I agree with the fairly inarguable consensus that our blueline lacks grit and muscle on paper. However, our speed and offensive potential will rival any team. Of course all speed and no muscle makes jack a dull defensive force. Frankly I don't think bringing McKee back adds much grit if he continues his downward spiral. That isn't to say I wouldn't like to see McKee back, but signing him isn't going to alleviate this potential problem. A trade, perhaps involving McKee, perhaps not, is the only way to beef up our defense. We all know how something looks on paper isn't always how it turns out, and we'll just have to see how this unit comes together through the tough opening road trip. Who knows, we may have some guys throwing their bodies around a lot more than you'd expect.
There's another pretty big questionmark that surrounds all our defensemen, sans Zhitnik; they're all either young (and in many cases fairly unproven) or journeymen. On a positive note, look how Fitzpatrick turned out for us last year. The same could very likely happen for Bouchard should he get the chance to play. Like Jim Bob said, with McKee included we have 8 guys for 7 spots. That means we are going to have some very good depth should injuries occur.
Zhitnik - Kalinin
McKee - Tallinder
Delmore - Campbell (too much offense, not enough defense in one pairing?)
Bubble: Patrick, Fitzpatrick, Bouchard
Zhitnik - Kalinin
Tallinder - Campbell
Delmore - Patrick/Fitzpatrick
Bubble: Bouchard, Cullen(maybe?), some youngster if need be
In my opinion our defense is going to surprise a lot of people, especially with better offense to support it. I also think we're going to see a lot more offense coming from the blueline, and not just because of Delmore. That being said, the grit question still worries me a lot. We can't have our young goalies being pushed around. If this unit can't come together and play TOUGH together, a move will have to be made. I have faith that such a move will be made should the need be glaring. Though I also had faith that they'd get Peca signed up .
If that is the case then our abundance at the forward position should give Darcy the ammo to go get one. Throw in McKee with Timmah or Max and you may be able to land some grit on the blue line.
I suggested the following which was well-received by Oilers fans:
For our purposes, we get rid of an extra goaltender, an unsigned defenseman and everybody's whipping boy. I don't want to get rid of Connolly, but Comrie gives us someone from the same draft year who's produced. McKee's play has fallen off the face of the earth. Noronen is the wild card.
Comrie gives us another small center. The original proposal was to deal Briere for Komisarek, but that fell through. At least until Komisarek struggles with the big club, and then everyone will want him dealt. Jim Bob came up with a good suggestion to simply flip Comrie for another defenseman. But Jason Smith addresses several weaknesses: i) we get leadership, ii) a RD defenseman, iii) grit.
Perhaps Comrie could be flipped for Boynton? Problem is the Bruins have lots of forwards already. If so, then:
We still have a glut, because Campbell can certainly play. Fitzpatrick and Patrick you have for depth.