Friday, June 17, 2016

What to Watch For in the 2016-2017 NHL Offseason

            With the Stanley Cup Finals wrapped up, the NHL season has come to a close (at least until October). Don't fret, though. There are plenty of storylines going into the offseason. Here are some to keep an eye on.

  1. What happens to Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop? The big headline heading into the NHL offseason is what the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing with their star goalies. Both teams saw the emergence of younger goalies during the playoffs. Tampa Bay should have plenty of cap space and could clear up more if they want. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, doesn't have as much. Fleury is rumored to be a target of the Calgary Flames and Bishop suits a team like Dallas well. Both are in their primes and will benefit a team nicely. 
  2. Where does Steven Stamkos go? Stamkos is easily the biggest free agent target this season. The Lightning captain will fetch a fairly hefty price. Even in an injury-shortened season, he managed 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) in 2015-2016. Will he return to his hometown of Toronto and play for the Maple Leafs? Will Steve Yzerman do enough to keep Stamkos? These are a few of the questions surrounding Stamkos this offseason.
  3. Where will the next expansion team go? With Las Vegas finally getting a team, the NHL is left with a 31-team league. The Eastern Conference still has one more team than the West, so future expansion (or contraction) will be needed. Some possible suitors for the 16th team in the Western Conference include Seattle (they need to figure out their arena situation), Houston (would be a good rival for the Dallas Stars), and Kansas City (they have an arena, just need an owner). If you're asking about Quebec City, they're out of the question. They would leave the NHL imbalanced again and the Canadian Dollar isn't very strong right now. Therefore, Quebec City is better suited for relocation (here's looking at you, Carolina). 

Credit to @EPoole88 on Twitter

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