.... Oh, and weren't the last like 3 years supposed to be "step-up seasons" for Filppula and Cleary?
Not really. For Flip, only this last year really was, and that was derailed a bit by his injury. And he still improved.
For Cleary, I think we were happy with him as a 20 goal/40 point guy who could play in any situation. Then his goals dropped a bit, and we were hoping he'd do better this year to help replace some of the lost offense. He was baged up for most of the season, and with all the other injuries, I don't think he was too bad.
It's a lot more possible when you stop trying to run 2 scoring lines and 2 checking lines. That's basically what we had last year, and the grit was spread too thin over the bottom 2 lines and neither was of any consequence. One or two guys in the lineup who are more geared to scoring would be all it takes to set up three dedicated scoring lines, that brings back the offensive depth and helps run the opposing team's D-Corp more ragged.
It can be done, and I say it should be done.
Well, let's look at it this way. Williams was brought in for $1.5 Million. He got 15 points in 44 games and was invisible in the playoffs so we won't worry about that. Just glancing through some of the free agent RW's heading to market soon, right away I find (don't groan) Maxim Afinogenov, who in comparison to Williams, played last year at $800K and played all season without serious injury and got 61 points. Now obviously after a season like that, he's going to get a raise -- and apparently an offer from Atlanta is already on the table for him to come back -- but even supposing he goes up to Williams' $1.5 Million, I'll take him over Jason 8 days out of 7! You throw him on the 1st/2nd line, maybe as redwingfan19 suggested you move Bert down to the third line to add more shifty offense, and with one move you're looking at a much scarier set of three lines.
We tried to have 3 scoring lines this past year. Then we got hit by the inuries. It's not like we started the season with a 4th line of May-Miller-Maltby.
What our attempt at 3 scoring lines got us Bert and Cleary on the 2nd line, Williams and a woefully underperforming Leino on the 3rd. Had Willy and Flip not gotten hurt, that third line might have broekn through and started scoring (they were
playing well, just not finishing), but the 2nd line would have still been weak.
3 scoring lines in the cap era means you have to have some players performing well over their contracts. For that, you have to be lucky in FA or the draft. Not something you can really plan on.
Afinogenov was a $3m player, had a couple bad years, a lot of injury problem, and some questions about his work ethic. No one wanted to take a chance on him. Atlanta did and it paid off. We could offer him $1.5 and he'd most likely laugh at us. He will probably get back close to $3. Prospal was another guy no one seemed to want that turned into a bargain. You might even put Bert in that group.
We could try the same thing this year with Bert, and/or maybe someone like Tanguay or Chris Higgins, but you have to realize there's just as much chance for moves like that to turn out the way Williams did.
I'd rather bring in someone like Nystrom or Asham that are more sure bets, and hopefully save some room for the deadline.