...the thing that drives me nuts about both lines (and hence, resigning bertuzzi) is that a very, very talented offensive player - hudler or filppula - will be wasted on a line that has two players with no hands - cleary and helm/abby.
i guess i like the second combination more, but really, i don't like either choice. it's going to take a cap-miracle signing to improve the situation.
Here's the problem with Bertuzzi. Like Holmstrom, he's productive when he's surrounded by great players on a top line (hank, pav, mule, flip, huds, etc.). But, also like Holmstrom, he's plain worthless on a third or fourth line. He's not talented enough to create scoring opportunities for himself. He's a liability defensively. He can't skate. He won't hit. Etc. Etc. Etc.
So, if we bring Bertuzzi back, like Homer, he MUST play on a top two line. That means one of these three talented players - Mule, Flip or Huds - will waste away on the third line with Cleary and Helm/Abby.
Someone mentioned this in another thread, and I thought it deserved its own post - aside from the 02 squad of hall-of-famers, even in the pre-salary cap era, most of our stanley cup championship teams have NOT had a scoring third line. all of these teams have had A) two great scoring lines, B) tough and reliable 3rd and 4th lines, C) great defense, and D) great goaltending.
B) tough and reliable 3rd and 4th lines: the problem here is that we seem set on resigning bertuzzi. but he is not a 3rd or 4th line player. he is a liability defensively and he doesn't hit anyone. he's essentially a poor-man's holmstrom at this point in his career. i think that we should use the rest of our cap space on acquiring a cleary-like player for this role. any ideas?
...Babcock's production lines each need three things: 1) a great two-way center; 2) a net presence; and 3) a second scoring forward with puck skills. Let's put three together this season.
Two-way Centers: 1-Datsyuk-Mhm. 2-Zetterberg-Mhm. 3-Helm-There was a time when I thought that Helm's potential was Draper 2.0. But lately, I've been starting to see a young, poor-man's Zetterberg out there. Outstanding defender, and he's starting to develop some hands. I like what I see.
Net-Presences: 1-Holmstrom-Had a great season last year, no reason to think he shouldn't be able to have another next season. Resign him to a 1 yr deal at a slightly lower price. Hopefully we'll be able to get him a little more rest down the stretch next season. 2-Cleary-He had a bad year. He seems to have lost his hands and aggressiveness. I'd like to replace him with someone that's more of a natural in front of the net, and preferably, someone that hits a little harder. This is our FIRST TRADE OPPORTUNITY. 3-Bertuzzi-Bert just really lacks offensive awareness out there. I'd like to replace him with someone that's got a little better hand-eye coordination in front of the net...and who plays better defense, hits.
Secondary-Scorers: 1-Franzen-Mhm. 2-Filppula-He'd be a great third line center, but we've got Helm, we've got Abby, and we lack talented wings. 3-Hudler-I can't wait for him to get back.
I don't care what order you put the top nine in. Get a two-way center out there. Get a net-presence out there. And get a secondary-scorer out there. Babcock can figure out the combinations. The personnel is there. And could maybe even be improved, as noted above.
4) Miller or Ritola or *FREE AGENT - Abdelkader - Eaves or *FREE AGENT
...-Abby is our 4th line center, no question there. I like Eaves. I like Miller. I like Ritola. But I am sick of having 4th line grinders that don't hit. I think we need to get a little more physical here. Get me two Abby clones. Guys that hit hard and play solid defense.
...If he retired, his cap-hit would still count against us. It'd be nice to see us trade him to make room for Ritola or whoever, but I doubt it's going to happen, unfortunately.
1) Lidstrom or *FREE AGENT - Kronwall
2) Stuart - Rafalski or *TRADE
...First and foremost, I think that we need to split up Nick and Raffy. Maybe even on the powerplay. Reason #1, neither of these old timers like contact. It's been pathetic watching everyone dump against our top pairing all post-season. Reason #2, these are two of the most skilled offensive defenders in the game...and there's only one puck to shoot. I think Raffy suffers a bit because he's always deferring to Lidstrom, being too unselfish. But when he's the guy, like on Team USA, he produces a lot of points. Oh, and if Nick retires (unlikely), Volchencov.
3) Kindl - Ericsson or *TRADE/FREE AGENT
...Kind's going to be up next season. He's a puck mover, so there won't be much of a need for Lebda. Ericsson, now there's a question mark. Is he going to rebound next season? Or is he going to continue his downward spiral? It might be a good idea to trade him for someone that lays the wood a little better. We'll see how it turns out.
...If he's too expensive to be a 7th defensemen, Lebda's fine.
This guy has just completely lost his wits out there. He's forgotten how to play the position. He's lost his awareness!? How could someone so young take so many steps backwards from one season to the next!? It's unreal. He looks like he needs a couple more seasons in GR right now.
I know that a lot of you don't like off-season posts during the post-season...but it's an off-day...I have fun doing this...and plenty of other posters have fun talking about it too. If you don't like it, just move on.
First of all, change in (or alteration of) general philosophy - forget about this running 4 lines b.s. In the salary cap-nhl, if you want to have success, you throw out your best six scorers on your top two lines, and you fill the rest of the roster with grinders. So...I'm going to leave this alone until I chalk up the lines below.
Second of all, personnel changes -
UFA's: #1) Lidstrom (7.5 mil) - He'll be back as our captain at a much lower price, probably a 1-2 year deal. #2) Holmstrom (2.3 mil) - He'll be back at a slightly lower price, probably 1 year. #3) Bertuzzi (1.5 mil) - I know he's easy to hate, but in all objective reality, he gives us everything on the ice that mule gives us...but to a lesser degree...and one that is fairly proportional to their difference in price.
RFA's: #1) Abdelkader (0.9 mil) - no question about it, slight raise. #2) Helm (0.6 mil) - ditto. #3) Miller (0.5 mil) - hopefully no one makes him a big offer. #4) Eaves (0.5 mil) - hopefully no one makes him a big offer. #5) Meech (0.5 mil) - shouldn't be hard to keep, nice seventh defenseman that can play forward in a jam.
KHL?: #1) Hudler (2.9 mil...I checked) - all signs point to yes. The cap-breaks we're getting from Lidstrom, to a lesser extent Homer, and some of these guys that we're losing below should give us enough space to fit him in.
Do not bring back:
#1) Williams (1.5 mil) - Doesn't fit into my plans. #2) Lilja (1.3 mil) - No room for him with Kindl coming up. #2) Maltby 0.9 mil) - Good time to step down. #4) Lebda (0.7 mil) - No room for him with Kindl. And I'd rather have a cheaper and more versatile Meech as my seventh defenseman.
#1) Hudler-Datsyuk-Franzen - Datsyuk and Zetterberg are our two best all-around players. They're going to be centering the top two lines. I'm not putting them together at even strength. Hudler is the best secondary scorer that we're going to have, better than Flip. Him and Pav on the same line together will be nasty. They'll score a lot of goals. Mule is our best "physical presence guy." At even strength, he's on this top line.
#2) Filppula-Zetterberg-Bertuzzi - Hank in the middle, second best all-around player. Flip on his wing, second best secondary scorer. Bert up front, second best physical presence. Keep in mind that these can shift as players gel. Mule can be swapped for Bert. Flip can be swapped for Huds. I don't really care what the combinations are...so let's not waste time arguing about the combos. All I know is that those six guys are our top six guys.
#3) Abdelkader-Helm-Cleary - This is kind of physical third line that makes teams like pittsburgh so hard to beat, and that we lack. Helm's a great, energetic, high pressure, turnover-creating nuisance that can center this line. Abby brings a lot of the same things at a much larger size, and with more scoring potential. Cleary seems to have sort of lost his scoring touch. I've got no beef with him dedicating himself to again being a great, physical defensive standout...that adds a little scoring potential to this line as well.
#4) Holmstrom-Miller-Eaves - This fourth line's not gonna get much even strength time...but so what...no one else is really trying to do that anymore. It's far from a waste line though. Homer is our first team power play net specialist (along with Pav and Hank, TOGETHER...Huds-Flip-Mule is our second pp unit). It'll be really, really nice to keep him fresh for that role in the playoffs as well!!! And Miller-Eaves are our first line PP killers (probably Helm-Cleary or Abbs as our second pk unit).
13th - Draper - great locker room guy, not a great player. Perfect as the 13th though, as he can slide in for someone nicely at either wing or center. Still a face-off stud in a pinch as well.
Lidstrom-Rafalski - Not getting any better, but still one of the better first pairs in the league.
Kronwall-Stuart - Again, probably getting close to their peaks, but still one of the better second pairs in the league.
Kindl-Ericsson - Kindl's up next season, no arguing about it. He probably takes over for Williams on our second team PP as well. Ericsson took a bit of a step back this season...but I still think that he's going to be a solid life-r here. Kindl's offensive abilities might help him settle into his more promising role as a stay-at-home Lidstrom-esque defender as well.
7th - Meech - Not that good, not that bad, still young, versatile, cheap...etc.
Howard - He had a great regular season...through three games he's given up one (maybe two...one in each of the losses) bad goal...and that's probably less or as many bad goals than Luongo's given up. He's our man next season. No question about it.
Osgood - He's under contract for one more season. He's probably thinking about retirment (in which case we'd have to sign another veteran - I don't think we want to go with a Howard/Larsson combo just yet). But I hope he instead chooses to take pride in the important role of the backup veteran who helps groom his successor.