As we near the three-week mark of the 2021-22 Stanley Cup playoffs, eight teams have been sent home: the Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals.
It goes without saying that any team eliminated in the first round has room for improvement next season. But which of these teams needs to blow it up the most?
The Daily Faceoff Roundtable members make their picks.
MATT LARKIN: For me, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s time to stop trying to run it back for one last ride. The Pens since winning the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017: second-round exit, first-round exit, first-round exit, first-round exit, first-round exit. Their core has gotten a bit too old, their depth has thinned out, and they have one of the league’s most barren farm systems after sacrificing so many picks and prospects to (successfully) chase championships half a decade ago. With Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang’s contracts up, Penguins management should view the situation as an opportunity to start fresh. If not a full rebuild, this team at least needs a significant retool. Sidney Crosby has indicated he has at least a few years left. Isn’t it worth taking a step backward for a season or two in hopes of getting him one more actual shot at glory rather than burning away more seasons in mediocrity? The Detroit Red Wings’ 25-year playoff streak became a curse. It created a constant need to limp on as pseudo-contenders and it set the franchise back years. The Pens, who have the NHL’s longest active postseason streak at 16 years, can’t make the same mistake. Time for the them to start collecting picks and prospects. Maybe they can even use their newfound cap space as an asset to take on money in exchange for draft capital.