How’s it going NHL fans? This is Brian Parker here, from the EA SPORTS Game Changers program to take a look at the “Top 5 Rebuilding Projects” in GM Connected. To determine which teams would be the most challenging to bring to success, I used a combination of the following factors: last season’s results; the team’s ratings; the average age of players on the roster; and the salary cap room available.
Here are the Top Five teams:
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – Average Age: 27 years, Projected Cap Space: $8.75 million
The Maple Leafs finished the 2011-2012 Season with 80 points, good for 13th in the Eastern Conference and five spots out of the postseason. It was another disappointing year for Leafs fans. The Leafs’ weakest rating in NHL 13 is 3.5/5 for goaltending. With $8.75 million in cap space available, there is room to go after a netminder to compete with or replace current starter James Reimer. There is also some scoring depth lacking up front. Expectations remain high, can you help this “Original Six” team return to the playoffs for the first time since before the 2003-2004 season?
4. New York Islanders – Average Age: 28.4 years, Projected Cap Space: $14.405 million
The Isles ended last season with 79 points, one point behind the Maple Leafs for 14th in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders sit tied with Florida as the lowest-rated teams in NHL 13, though New York gets a slight edge by having a younger roster by comparison. With nearly $14.5 million in cap space available, the Isles have the most money to play with of any team on this list. Can you take the Isles back to the postseason for the first time since a first round exit in the 2006-2007 Season.
3. Edmonton Oilers – Average Age: 28.3 years, Projected Cap Space: $9.225 million
The Oilers have a strong youth movement, thanks largely to consecutive first overall selections in the 2010 and 2011 NHL Entry Drafts: Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, respectively. In terms of ratings, the Oilers trend towards the bottom of the NHL, with strength at defense (4.5 of 5 stars) and some weakness at goaltender (3.5 of 5 stars). With just under $10 million in cap space to work with, it’s up to the NHL 13 general manager to decide how to fill the holes while still keeping this core intact. Can you help Edmonton return to the playoffs for the first time since they lost the 2005-2006 Stanley Cup Finals in seven games against the Carolina Hurricanes?
2. Montréal Canadiens – Average Age: 28.7 years, Projected Cap Space: $2.385 million
For fans of the league’s all-time most successful franchise, the 2011-2012 season can only be classified as a disappointment for Les Habitants. With 78 points, Montréal finished dead last in the Eastern Conference. Montréal’s ratings in NHL 13 put them above the pack, but the lack of significant funds available under the projected salary cap is a concern. The goal for whoever takes on the Canadiens’ cause will be to ensure that the talent performs up to standards. Can you lead the Habs back to the promised land?
1. Columbus Blue Jackets – Average Age: 27.5 years, Projected Cap Space: $13.43 million
With just 65 points and only 29 wins, Columbus had the worst record in the NHL last season. The Blue Jackets sit at 4 out of 5 stars across the board in NHL 13—solid numbers, though they no longer have a player quite like Rick Nash. At an average age of 27.5 years on the roster, only Toronto is younger on this list. Only the Islanders have more cap space, and with nearly $13.5 million available to spend, you’ll have options when it comes to trying to get Columbus into the playoffs for only the second time in their franchise history. When looking over all 30, the Blue Jackets —and their history of never finishing higher than 3rd in their division or winning a single playoff game—offer the toughest challenge for a potential GM. Can you lead the Blue Jackets to a Stanley Cup?
Have you started your GM Connected league yet? Let us know who you’re using in the comments below, and what your best advice is for NHL 13 fans just getting into this mode!