Before we get started, this is a special edition of the Wiz Biz where I salute the valiant but futile efforts of NHL teams officially eliminated from playoff contention. When a team is eliminated, they deserve a final sendoff...
- The Ottawa Senators were eliminated a while back but they deserve to be acknowledged for their fine effort. Despite being out of the big playoff race following a massive skid in January, there were a lot of positives to come out of this season. Erik Karlsson is rounding into a reliable defensemen, Craig Anderson appears to be the goalie of the future, and Chris Phillips was locked into a contract extension. Unfortunately, this ranks among the Senators' worst seasons and a lot of question marks plague the team's future, including the effectiveness of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Sergei Gonchar. It appears as though it's time for this team to rebuild around its core stars.
- The Florida Panthers were eliminated over the weekend, marking the 10th consecutive season they have missed the playoffs. To say the team needs a major overhaul is an understatement. Luckily, forwards Stephen Weiss and David Booth will be a good start. However, losing Tomas Vokoun to free agency is a big blow to the team's future. As the team continues to struggle with attendance as well as on the ice, there needs to be an overhaul of the franchise in every aspect.
- The New York Islanders have struggled for the past few seasons to maintain a competitive edge in their edition. John Tavares is going to be the face of the franchise for years to come, but there are a number of young scorers who put up impressive numbers: Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, Blake Comeau, and Tavares all picked up 20 or more goals this season. Scoring won't be a problem in the future...but goaltending may be. After going through Rick DiPietro, Dwayne Roloson, Al Montoya, Kevin Poulin, Nathan Lawson, and Mikko Koskinen, the Islanders have just about exhuasted their goaltending resource with no clear cut number one. It's likely they will begin next season with DiPietro, Poulin, and Montoya on the depth chart. Not the best tandem in the league given DiPietro's continuous injuries, but they can be hopeful the American goaltender will finally emerge as the legitimate starter they thought he was when they signed him to that huge contract.
- Rest in Peace, Edmonton Oilers. I've already covered my disdain for the Oilers in a previous Wiz Biz but I'll rant yet again on why this team stunk this year. Full marks to the young players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Andrew Cogliano, and Sam Ganger. No one expected these kids to do a damn thing this year. And they didn't. But they would have done more than nothing if it wasn't for the bad season Nikolai Khabibulin. In seasons not too far out of memory, the Bulin wall was a terrifying opponent who stifled some of the league's most potent offenses. This season, he's been nowhere near his old self. To an extent it seems like he gets out of bed just to collect that fat paycheck, but I'm sure the competitor inside of him expected Edmonton not to be devoting so much time toward rebuilding. Ah well.
- Colorado. The Avalanche. Buried by the weight of having to match the results of last season, where Craig Anderson strapped the team to his back and marched up the standings to get the team into the postseason. This year, Anderson was off his game and a combination of untimely injuries and just piss poor play sent the Avalanche back into the basement. This is a team that needs to make some big moves to secure what they just gave away for peanuts: goaltending. Is it time to shop John Michael Liles? Perhaps a coaching change? A front office shake down? It could be all three. Having a lottery pick will help.