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04-18-2004, 05:25 PM
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Goalie: I believe Osgood did enough to activate his option for next year, which means he'll likely be back as the starter. As for backup, I'd rather have Sanford fill that spot. Divis does nothing for me. He is a converted positional goalie and doesn't have the speed to be a legit starter. Sanford is younger and IMO better. I'd go with Osgood and Sanford as next years tandem with Divis playing the mentor role in Worcester for (hopefully) Nissenen(if not Nissenen then Rudkowsky).

St. Louis: Osgood-Sanford
Worcester: Divis-Nissenen/Rudkowsky

D: I think we are looking at one FA signing. Pronger, Jackman and Backman make a very enviable top 3 but they are predominantly defense oriented. IMO we need a top 4 PP QB. I'd suggest Numminen but he is likely out of our price range. If we can't get him I'd try for Modry or Zhitnik. Salvador, Walker, Stuart and Pollock are the 5-8 men. I like the fact that both Stuart and Pollock are righties with heavy shots. It lessens the need for a righty to replace MacInnis with. Also, is Robin Johnsson going to play in Worcester next year or not? A lot of people have forgotten about him because of his Cancer issue but he still has an interesting package of size and offensive awareness( plus he is a righty with top 4 potential, something we are in short supply of). I don't think he'll be as good as Backman but he still has to figure into the teams long term plans. Also, does anyone think Belle will play in Worcester next year, or will we play him in Peoria and use him like we did Jackman?

St. Louis: Pronger/Jackman; Backman/FA D man(Numminen/Modry/Zhitnik); Salvador/Walker; Pollock
Worcester: Stuart/Brimmanis; Byrne/Jonsson(hopefully); Belle/Shefflemaier

First line: I do not get any of the anti-Demitra post's based on this years post season. Of the top three forwards he was IMO the best. I'd like to see him come back next year(though definately not at 6.5 mil). IMO we need to at least have a solid top line. Since Tkachuk is practically unmovable that means Demitra should stay for the chemistry. I'd like to see a top line of Tkachuk, Sillinger and Demitra next season. That combo was VERY interesting prior to the PO's and provided most of the offense during the PO's.

Second line: As for the second line, Weight has to go. He was absolutely putrid during this years PO's. He didn't even skate during game 5, he got on the ice and stood. I'd try trading him to Ottawa for Havlat or Hossa( one of these two will be gone, why can't we try to get them). If it were me I'd even pay part of his salary. In any case he has to go. IMO you need to get an NHL caliber winger or center as the return( I'd also offer him to Dallas in exchange for Arnott). Depending on who we trade Weight for we'd need either a center or a RW for the second line. Fortunately there are an abundance of wingers and centers for us to choose from. For Centers we have Conroy( probably the most likely FA signing the Blues will make), Damphousse, Nedved, Nylander, Rolston, Zhamnov, Primeau and Stumpel. For wingers there is Hull, Shanny, Murray, Palffy, Kariya, Selanne, Recchi, Ruchinsky, Arvedsson, and McAmmond. The third player on the line will be either Sejna or a very cheap FA pick up( ala Ruchinsky, McAmmond or Arvedsson).

Third Line: I don't think Cajanek is an ideal second line center. IMO he is either a top line role player(like he was late in the season) or a third line PK specialist. I'd like to see him and Drake( at a much lower price than 2.5 million) as the third line anchors. Put them with a speedy finesse guy( maybe Bogunieki) and I think you have a very good, 2-way third line.

Fourth Line: I think Danton is gone. It is a real shame too because he looked to be the anchor for the fourth unit. I'd like to see RJ and Rycroft back but not Rheaume so that still leaves us a LW short of a line. IMO we don't need Low to come back because Walker is big enough to fill the enforcer role. I think we should let Valeev have another crack at the spot( with Martins there in case he doesn't clinch it). He is essentially the same type of player that Danton was and has size on top of it.

Worcester is where the real fun will take place. Zakharov(I think, I'm not sure about him), Skohtov, Troliga, Johnsson, Mihknov, Belle and I believe Riddle will be eligible for AHL play and I find it hard to believe that they won't make the team. Them, along with Disalvatore, a more experienced Hemmingway, Pohl, Black and Glumac gives Worcester a good amount of offense. Evan's, McClaren and King provide muscle. From what I've read about Ready he is another of the Danton/Nash type pest's. It also looks like he has decent hands so he could figure into the top 3 lines for Worcester( or potentially compete with Valeev and Martins for the fourth line LW spot).

St. Louis: Tkachuk Sillinger Demitra(the STD line? ); (pretty much all spots are open for competition)Shanny Conroy Murray( if we throw caution to the wind and want to go for it all); Bogunieki Cajanek Drake; Rycroft RJ Valeev; Martins.

Worcester: Zakharov Pohl Glumac; Skohtov McClement Hemmingway; Glumac Black DiSalvatore; King/Ready Evans McClaren

My ideal team for next year( using this years salaries):
Tkachuk Sillinger Demitra - 18.3 mil
Sejna Conroy Murray- 6.6 mil
Bogunieki Cajanek Drake-3.5 mil
Rycroft Johnson Valeev- 1.6 mil
Pronger Jackman- 10.5 mil
Backman Numminen- 6 mil
Salvador Walker- 1.7 mil
Osgood- Sanford 4 mil

At their current salaries that would put the NHL team budget at $52.2 million. That isn't too far off from the rumored 45 mil hard CAP that may be put in place. Pronger, Demitra, Sillinger, Drake , Numminen and Osgood will all likely accept a cut in pay( maybe not a dramatic cut but a slight cut) which could make this a feasible lineup for next year.

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