What I really like about this lineup is that it has all of the basic foundations you need to compete for a cup.
1) Size down the middle: Stepan, Anisimov, and Werek are all 6'0 and above, and all three are defensively aware and capable of controlling the puck. Stepan is obviously not a super-physical player, but his game is much better when he is physically involved in the game. Anisimov has a very under-rated physical dimension to his game, and his two-way play is simply phenomenal. Werek is known as a big hitter, and he has the size/style of game to be an effective power forward.
2) Speed on the wings: The combination of Kreider--Stepan--Gaborik should be enough to make anyone drool. Stepan is known for his playmaking ability (although his ability to dangle and score is a very under-rated and under utilized part of his game. His ability to make the outlet pass to guys like Gaborik and Kreider should lead to a lot of easy scoring chances in the future.
When you add in Grachev, Callahan, and Avery to the mix, you have a dangerous amount of speed all over the ice. I feel like Dubinsky is going to develop into an exceptional skater for a guy his size by the time he hits his prime. This team should be filled to the brim with burners by the time our prospects are ready to contribute.
3) Puck control: If you look at the overall size of that group of forwards, you have to be happy with their projected ability to control the puck down low and cycle the puck along the half boards.
4) Outlet passing from the D-men: Del Zotto is only beginning to scratch the surface, Staal is already pretty decent at this, one would think that he'll continue to improve, even if only marginally. Sanguinetti is a good passer, and Gilroy should be able to make up for whatever difficulties he has with his ability to rush the puck. The fact that there is a D-man capable of bringing the puck up ice in all of our projected pairings is exciting.
5)Elite Goaltending--enough said
The most exciting thing about this projected line-up is that we still haven't even begun to add in the players that we will draft in 2010, a draft that seems to have amazing depth and great overall talent. With Gordie Clark running the show you have to think that the Rangers are, for the first time in my lifetime, building toward a contending team that could last a long time.
I like it but you never know how FA (cough Kovalchuk/Frolov cough) will play a role in all of this and some guys have setbacks, and some guys pop up out of nowhere (what if Doyle gets his personal stuff together or Valatenko and Pashian come over).
Also, this year's draft could play a huge role.
If they're gonna miss the Dance I'd love to add a Neidereiter/Johansen/Burmistrov to that mix and Werek can play wing.
Out of all of those I doubt Avery, Christensen, Boyle, Sauer are here in 3 seasons.
True. Not saying you should predict who we will sign, just saying that 1) all these prospects aren't going to devoulp and 2) we aren;t gunna field a lineup only of young/homegrown guys
This is an unrealistic fantasy which many people appear to be obsessed with.
Free agency exists for a reason. Unfortunately, our GM likes to abuse the privilege.
You field a lineup full of homegrown players and that means you have a ******** of rookies coming in each season with few vets around to guide them along the way. The OP has Girardi and Gilroy as our eldest defensemen at the age of 28, that's a disaster right there. Veterans aren't a bad thing, you just need to have the right ones.
It's impossible to predict the 4th line. Could be guys in Hartford or Waiver picks ups or UFAs. The second line is kind of iffy for me. Three years from now will probably be Kreider and Stepan's sophmore seasons. I don't see them being reliably productive in the NHL yet, but hey, who knows.
1st Line - We need 1 or 2 more premier forwards to create the 1st line of a contender. Perhaps one of Dubinsky, Grachev, Stepan, Kreider, 1st 2010 really steps up and takes the role, but with my above depth chart there are a ton of forgotten forward prospects such as Kreider, Hagelin, Horak, Bourque, etc. Such depth in prospects could lead to a trade for an established first liner yet not cripple our organization one bit.
2nd line - In 3 years all 3 of these players should be more acclimated to 2nd line duty in particular and the NHL game in general. Still, the dark horses are abundant as stated above.
3rd line - Basically the gems among forwards in the organization. They should both hit the NHL by 2013-2014 (if the world doesn't end, of course).
4th line - All three guys (maybe even Boyle instead of Dupont) are likely depth players at the NHL level by 2012 or 2013.
Defense - Redden is likely on the books still, but I have him as the 7th D just to be fair. Our left side is very strong in general though. Barring a major collapse by one or more of the top 3 LD listed, we could have our core in place for quite some time. The right side gets a little tricky, though. Rozsy will be gone, though for all of the ire he draws, he is the only RD in the organization fit to log the minutes he does. Girardi may stick around, but he has always been best suited for 2nd or 3rd pair responsibility. Gilroy is still an unknown, though he has played the better part of the season in the bigs, and Sangs/Sauer are complete coin flips (I wear slightly blue-tinted goggles, so I would LIKE to take that statement further into the positive, but can't). I think we need one marquee Defenseman added to the core. I'm not THAT rigid on him being right-handed, but would need to play alongside Staal or Dizzy.
Goal - I'm just checking to see whether you were paying attention or not.
Bottom line is we have an abundance of overall talent in the organization and the future looks bright, but I would like to see that talent level divided among fewer players.
I kind of like the idea of using the third line as an introduction to the NHL for our potential top-six prospects.
For example, when Grachev, Kreider, or Stepan are ready to make the jump, put them on the third line. Let them learn the game without the team depending on them to put up points. Once they prove they can make the jump to the top-six, we should have another prospect or two ready to jump into the NHL on the third line.
Fill in holes in the top six through free-agency and trades if it becomes clear our prospects won't be able to make the jump from the third line.