In an ideal situation this off-season would see Kenny signing Phaneuf and Vanek, add Westgarth + Mcgratton/Orr but the chance of that to happen is very slim, so I'm trying not to dream big.
I can dig it.
I'm not a big Phaneuf fan, and my impression is that Toronto is where he and The Cuthbert truly want to be. But I do feel he'd do well in a situation where he's not the #1 or #2 guy on the back end. I'd much rather have Girardi, but everyone knows that.
Vanek is a no-brainer, in terms of sheer desirability, though he can be a lot like Franzen (in a bad sense), and I don't know how he'd handle being part of an ensemble cast. And he's going to cost a fortune.
I really do like both Orr and Westgarth, though I'd only want, at most, one enforcer. Westgarth is set to be a UFA, which is the main reason why I keep naming him and not, say, Orr. And, again, I just think (or want to believe) Westgarth could be an awesome fit with the Euro Twins. All that third guy really has to do is retrieve pucks out of the corner, dish them to Z or D, and park his ass in front of the goalie.
Personally I really don't know which task is the more difficult one, improving the top 6 or adding a #1 defender...but improving the overall grit/toughness/muscle is for sure doable.
I can respect that last bit (toughness being doable). Because it's true. And I'm absolutely 100% in favor of this team getting tougher overall. I'd just want them to be smart about it. I'd want it to be something that makes a lot of sense for the team, that would be done to make us more competitive and help us win more games and ultimately another Cup. Something, um, "organic"?
As for the first part - I'd say that, in general, adding a #1 defender is definitely the more daunting, difficult task. We should feel very fortunate to have a guy as good as Kronwall is. If there's an issue with him, it's that he's forced to be The Undisputed Guy on our blue line. It's him, two guys who are solid but not as good as him, and a whole lot of nothing beyond that. It's a pretty good top three, that's it. Which might be ok if we could score 3-4 goals a game, but, as we all know, today's Red Wings suck at scoring. There is so much riding on DeKeyser continuing to amaze (and not continuing to get injured) and Smith making very big strides in a short span of time, and Ericsson being as good as he can be without any kind of relapse. And so the other three guys really have to pull their weight. The situation worries me, even with the likes of XO and Sproul coming up.
Y'know, I've been saying we need a high-end defenseman, but, given what I just said (that great defensemen are, generally, very hard to come by, and an average top four might be good enough if offense isn't an issue), maybe it would make more sense to "front load" the roster, i.e. load up on offensive weapons. Maybe that would complement the more intense and aggressive style of hockey that Babs would be preaching in my fantasy version of things. Just a thought.