Smith has always had the talent to make an impact at this level...remember his first call up, where conducive pairings gave him less responsibility and he went 0.5 ppg....For entirely understandable long term reasons, Babs tried to force him into being a more defensively responsible D-man, but all this did was neuter his strengths, while he showed no real aptitude for resolving his weaknesses.
Now its a case of usage, freedom and confidence and we are seeing the guy we thought we had in 2012. He's always going to be risky, but as has been said elsewhere, you may as well let him play and get the reward rather than shut him down and just have slightly less risk...
This team is on the lower part of the upward curve of the parabola and have managed to turn over 65% of the roster without missing the playoffs and has done so being a couple of dodgy refereeing calls away from beating the eventual cup winners or runners-up twice in recent years.
We still aren't a legit contender, but as ever have enough about the roster to suggest that if they get hot and and lucky with the draw, they could go deep into the playoffs.
The wings are trying the ambitious and unusual approach of trying to turn over a complete roster, using primarily home-grown players and progress to a position of challenging without ever having a truly fallow period.
Whether this can work will be clear in the next 2-3 years, but if successful would be an outstanding achievement and could possibly extend the streak to 30-35 years, which would be amazing.
The worth of being able to ice a playoff team every year, despite transition, will only serve to keep Detroit relevant for potential long term UFAs regardless of CBA developments. People have bemoaned missing out on Suter, but we were in the last two for the most desirable UFA in the last decade and only lost out due to a combination of personal circumstances for the player.
As a club the DRW remain in great shape. As a roster? We'll know a lot more after the next 2 years.
Smith is what he is...not nearly as bad as half the fan-base make out, but not nearly reliable enough to earn complete trust. One thing is for sure...he needs to be alongside someone who is more defensively solid and calm under pressure. Hence the reason he looks better next to kronner or DD....next to kindl you have jakub's primary weaknesses (a slight lack of intestinal fortitude and a related capacity to panick under intense pressure) intensified by a complimentary s***- storm of Smith's erratic decision making and Iack of awareness.
Larkin is the safest bet, (such smooth progression) and at the moment has little competition for his projected role. Mantha has an upside that may be even greater but a few more question marks, and may have more competition. Neither will see more than a handful of games this year, just as mantha was very unlikely to make the team even before his injury.
Looking at lower draft picks, AA is the one who looks most nailed on at NHL level and probably has the highest ceiling, but I think Holmstrom has an alluring mix of intensity and smarts.
D-wise, I think all are 2nd/3rd pairing guys, but I love marchenko's gone and think he has upside...
On Pulks specifically, I think if he can hold down a 3rd line place with PP time, he well score on pace for 20 goals...His assist totals will likely be lower, though I'm not as down on his playmaking than others. He has enough about his game to contribute at NHL level, and perhaps has a longer term upside as 30/60 man, but will take a while to adjust. Agree with those that say his wider skillset is underrated, but he is still too guilty of just entering the zone and unleashing the slapper when other things aren't working. Much of his success will depend on who his linemates are. But the guy has the talent to finish that we need.
kickazz, I don't turn on player left and right. I admit, I have turned on a couple, Q and Franzen to name two, but not before they have PROVEN in the NHL that they aren't worth the money or the roster spot. Granted, Q did better last season, but he makes too much money. I know the market dictates it, but I think Holland should have just let him go when he was UFA instead of spend the $4.25M on him...we would've had XO or Marchy all season last year and this year. Franzen....nevermind, I need not get in to that subject...its been well discussed.
Doesn't mean I will TURN on Pulk, but at least give him a full season to prove whether or not he is indeed worthy of an NHL spot. He will MOST definitely do a s*** ton better than Franzen will.
Without wishing to entirely re-open both debates, i think and have always thought you are wrong about the players you are talking about. Partly because you seem to operate primarily in absolutes.
Howard (aforementioned) is a goalie worth his contract when fit. Anyone could see Mrazek had a higher ceiling, but when you have one guy proven at around the level you need, and one guy that might be lights out, but has barely played at the highest level, you don't jettison the proven man, even if his upside isn't quite as high. Either way, despite the fact that I've loved Mrazek since within a few months of the pick, equally, you can't bet the house on him yet. There have been plenty of goalies who start big and deteriorate. I don't think Petr will be one, and I expect him to become one of the top 5 in the NHL, but it doesn't make the Howard signing a mistake in anyway.
Quincey was never as bad as people thought, and at the time he signed, that was the best option. He's turned out to be just about worth his contract, and no-one from below has done enough to push him out. He broke through to the NHL in LA as an offensive defenceman, and its taken time for him to take on the defensive mode we need him to. He'll likely be gone by the time the finance is an issue anyway. But the wings were NEVER going to give up on a player they invested so much in at the time when he seemed to finally get the system and elevate his play to the desired level.
Franzen was both an excellent player and well worth his contract up until last season. Sure he floats, but he is positionally and defensively responsible, puts up points at 45-60 pace every year (even last year), and has great chemistry with Z and Nyquist. It looks like he's done due to concussions, but as an all round player he is a lot better than credited for, and when he gets hot, he can blow teams away. I'll be amazed if Pulks will ever get as good all round as Franzen was 07-13, and I'm very keen on the little finn.
So much playing the soothsayer in retrospect when actually your track record is entirely debatable will piss people off.
The D is an interesting situation because with free agents and promotions it could be very different, but equally it might be the same.
I suppose the biggest question is will the coach keep the Babcock tight positional play that has been reasonably successful or take a risk and go for a more offensive style? The answer to that will determine the futures of many players on the roster, including kindl, smith, weiss, jurco and possibly Pulks, all of whom would be keen to see the latter.
One of the interesting questions for the new set up is can they get the playoff version of Brendan Smith to show up in the reg season. In the post season he has looked like a top 4 dman, but in the 82 games he can fluctuate from top 4 to #8 without warning. Kindl also has question marks...although he gets the easy ice time, his points to games ratio is not bad at all, and he is one of the few of our D who actually can hit the net on the PP, and he plays great stretch passes. Can they get him to overcome his indecision and lack of fight in his own end? Big asks, but either coming off would be a big help. Can Big Rig get his confidence back with a healed hand and actually look a top 4 damn? Will DD continue to progress? Will KFQ be able to maintain last seasons form without babs? Or might he even surpass it and re-find his offensive touch as seen in LA and Colorado? We know Marchy and XO can cope with Blashill, but can they REALLY step up?
And of course, one can assume KH will try to find a FA upgrade. Landing any of the current options creates spare assets. A trade for an upgrade seems unlikely, but the cap space of others may yet change that, especially from teams out west.
As for what I'd like to see...
If we can't get Green or Franson at a reasonable price, i would consider Martin, Sekera or maybe even Erhoff or Meszaros (if cheap cheap) if we can swing send some other assets away for an upgrade. Otherwise leave along. Up front, Drew Stafford is an obvious option, Joel Ward as an outside choice but really there isn't much and I'd probably prefer to stand pat.
Again if we trade assets, maybe Shawn matthias, glencross,Justin Williams or possibly at a push Frolik come into, but only would be worth considering if we can shift others out to bring an upgrade on the back end.
In net, I can't see Jimmah leaving, so no change except possibly in GR.
If no trades or signings of note happen, I'd be tempted to shake up some of the lines. Tats works well with D but also with Sheahan so I'd be tempted to go with.
Z - D - Abby
Tats - Sheahan - Jurco
Franzen/Pulks - Helm - Nike
MIller, Glen, Ferraro
NK - BS
KQ - DD
JE - AM
Of course Weiss and Kindl if not traded will rotate in, and I wouldn't be surprised if the former bounces back to complicate things no end!
But I would only do so on the basis of situational line rotation and fairly equal ice time for the top 3 lines. Its tricky because it would mean Tats/Sheahan/Jurco would be the only balanced line really. Nyquist has great chemistry with Zetterberg, but the only other person he seems to really have that telepathy with is Franzen and I can't see him coming back or staying back. Otherwise that's a good line because of Franzen's size, and Nyquist's speed taking some of the physical pressure of Z, but only really works if Z and Franzen can rotate central duties as I don't see Z as a full time center from here on in.
Dats can kind of play with anyone as long as there is at least someone providing good forecheck pressure. Pulks I can see moving up and down the line up until he finds a fit as his shot makes him a threat on any line that gets offensive zone time.
Certainly the 4th line picks itself as the roster stands.
On the back end the only pair that works for both is KQ and DD, and I'm scared of having Kronwall and Ericsson together as Kronner's skating has declined and Ericsson's first 5 yards is SLOOOOW. Smith on the first line IS a massive risk, but he seems to play better when a) given more responsibility and b) with someone really smart! In an ideal world someone comes in alongside Kronner or Marchenko suddenly takes 3 steps forward. We all know our back end is horribly imbalanced and suffers from quantity over quality, so unless we get someone in from outside then there is no really satisfactory solution. I know Smith higher up the line-up might go horribly wrong, but if nothing changes roster wise, i'd prefer to take the risk first up and give him a chance and the confidence to utilise his strengths. Like many, I suspect he just doesn't have what it takes between the ears, but he does seem to switch on when pushed front row centre. As for PP, I only think smith works if we play 2 d- men and he can roam, effectively being a demi forward, so if the current set up works with the coaching changes I'd use him sparingly. I say utilising him there is less of a priority than getting the Pulkcannon in positions to use that slap shot. Our finn has much development to do, but he has the best slapshot and one of the best wristers on the roster and he WILL shoot, so if he's on the team that has to be utilised, and not too close to the crease. His release and ability to find space will never match Brett Hull's but he's the closest this club has seen since.
Comparing Z & D to Nyquist and Tatar is not helping anyone.
Zetterberg took his great leap forward at the age of 19/20, and by 22 was a more complete player than either of our new kids, and came straight to the NHL on a stacked roster.
Similar with Dats, who arrived with less hurrah, but his team-mates (especially one Brett Hull) were very vocal in saying that he would be a star.
Of course, both had the advantage of being able to develop under the radar to a degree due to the fact that that roster was bolstered by 6 guys who finished with comfortably over 1000 points, and Larionov who would have done had he been allowed over here before he was. And Chelli. And the grind line. And Homer. Apart from the bottom two pairing on D and in net that was as good a roster as any of us have seen. I would imagine, if Tats and Nike were 3rd liners on a stacked outfit, the transition would be easier.
But ultimately anyone hoping our new euro kids will match the twins is only making a rod for their backs. As I've said elsewhere, if you want a comparison, they are basically slightly more talented versions of Slava Kozlov without the same playoff touch. Very good complimentary players who are unlikely to ever be core stars. But for a mid 2nd and a 5th, that's already far more than this organisation has the right to expect.