The lack of respect for Miller and Bertuzzi astounds me. These claims that Bert can't handle second-line ice are 100% bulls***. The guy outscored Homer and Flip. He produces about a point every other game on average. That's what you expect from a mid-level second-liner. He was also one of the hardest working defensive forwards we saw, five-on-five, and got props from Babs for it on a few occasions. He's a good player. Same with Miller. He's unspectacular but he's effective at what he does and he works his ass off on the defensive side of the puck.
Sometimes a team adds by subtraction. Losing Drapes, Modano, and hopefully Hudler, the forward corps loses a couple of its softest forwards and another whose job was replaced by Helm long ago. Equally true on defense. It cannot be said that Rafalski wasn't a defensive liability at even strength. He was just too easy to muscle off the puck. Period. And the back end still has people that can generate offense, even if a big trade doesn't come down. Lidstrom and Kronwall are elite, offensively. Stuart is capable if he gets back into the swing of acting like the defenseman he was in SJ and Boston. Ericsson and Kindl have considerable untapped offensive ability as well. It's all about improvement from within. This team's got a big pile of guys in their twenties right now. If they get better, the team will do fine. If they regress, the team will suffer.
At the very least, subtracting its two softest forwards and its softest defensemen, the team will be tougher to play against, even if it's a bit of a loss with respect to top-end skill. I like the change.
Not the sexiest pick, but I like Grabner for it. He scored his ass off on a weak team, and was one of only three guys on the Isles to run a +. Skinner and Couture got some nice linemates - Grabner got what, Frans Nielsen?
The fault is on Letang for not keeping his head, hands, and stick up to protect himself. He got caught completely stationary, turned around, watched his pass for a second, forgot about the forecheck in doing so, and got buried. Brule coasted in, hit him front-on, with his arms up on his chest, while Letang was totally unready to get hit hit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this play from Brule's end.