The month of December is typically a time when NHL general managers get together with their scouting staffs and evaluate where they are and, more importantly, where they are going as an organization. It's a time when enough of the season has been played to have a real good idea of what you've got on your roster.
With this in mind, here is my take on the major issues facing each Eastern Conference team as the halfway point in the season nears, and what course of action each might take.
The problem: The injury bug has bitten big chunks out of the Bruins' finely crafted Stanley Cup-contending lineup.
The fix: In survival situations, it is often not the initial emergency that proves fatal, but the judgment-impairing panic that sets in afterward. Boston is in the middle of an injury thunderstorm, but it has the depth and veteran leadership to close ranks and weather it. The Bruins are the class of a weak Eastern Conference and need to use this midseason challenge as a team-unifying opportunity. I'd stand pat.
The problem: The cleanup from Buffalo's disastrous, culture-changing 2011 plunge into free agency is in full throttle. The Sabres have some intriguing trade deadline auction items (Steve Ott, Matt Moulson and Ryan Miller), but they need an architect in place before they start building their new house.