It’s just past the ten game mark for most of the teams in the NHL now. Twenty teams have played at least ten games and the other ten are at nine except for the Coyotes who have played only eight. The question is “What are the GMs thinking about at this point in the season?”
There’s different answers here for different teams especially in this “capped” era of the NHL. If you’re Ken Holland you are certainly thinking alot differently than if you’re Garth Snow. The difference is expectations. Every General Manager has his own set of expectations for his club given the owner’s direction, budget, talent, and stage of building his team. Hopefully all the organizations have the same goal and purpose, that being to build a hockey team that can win the Stanley Cup. For some that goal is reachable this season. For many others that goal is a futuristic dream that they are trying to envision coming to reality someday.
So if you’re one of the teams that has expectations of contending for the Cup in ’09, then at this point you’re evaluating your roster on a daily basis. You want to be better now. You constantly ask yourself how you can strengthen a position that you and your coach feel is the weakest link in the chain. Doug Wilson, Ken Holland, and Bob Gainey are at this point constantly talking to their coach and analyzing their strengths and more importantly weaknesses. These teams all have legitimate shots at the Cup this year.
If you’re one of the teams that’s in a so called “rebuilding” phase, then you’re expectations are considerably lower. Garth Snow, Dean Lombardi and Don Waddell are at this point, or should be, scouting young talent. Yes they are also constantly evaluating their NHL roster but for different reasons. They want to know who on their team can help them get to the next level, making the playoffs. They also are evaluating their own young players to keep a handle on their development. If a young guy is showing signs that he may not be what people thought he was going to be, you have to know early. You’re always better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. And these GMs are also the ones that you’ll find scouting amateurs much more. They need to be out looking for their future, since it’s really all they have.
Basically evaluating your roster and your prospects is a year round job for the GM. At this time of year however you are getting the early reality of what you have and how far away you are from the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup.