Published On: Mon, Aug 22nd, 2016

4 teams likely to take a step back in 2016-17

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The NHL offseason is nearing the end, and soon clubs will begin to hit the ice with their retooled rosters.

Teams have been doing their darnedest to patch up and bolster their squads in a bid to improve or sustain the success they found in 2015-16.

However, while some teams are sure to rise from the depths of last season’s standings, many are doomed to stumble and fall this season.

Here is a look at which team in each division is poised to take a step back this upcoming season:

Pacific – Los Angeles Kings

While the San Jose Sharks made quick work of them in the first round of the playoffs, the fact is the Los Angeles Kings actually matched the second-best record in franchise history, amassing 102 points.

The Kings rebounded after missing the postseason the year prior, but heading into the 2016-17 season, the club could be hard-pressed to duplicate last season’s success.

Right off the top, the Kings said goodbye to Milan Lucic who in his first and only season with the Kings appeared to fit the club’s mould perfectly with his rugged physicality, not to mention his 20 goals and 55 points – good enough for fourth in team scoring.

The team also let Jhonas Enroth go, even while the team’s backup – albeit in a much smaller work load – led the team’s netminders with a .922 save percentage and a 2.17 GAA in 16 games.

The team also saw other less significant names leave, while their biggest addition in the offseason was Teddy Purcell. They might not fall out of a postseason spot, but the Kings can surely expect to take a step backwards next season.

Metropolitan – Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes exceeded expectations in 2015-16, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference despite a club that lacked any superstar talent.

The Hurricanes are in the midst of a transition period as they appear to be turning their roster over with young, home-grown talent.

To their misfortune, they find themselves in one of the most difficult divisions in the league – one that seemingly got stronger this offseason.

The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins remain the heavyweights of the bunch, but the Rangers remain strong, thanks to the acquisition of Mika Zibanejad and signing of Jimmy Vesey.

The Hurricanes did little in free agency, signing journeyman Lee Stempniak and adding forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Viktor Stalberg. The team could have used an upgrade between the pipes, but instead Ron Francis and company elected to re-sign Cam Ward.

The future remains bright for the Hurricanes with many high-end prospects at their disposal, but next season will see a slight regression.

Central – St. Louis Blues

It should be noted off the top that the St. Louis Blues surely aren’t going to fall off the face of the earth next season

The Blues reached the Conference Finals for the first time since the 2000-01 season, but even on the backs of their longest playoff run in 15 years, the club saw a huge turnover this offseason.

The team saw goaltender Brian Elliott and forward Troy Brouwer join the Calgary Flames and captain David Backes sign with the Boston Bruins.

Where things begin to look less optimistic is that the only big-name replacement for these players was David Perron.

In goal, the Blues said goodbye to Elliott. He was arguably the team’s most valuable player in the playoffs and the club’s most reliable option during the regular season, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.07 GAA. Both marks bested those set by Jake Allen.

In Backes and Brouwer, the team loses size and a combined 39 goals and 84 points. Of course, the club should be healthier with the likes of Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny available long term, while the addition of Vladimir Sobotka should help.

The Blues will once again be a lock for the playoffs, but challenging for another Conference Final might be a bit much.

Atlantic – Boston Bruins

The Bruins’ biggest offseason casualty came in the team’s unsuccessful attempt to re-sign Loui Eriksson.

The 31-year-old instead elected to join the Vancouver Canucks, so in turn the Bruins lost one of their three 30-goal scorers.

In his place, the Bruins brought in David Backes. Backes definitely fits the Bruins’ mould perfectly in his ability to throw his weight around while adequately chipping in offensively.

However, the fact is Backes is one year Eriksson’s senior and, unlike his predecessor, has not managed 30 goals or more since the 2010-11 season. Meanwhile, Eriksson’s 63 points this season are more than Backes has ever hit.

Moving down the list, the Bruins also did very little to address their need on the opposite side of the puck.

The team gave up an average of 2.78 goals per game last season, good enough for 20th in the league. To fix the problem the team bought out Dennis Seidenberg‘s contract and re-signed John-Michael Liles – who, despite being a solid veteran blue-liner, plays more of an offensive-style game.

More could have and should have been done for a team whose Cup window is closing quick.

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