Well not everything is a disaster or left in turmoil. I mean after all, we did win the President's Trophy and we had to beat quite a few teams to earn it. We did advance to the second round of the playoffs without any fancy changes in the team or core group of players. We now realize we have to adjust the team to win coming out of our own division. We also learned that taking a chance on high profile players at the trade deadline or rentals, are probably the best way to get into the finals. Two high profile goal scorers are making a difference in the advancement of the LA Kings and NY Rangers. Both of these teams were anemic goal scoring teams before the Olympics.
Let's shift focus to some of the positives. Dougie Hamilton and Reilly Smith grew their games in a big way over the course of the season. Kevan Miller was an unexpected diamond in the ruff kicking around in Providence. Torey Krug's huge offensive upside, has to be balanced by what he is capable of defensively in the playoffs. You can't just dip down and cover for a Dennis Seidenberg by committee, you have to replace an important cog or piece if you expect to advance. We have a great deal of depth in Providence, but it's very hard to integrate it come playoff time. Tuukka Rask can play big games and a whole season, but he can't make up for a tired and battered defense. We learned that talented players like Jordan Caron, sometimes just can't have chemistry on certain teams and you have to trade or cut bait at some point to help the team. Chad Johnson played well enough to seriously consider making Svedberg a trading chip if you bring him back.
I also think it's time to shake up the lines come the new season. My thinking is that the new first line is Milan Lucic, Karl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Second line Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith. The new third line is Daniel Paille, David Krejci and Free Agent Matt Moulson. The new fourth line is Torey Krug, Greg Campbell and Matt Lindblad. This means we let Iginla and Thornton go to Free Agency. Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron become possible trade bait. Matt Fraser becomes the 13th forward.
The Defense; Chara and Hamilton, Seidenberg and Boychuk, Trade with Buffalo for Christian Erhhoff and he plays with Kevan Miller. Making Bartkowski and McQuaid trade bait.
We back up Rask with a re-signed Johnson and make Svedberg available for trade. We trade McQuaid, Bartkowski and Svedberg for Erhhoff. Buy out Kelly, do not re-sign Caron. If Thornton doesn't get picked up, I say offer him a coaching position in the organization. We have to pick up Moulson via Free Agency.
What does this accomplish? Well, we add speed to the forwards, Krug is your defacto seventh defenseman and can still see time on the power play. The defense becomes bigger and more shutdown and still provides for good 5 on 5 play. The new look first line becomes tougher, the second line is still shutdown and offensively gifted and the new third line adds speed and depth. The new fourth line gains speed and offense talent. Most of your enforcement moves back on the defense and Krug slips back on defense if you lose a defenseman in a game and Fraser moves up to the fourth line during that time. Other forwards if injured can be replaced, Fraser or call-ups like Spooner or Khokhlachev as needed. Goalies remain unchanged and development continues with Suppan.
I'm sure it won't play out this way, but I think this would be an equally adept team as this years was, but faster and more versatile. The draft should focus on goaltending and character players. We will be deep in the draft so I might go for the best available goalie and perhaps Ted Donato's son in the second round. Other possible Free agent signings are Steve Ott as a Thornton replacement and resigning Iginla, which I don't see. I think Iggy signs on with Detroit in a 2-3 year deal replacing Alfredson. I feel we have no chance to sign Gaborik and would not sign Vanek. The Bruins might let go of Chad Johnson and re-sign Svedberg to back-up Rask and that has been the plan, but Svedberg will never emerge from behind Rask and may want to be traded where he could play number one soon. Johnson will always be a back-up and might as well make a home here until Suppan is ready.
Until next time!