Training camp is just around the corner, and that means it's time to look back at the teams that have been in rebuild mode all summer. Here are some of the best and worst rebuilds of the summer:
Tampa Bay Lightning - Tampa didn't go overboard with changes this summer. Despite an uncertain ownership situation the Bolts managed to hang on to the core of a group that was far better than their 2008-09 record. Adding Victor Hedman to the blueline was a big plus, but now the Swedish sensation has to prove he can play on a smaller rink in a game where fighting is actually allowed.
Detroit Red Wings - Surprised to see them here? You shouldn't be. The Red Wings were (and still are) up against the cap and needed to be creative just to hang on to 2008 Conn Smythe winner Henrik Zetterberg and Johann Franzen. Even with those obstacles the Wings only lost two key pieces: Marian Hossa and backup goalie Ty Conklin. Both were easy for GM Ken Holland to replace. All he had to do was callup a couple players from the Grand Rapids Griffins. Instead all he did was sign Todd Bertuzzi and Jason Williams. Overall this is still the team to beat, even if Pittsburgh did win the Cup.
Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs added grit to last year's talented roster, the only question now is can Ron Wilson find his way back to the Stanley Cup Finals with this group, or will it take a few more years?
Colorado Avalanche - The only team worse than Colorado in the standings last year was Phoenix, but the Avs didn't need to throw the baby out with the bath water the way they did. Tony Granato, one of the most respected coaches in the league, was shown the door after being told his job was safe. Safe, that is, unless it gets out that Colorado wants to hire Patrick Roy and he turns them down and the team ends up with egg on its face. If that happens, which it did, the entire front office will have to change because it was their fault that our goalies had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese and that some of our AHL players had more NHL games played than our NHL players. Bottom line is that the Avalanche had a lot of problems on the ice, and they fixed them by changing things off the ice.
Dallas Stars - Okay, on the plus side there is now only one GM in Dallas. Joe Nieuwendyk has replaced the Les Jackson-Brett Hull tandem in Texas, but he hasn't done much better so far. His first move was to fire head coach Dave Tippet and replace him with Marc Crawford. Crawford? Really? There weren't any other coaches available? Okay, your funeral Mr. Nieuwendyk. In all fairness, Crawford is a decent coach and may be able to get Dallas back to the playoffs. But in fairness to Tippet, the Stars were without their star players most of the season and were still in the hunt for the playoffs until the end. Once again a team is trying to solve their on-ice problems with off-ice changes, and that fails as often as it succeeds.
San Jose Sharks - This one is kind of an in-between rebuild. GM Doug Wilson promised that changes would be made, and so far the only change he has made is to overspend. He let Travis Moen and Brian Boucher go, gave Kent Huskins a 2-year $3.4 million contract (cap hit = $1.7 mil) and then went golfing. Rumors have been circling all summer that the Sharks would trade Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton, but nothing has happened. Both have been removed as captains pending their performance as leaders in camp next month. On the plus side, the Sharks are still the same team that won the President's Trophy last season. But on the negative side, that means this is still the same team that made playoff choking into an art form last April.