Four NHLers who could struggle on their new team


Will Cam Talbot find success in Edmonton? (Adrian Wyld/AP)

Maybe it was a result of a paper-thin free agent class or maybe teams have gotten smarter — even the Toronto Maple Leafs had a mostly-logical sequence of off-season moves — but there has been a lack of head-scratching acquisitions throughout this 2015 off-season.

As a result, this list wasn’t the easiest one to compile.

We took a closer look at some of the moves from a relatively conservative few months in the league and highlighted some players who we’re not totally convinced will find the success their new teams expect.

It’s nothing personal. What we’re referring to is situations where players are now surrounded by lesser talent or placed in roles they might not be capable of excelling in for a variety of reasons.

So with that in mind, here are four players — in no specific order — who could struggle with their new teams:

Francois Beauchemin, Colorado Avalanche

Beauchemin was a stabilizing force in his two years with the Anaheim Ducks. He led the club in total ice time last season, logging over 22 minutes per game, but there are some concerns with his move to Colorado.

Beauchemin will be 35 years old when the 2015-16 season begins and the team may be asking too much of the veteran blueliner at this point in his career. He would be much better served as a complementary piece.

Instead, the Avalanche are expecting to place Beauchemin in their top pairing alongside Eric Johnson, where he will be expected to play significant minutes on a defensive corps that largely struggled last season. That isn’t a great fit for a player who could soon enter the decline phase of their career.

Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks

There’s a lot to like about Martin Jones. He’s just 25 years old and he doesn’t cost too much against the salary cap ($3 million). Plus, he has been developed by one of the best goalie coaches in the NHL, Bill Ranford.

However, it will be interesting to see how he performs without having the luxury of playing behind one of the NHL’s top defence groups.

There are some other question marks as well.

Jones is pretty inexperienced, making only 29 career starts, and the Sharks have little insight into how he’ll handle an increased workload.

Not to mention, Jones is coming off a sophomore season where his save percentage and goals-against average declined. Is that a sign of things to come, or was it a result of the Kings’ troubles last year?

Given the inconsistent track record of backups becoming starters, there’s plenty of risk for San Jose.

Johnny Oduya, Dallas Stars

Oduya is a rock-solid tough defenceman, but will he be able to perform as well outside of the friendly confines of Chicago?

With the Blackhawks, Oduya was perfectly cast as a No. 4 defenceman, regularly playing beside ascending defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson on a team that featured all-stars Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Moving to Dallas, he joins a Stars unit that ranked 26th in goals against last season. He won’t be surrounded by the same quality of talent, and after the team handed him a contract that pays him close to $4 million per season, he’ll be expected to play in tougher situations, which won’t be easy for the soon-to-be 34-year-old.

There will undoubtedly be an adjustment period and it remains to be seen whether he is a good fit for the increased role. Again, that’s no knock on Oduya, but rather more of an honest look at the situation he’s entering.

Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers

Talbot is in a very similar spot to Jones. He doesn’t have much of a proven track record outside of a small sample size, and is joining a far less proven team in front of him.

Talbot is coming off a breakout season where he admirably filled in for an injured Henrik Lundqvist to help the New York Rangers capture the Presidents’ Trophy. The 28-year-old, who was a late bloomer, parlayed that into a starting gig with the Oilers, who have had extreme difficulty finding a starting goalie since a surprise Stanley Cup run almost a decade ago.

Talbot was surrounded by arguably the deepest and most sound defensive unit last year in New York and he is going to an extreme opposite in Edmonton. The Oilers have been horrendous defensively over the past five seasons — a large reason they’ve had so much trouble in net — and if Talbot doesn’t get a better group in front of him, it’s hard to imagine him succeeding.

The Oilers have made some moves to stabilize the unit, signing Andrej Sekera to a big free-agent deal and trading for Griffin Reinhart from the New York Islanders on draft day, but there are still plenty of question marks surrounding the unit heading into the season. Until we see that the Oilers can aptly play in their own end, it’s difficult to bank on an Oilers goalie, despite his incredible play last season.

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