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02-05-2007, 10:33 AM
Qui Gon Dave
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Originally Posted by Shabutie View Post
If they continue scoring at the pace that they have been for the last 1-2 months (or so) all 3 should easily reach the 70 point mark (the last to do so is Jason Ward I believe). They seemingly (and I don't get to watch very many bulldog games so maybe Qui can pitch in) form a very good very productive line with Milroy seemingly being the 2nd coming of Ryder (keep in mind that I've only seen him 10 games roughly). Does anyone believe that Gainey will make a move to trade away the more expendable players on the current roster for a few spots for these kids?
AK, MG and DM do indeed form a very good line and have produced enough to save the Dogs on a few occassions. However, Don Lever has recently split them up for no other reason than to spread the scoring out across more than one line. Current lines of favour in Hamilton are (l-r) Kostitsyn-Grabovski-D'agostini and Lemieux-Locke-Milroy. But when things get tough for the Dogs and they need a goal, the Kost-Grabs-Milroy line gets reformed and as witnessed last Friday against Philadelphia, they got the job done. As long as the Dogs are scoring, the trio will be mixed but when the new lines slow down, back to the tried and tested.

As far as the way they are playing, Milroy has played a different game to AK and MG this year. He isn't as skilled as these guys (obviously), but where he has shone is in his consistency. He has been the most consistant Bulldog so far this year and has been solid both ends of the ice while continuing to score at a solid rate. AK and MG on the other hand go through patches. Sometimes they just don't have much of an impact, sometimes they are dangerous but just can't finish and sometimes they go on impressive scoring sprees. Both have improved their games this year although I'm still a little concerned about Grabovskis play with the puck in his own zone. To put it simply, he can be very eratic. He can take the puck behind his own net and beat three opponents before leaving his zone and he can also make so very lax passes. He doesn't always get his head up when making a pass which may be the only downfall to him playing with Kostitsyn. In the last game, I saw Grabs make a play to win the puck on the far boards in his zone and make an instinctual pass to Kostitsyn who was leaving the zone up the middle. I saw him make the exact same play about 5 minutes later only Kostitsyn wasn't in that part of the ice and the pass was picked off. The chemistry they have is fantastic, but Grabs needs to make sure of his instincts a few times at this level before acting on them.

I'm not sure what Milroys future is, especially on a team loaded with forwards. In my opinion, if he wants a spot on the Habs next year, he has to continue his solid play, be a leader and an almost go to guy in the playoffs (Dogs will get there if they keep this form up) and show up at camp next year in even better shape than this year. He turned up this year in the best shape of his career and he is going to have to push hard and win a spot over someone else. I'm not entirely sure where he would fit best on the Habs, although I'd start him on the 4th line as a sort of solid, all round guy to round out a couple of spark plugs to see how he does (although I'd LOVE to see a Begin - Lapierre - Ferland line). He doesn't strike me as a guy who could be put on a typical shut down 3rd line at NHL level and he would have to be seriously impressive to win a scoring line spot, which leaves the 4th line, and he isn't a bang and crash player. IMO, he may be able to win a spot but I just think he would struggle to find a place in Montreals roster unless a number of forwards are moved out the way for him. Then again, maybe management sees something in him or expects further development from him and will give him a shot. Bit early to tell but at this point, I'd be a little suprised to see him make it.

As for the rest of next years team, I think that a lot of that will be decided upon review of Plekanec and Grabovskis seasons. Can Grabovski be a 2nd line centre in the NHL? Can Plekanec be a 3rd line centre in the NHL? If management thinks so, those positions are sorted and quite cheaply too. It also likely means Bonk is gone and that is more money that can be saved for Souray/UFA/RFA raises. If management deems neither Pleks or Grabs ca be a 2nd line centre on a serious contender (which is what they want to become) then that means looking outside the organisation and spending some substantial money. Which could affect Souray being resigned (if that is a possibility) or getting another Dman.

I think that the two of them can be 2nd and 3rd line centres, but whether management shares this view, time will tell. The advantage Grabs should have is playing with Kost on a scoring line. Playing with someone he already knows will give him a chance to concentrate on the other areas of his game in the NHL instead of struggling to form chemistry with new players.

As far as having a guess at lines next year:

(1) - Koivu - Latendresse
Kostitsyn - Grabovski - Kovalev
(2) - Plekanec - Johnson
Begin - Lapierre - Ferland/Streit/someone who can fight

(1) - Likely players being Higgins and Ryder, maybe Pez if he can turn his game round. Although if Ryder doesn't make this spot his own, I don't see him fitting in elsewhere. I think Gainey might prefer to not have the trouble resigning him and save a little money. Higgins could potentially be put on any line and fit in. I think Pez is worth keeping around as he still can improve and be versatile at a cheap price. Carbo mentioned recently that he loves the versatility he gets from having Streit around, with a little more work Pez maybe become the forward equivalent. Could round out a scoring line or help out the third.

(2) - Likely players being Higgins or Perezhogin, maybe a UFA if Pez isn't kept around.

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