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03-10-2014, 08:30 AM
  #339
MrJoshua
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Decatur, AL
Posts: 522
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I consider us to be in year 2 of a rebuild right now. Last year the team picked up Jones in the draft and added a kid with a TON of potential and talent to the blue line. With the trade for Del Zotto I think the defense is set for a few years, and I honestly think they're a couple of years away from being the best defense in the NHL.

Weber-Josi
Ellis/Jones-MDZ
Jones/Ellis-Ekholm
Bartley

Then you have Rinne healthy again in net, with pick-a-prospect as the backup. Hutton, or Mazanec, or sign a cheap free agent with potential. I'm not all that concerned about the backup goalie position. Yes, we saw this year that mediocre goaltending will pretty much kill any playoff hopes of the team, but that's true for most teams and frankly you can't afford to pay one goalie $7m a season and also carry a 1B-level backup. Not in a salary cap world.

So the question marks going into next season are mostly focused around (surprise, surprise) the forwards. After the Legwand trade the current roster looks like this:

Smith-Fisher-Hornqvist
Stalberg-Wilson-Nystrom
Bourque-Cullen-Eaves
Clune-Gaustad-Spaling

Ew. Scoring depth? We have none. So then we have a few interesting prospects, mostly Forsberg, Jarnkrok, Beck and Moser.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that Forsberg and Jarnkrok manage to force their way into the roster next season. That basically fills the roster out since there are already 7 d-men. So the roster would look something like this, assuming all remaining free agents return:

Smith-Fisher-Hornqvist
Stalberg-Wilson-Nystrom
Forsberg-Jarnkrok-Cullen
Eaves-Gaustad-Spaling
Clune-Bourque

Now obviously the actual lines are probably not going to be that. But there is at least the potential for better scoring depth there. Forsberg and Jarnkrok should be better threats to score on the third line than Bourque and Eaves, at any rate. And there's always the possibility that Eaves is let go (I think he's a UFA at the end of this season?) instead of being brought back. That would open up a roster spot for Beck, Moser, or maybe Sissons or another prospect or free agent. Eaves is a pretty redundant roster spot at this point - I don't see him bringing much to the table that can't be covered easily by Bourque or another player already in the system.

Anyway, I guess my point is that right now I think the plan must be to let Forsberg and Jarnkrok develop in the AHL for at least the rest of this year (although I guess I wouldn't be shocked if they got a look toward the last 10 or so games of the season either). Then next season they probably manage to force their way onto the roster. Maybe Eaves or another player is let go to make room for Beck or another prospect. Wilson stays at center. Watson probably keeps developing in the minors with an eye toward coming up as an injury call-up or the following season as the possible third- or fourth-line center. And eventually we see scoring lines of Smith-Wilson-Hornqvist and Forsberg-Jarnkrok-?(possibly a youngster to be drafted this year; maybe a free agent pickup; maybe Nystrom so the fanbase can gnash our collective teeth until they explode). And we should start to see some improvement by late next year, probably missing the playoffs one more time and drafting fairly highly, and then competing for a wild card slot the year after that and starting on an upward trend through Weber's prime years as the youngsters start coming into their own on offense.

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