expiring contract, now it’s Trotz who holds the power. He’ll likely be back with a hefty raise, but there’s at least a chance he becomes the first coach since Mike Keenan to leave a Cup winner for work elsewhere. The question is how hard MacLellan wants to work to prevent that.

GM hot-seat factor: None.

Bottom line: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. MacLellan also needs to re-sign Tom Wilson and figure out what to do with Philipp Grubauer. This will be a challenging off-season in Washington, but it will be a lot more fun than the last few.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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