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Keys to the offseason for NHL teams, including draft, free-agency game plans

Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021-22 NHL season included a great deal of highlights, from the dominance of the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers to the goal-scoring prowess of Auston Matthews and Chris Kreider to spectacular goaltending from Igor Shesterkin, Frederik Andersen and Jacob Markstrom.

But there can be only one team that gets to raise the Stanley Cup. For the rest, this offseason will be a critical time to restock for another playoff run, make that big free-agent signing to get over the hump or continue the slow build back to contention. It's time to identify their biggest needs as well as some solutions that can be explored.

Read on for a look at what went wrong for each eliminated team, along with a breakdown of its biggest keys this offseason and realistic expectations for 2022-23. Note that more teams will be added to this story as they are officially eliminated from the playoffs.