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04-09-2012, 12:00 PM
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Playoff contenders? Ehhh... yeah sure. I'm there's a lot of what-ifs but there is enough to like about our blueline. Most of the what-ifs are those swirling around Markov - if he comes back at 100% we're doing pretty good, back at 60% and it's touch and go, suffering from some kind of permanent degenerative knee damage and we're toast. The guys just eats so many minutes and does so much right that losing him for any amount of time means terrible bad things. We don't have anyone who can replace him (not even Subban - more on him later) and we won't without saddling ourselves with a large contract right now. So a lot hinges on him.

Outside of Markov the next biggest question mark is Subban. Two season of progressively better play tells me at least that PK is going to be be the next Markov. In 4-5 years. Until then he's going to have to work on making his game work. That was his problem this season - making his stylish, offensive game mesh with the more defensive role he had to play as Markov's replacement. And he did an okay job, but it hurt his offense (and we need offense). If Markov is back next season I think we'll see Subby make a few more end to end rushes and use that speed of his. And his defensive game should improve as well.

Kaberle is Kaberle is Briesbois reborn. A good puck mover with a record of poor choices and marshmellow soft play. In the right situations he can be highly effective. In the wrong situation (like say playing with an equal defensive liability in Campoli) he's a liability.

Likewise Gorges is Gorges. Don't expect surprises out of him, but he's defensively sound and that counts for a lot.

Emelin. Like this kid. He's a predator on the ice and he's fairly fast too. Be interesting to see him play an entire season with Subban - I think their speed and styles would compliment. Might need to put a Staubitz out there on every shift though to keep the "you made me look a fool I will fight you" knuckle draggers in line.

Campoli. Goodbye.

Diaz/St. Denis/Weber is a bit sticky. We already have three puck movers (Markov, Subban and Kaberle) and neither is really good enough to push one of those guys out (Kaberle might get a lot of grief, but he's still quite good at what he does). We have one two way guy (Gorges) one physical guy (Emelin) and in reality we need another guy like one ofthose two more than we need one of the three here. At the same time it'd be hard to let any of these guys go. Diaz is quite sound in his own end and might be the best out of this lot. Weber just doesn't have enough depth to his game to cut it. St. Denis is hard to judge, but strikes me as a Diaz-lite. I'd rather get a good physical defensemen, consign one of these guys to the press box and ditch the rest if possible.

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