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Canadian Thanksgiving: 30 teams, 30 reasons to give thanks

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today, so in honour of that, here’s a look at what each team can be thankful for from the off-season.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today, so in honour of that, here’s a look at what each team can be thankful for from the off-season.

1. Anaheim Ducks

Acquiring Ryan Kesler makes this dangerous team even scarier up the middle.

2. Arizona Coyotes

They’re still in the desert, with a new name and a new owner (again). They should be thankful for stable ownership, but wary of that five-year out clause rumoured to be in the Coyotes' contract with the league.

3. Boston Bruins

You could say the Bruins’ tight salary cap actually helped them this off-season, as they only had about $3 million to offer restricted free agents Reilly Smith and Torey Krug. Both signed for easy $1.4-million, one-year contracts.

4. Buffalo Sabres

No one expects much from the Sabres, but signing Brian Gionta and acquiring Josh Gorges in the summer gives them two leaders who won’t let the squad simply tank the season.

5. Calgary Flames

Sam Bennett got most of the attention in Calgary this off-season, but don’t overlook their new goalie, Jonas Hiller. He’ll be an upgrade in goal over Karri Ramo.

6. Carolina Hurricanes

New general manager Ron Francis will hopefully bring a new approach to building the Hurricanes - an approach that doesn't include signing every former Toronto Maple Leaf castoff available.

7. Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are going to be Blackhawks for a long, long time, after signing their twin eight-year, $84-million contract extensions this summer. And the best part is those don’t kick in until next year, so the Blackhawks have one more season before they need to clear cap space to accommodate their superstars’ new contracts.

8. Colorado Avalanche

The young Avs added some great veteran talent in the off-season, including Jarome Iginla, Brad Stuart and Danny Briere. The team still belongs to Gabriel Landeskog and company, but Iginla, Stuart and Briere bring lots of experience that will help through the rough stretches in Colorado.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets

Ryan Johansen is back under contract and the Jackets made the best of another bad situation, satisfying R.J. Umberger’s trade request by swapping him for heart-and-soul winger Scott Hartnell.

10. Dallas Stars

General manager Jim Nill had a great summer, making his young playoff team even better by trading for Jason Spezza and signing Ales Hemsky.

11. Detroit Red Wings

Head coach Mike Babcock is still in Detroit (for now).

12. Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers finally drafted a forward with size in 6-foot-1, 210-pound centre Leon Draisaitl, their third overall pick in this year’s draft. Be thankful he’s there, but be concerned he’s the second-line center right now.

13. Florida Panthers

The Panthers went on another spending to spree to get to the cap floor, signing useful veterans like Dave Bolland and Willie Mitchell. Their Stanley Cup experience will be helpful in developing the Panthers' next generation of young stars.

14. Los Angeles Kings

A Stanley Cup is great, but keeping almost everyone from that team for next year’s campaign? That’s something to be thankful for.

15. Minnesota Wild

Niklas Backstrom is healthy (or healthier, at least), and Thomas Vanek is finally in town. Vanek always wanted to go to Minnesota, and at last, we can all stop acting like he might’ve signed elsewhere.

16. Montreal Canadiens

The Habs took P.K. Subban to arbitration but figured out a long-term deal before the arbitrator’s decision. It’s probably best for both sides if they don’t negotiate again for a few years.

17. Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne is back and ready to carry the load in net, while new coach Peter Laviolette will show Predators fans what offense looks like.

18. New Jersey Devils

Addition by subtraction, as Martin Brodeur’s departure means Cory Schneider will get more starts and offer the Devils a better chance of making it back into the playoffs.

19. New York Islanders

Islanders’ management appears determined to avoid an embarrassing bottom-five finish this year. John Tavares is healthy and they’ve got a better goalie in Jaroslav Halak, plus they’ve added some talent up front (Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski) and on the back end (Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy).

20. New York Rangers

The Rangers finally bought out underachieving Brad Richards and his wildly expensive contract. Naming Ryan McDonagh captain was also a good move.

21. Ottawa Senators

After Jason Spezza spurned Ottawa and asked for a trade out of town, Sens fans can take comfort in Bobby Ryan’s recently-signed seven-year pact to remain with the team.

22. Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have a history of making dramatic off-season changes, so maybe fans should be thankful new general manager Ron Hextall stayed quiet for most of the summer. The only real headline-grabber was Claude Giroux, whose alleged run-in with Ottawa police provided Twitter with jokes for days.

23. Pittsburgh Penguins

You could point to new general manager Jim Rutherford or new coach Mike Johnston as the Pens’ best off-season moves, but the jury is still out on both. How about a healthy Sidney Crosby? That’s always worth giving thanks for.

24. San Jose Sharks

San Jose’s alphabet rebuild (i.e. stripping Joe Thornton of the captain’s ‘C’) didn’t cost them any of their most important players, aside from the aging Dan Boyle.

25. St. Louis Blues

It’s hard to complain about any of the Blues’ off-season moves. Ryan Miller wasn’t working, so be happy they let him go. Signing Paul Stastny was a good move, and Carl Gunnarsson will be a useful piece on the back end.

26. Tampa Bay Lightning

Franchise cornerstones Steven Stamkos and Ben Bishop had time to recover from their injuries last season.

27. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs didn’t blow their brains out on a big-name, big-money free agent this summer. Apparently, they learned their lesson from the bust that has been David Clarkson. Also, did you hear the Leafs have an analytics department now?

28. Vancouver Canucks

New coach Willie Desjardins will bring renewed energy to the Canucks, who were obviously worn down and miserable under John Tortorella last year.

29. Washington Capitals

Barry Trotz brings a ton of experience and respectability to the Caps’ coaching spot. After a string of first-time NHL head coaches (the last guy with experience was Ron Wilson from 1997-2002), the Capitals will finally have a steady vet in charge.

30. Winnipeg Jets

‘Mr. Stand Pat,’ Kevin Cheveldayoff, didn’t trade Evander Kane just for the sake of trading him. Oh, and Kane was mostly a good boy on Twitter this summer.

Did I miss something? What are you most thankful for with your team? Add it to the comments below.


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