"Congratulations guys! You're now the new coaches for the Washington Capitals! You should start putting together your drills for training camp and thinking about line combinations. Oh, by the way... you don't actually have a team to coach."
Imagine being on the top of the world, like Adam Oates has been. You were an assistant on a Stanley Cup Finals-caliber team (a team that, on paper, should not have been there). Your name keeps coming up for head-coaching positions in the off-season before your old team comes calling. You jump at the chance to lead a team. Almost everyone loves your style and your hockey IQ. It's a perfect fit. Now that you're here, what's the first order of business?
The Players have it easy. They can go play overseas (or in the case of younger guys, the AHL and ECHL) and keep their skating legs and hockey-minds fresh. GMs are still dealing with minor league players and rosters, preparing their draft lists ...