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04-29-2013, 09:10 AM
The Czech Condor
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The problem with spending every available dime that we have on our top 16 forwards and 6 defenders is that it leaves us in a position where the fluidity of the lineup is non-existent. Position battles are non-existent. Giving a guy like Marc Andre Bergeron an unpunched ticket to your Top 6 is absolute suicide. Same for Bobby Sanguinetti. We can't just play the, "well Larose made X dollars, so we can take X dollars from his salary and plug in Y player", in order to make sense of financial moves. In a lot of ways in the NHL, you get what you pay for with the odd exception. If we fill out our bottom six with replacement level players, then a replacement level or below bottom six we will have. While I agree that the money needs to be shuffled, I don't think we have the room to sign anybody that is paid in excess of what Corvo and Larose made individually this season, and we're certainly not going to combine their contracts into one player with perhaps the single reason we got burned this year was depth related anyways.

We have two "swing contracts", on this team. In my opinion of course. Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen. Both being injured limits their marketability but in order to achieve any real roster flexibility, we'd have to jettison one or the other. Ruutu brought a presence when he was in the lineup that this team needed, but it was already too late by that point. Pitkanen is a perfect complimentary defender for a team that has a deeper defense than we do, but throwing 28 minutes a night on the guy because he can physically do it isn't doing us any great favors. Ideally, we could keep Pitkanen and surround him with better defenders and make it work, but not on the budget as it currently stands. I favor a system where you have 5 or 6 guys who are considered "Top Four", than having a system where you have 1 or 2 guys who are considered "Top Pair", and 4 other guys who are your Sanguinetti's, Bergeron's, Corvo's and McBain's of the world. And with as much as I love Harrison, he's not anybody's Top 4 defender. He's a great piece to have for your bottom pair but he's not anything more. And rumors of Justin Faulk's dominance are already greatly exaggerated. Not that he won't get there, but with the rhetoric you'd think he was already playing Norris caliber hockey when he's not. Tim Gleason has regressed from his olympic year form and is now a competent 5th, but when you're as hungry for the "type" of player that Gleason is when he's playing his best hockey there isn't much you can do but wait for him to play better. Hope that the light switches back on. And it does, briefly, but we can't count on it on a night to night basis.

The key thing that this defense is missing is consistency. Who do we have that we know is going to be the guy who plays the exact same way on every shift? Allen was that way and we lost him. Seidenberg was that way and we lost him. Instead, we've opted for the home run swing with players like Pitkanen, Corvo, McBain, Gleason, Harrison, etc. who can all look like top pairing dudes on one night and then look like absolute crap the next. Faulk fits in with that group on age and experience alone, but he won't stay there. What you're left with is a group that has no real identity and it's going to take more than one offseason to change that. People speak to the '06 group and forget that we had a stable full of guys that played a consistent and reliable style. Wesley, Hedican, Ward, and Kaberle were all guys that brought the same level of play. I think consistency may be more important than top end results.

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