Eastern Conference Finals: Carolina vs Buffalo
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05-16-2006, 11:10 AM
HF Needs Feeny
Join Date: Mar 2002
Originally Posted by
Yes, I think Buffalo and Carolina are both cinderella clubs.
But Carolina has the better chance to reach elite status. The simple reason being: look at Carolina's future. Staal has already proven to be a franchise-type center. This is no real surprise, though. But then there's Williams, who's still young, Ladd, who is a menace out there and has enough hockey sense and ability offensively to be at least decent offensively in addition to being a complete pain to play against. And of course Cole. That's four young tenacious players who combine speed, size, strength, tenacity and skill.
Add Brind'Amour to the mix and you've got a very strong forward-group.
On D, they're weak. I--like everyone else--am fond of Johnson back there. If he comes close to realizing his potential, then they have a legit top-pairing guy.
Ward has quietly built up a strong resume to be a top goalie prospect and has been a legitimate top goalie prospect prior to this season.
I think Carolina will be very good and likely elite given this core, but it should (IMO) take time to get there. Johnson & Ladd are raw and not on the team yet (in Ladd's case: not full-time). Ward will also go through ups and downs. Weight, Stillman, Whitney, Recchi are all stop-gaps up front that won't last long with this team (Recchi, Weight may not even be back next season; Stillman, Whitney wear out their welcome over time).
I don't think Buffalo will even maintain 'very good team' status. The team collectively overachieved at once. As I stated earlier somewhere: the vast majority of their team enjoyed breakthrough career years. Coincidentally (or not): the vast majority of their team is in contract years (or will be UFAs next year). Buffalo isn't going to be able to resign them all. Nor will all of their players maintain their current play; due to a combination of a) playing over their heads currently; b) losing key components to their club due to massive amount of free agents; c) lack of a real cornerstone player for their team.
This is just my speculative take on them, though. I've been wrong often before. I remain a disbeliever until a team has grown the slower way.
If we take a look at teams who have succeeded over a sustained period of time, they'll have generally an identifiable core. What's Buffalo's identifiable core?
10-year span look at the legitimate elite teams:
Colorado - Sakic, Forsberg, Roy (Foote)
Detroit - Yzerman, Lidstrom
NJ - Brodeur, Stevens, Niedermayer
Dallas - Modano, Zubov (Hatcher, Belfour)
Then excellent character/role players surrounded those players (the Lehtinens, Drapers, McCartys, Lemieuxs, Daneykos, Holiks)
Carolina can say they have an identified core (led by Staal, Cole, potentially Johnson & Ward, and have proven in '02 and '06 to have the character players to support those types).
What has Buffalo proven in that regard?
I don't think Briere or Dumont are on that level. Nor McKee.
Vanek, to me, doesn't seem to be that good. Roy & Drury are integral pieces to the puzzle, but not the 'key' guy.
BTW, Mcphee and I had a nice discussion on this topic on the 'Canes board, after Game Four against the Devils. McPhee is a bit more optimistic about Carolina's chances to sustain this elite-level of play (and swayed me a bit, clearly) ... though I maintain this will take growing pains and the team will not yet be elite until they get Ladd, Johnson & Ward playing up to their potential. But I see all three of them as bluechippers.
Also note: discussing the 'Canes potentially being a cinderella club on the 'Canes board is not a good idea.
You make some very valid points that I cannot argue with.
I just think that the sabres are set for the new NHL the right way. If the game keeps being called the way it is, it will always be an advantage for the speedier, skilled teams.
Correct, the Sabres dont have that blue chip core to build around but I think they have the overall team depth to offset that issue.
Your examples of teams built around core players are all multiple cup winners (almost dynasties) other than dallas. The Sabres have a decent shot at winning the cup this year but that does not mean that I believe they will win the cup as often as these teams did. But I do believe they will cause havoc for alot of teams because Buffalo has the proper identity of speed an tenacity which will take you a long way in this current system. You can tell by the moves that management has made that this is the identity they want and they will do their best to keep their current core.
Which brings me to my next point. You are right that the Sabres will have a tough time maintaining this core with all the free agents. But the sabres should have alot of space in the cap with the young team and cheap salaries they have assembled.
But I think the Sabres have enough room to keep the elite players in their core like Briere, Afinogenov, and McKee. As long as the Sabres build around this core with speed and tenacity, they should be fine IMO
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