Agreed, but last season was also historically bad for most of the team.
Staal's 70 points in 82 games matches a post-lockout low, and he had by far the worst start to a season he's ever had which is saying something considering he's a notoriously slow starter to begin with.
Skinner missed a good chunk of the season due to injury after a hot start and it took a while after returning for him to get back to being Skinner.
Jokinen's 46 points are the lowest of any season which he's spent with one team.
Ruutu likewise had the worst season he's ever had in one location, minus that season in Chicago where he only played about a dozen games due to injury.
Pitkanen missed over half the season with an injury.
So that's basically 5 of the Canes top 7 players (Ward, Sutter being the other two) from last year that had seasons well below their typical level of play.
If those 5 players have even average seasons for them in terms of performance this team is nowhere near as bad as it was last year. Trade out Sutter who's a top shutdown center with what's so far been limited offense for a top shutdown center with vastly superior offense, and add Semin for free and it's a much improved team. The only area that it arguably got worse in was on D (Corvo for Allen), but that's even mitigated by the fact that Pitkanen shouldn't be expected to miss anywhere close to 52 games next season.
You make a good point and I'm slightly more optimistic because of it, but I also have to say that just because injuries and bad luck occurred last year does not mean that this season will be any different. We just won't know until we're in the middle of it. (sorry if that's a little bit of an obvious point)
That being said, I agree that in a world where everyone does what they should, Staal is point per game, Jokinen gets 60 points, Skinner scores 30 goals easily, Pitkanen gets an assist every other game, and Semin gets back to where he was.
Yep, that is what I meant. We downgraded slightly at defense, and to me loss of Sutter is very significant, so I'd say we only truly added one piece (Jordan Staal is in a very high echelon as a possession player), Sutter and Semin are a wipe, and Corvo is a slight downgrade.
All in all...we're a moderately improved team with a coach that everybody raved about, and a few young players whose full potential is unknown. To me, that means playoffs, but no SE division championship.
Also, people are forgetting that we were a bad team last year. It remains to be seen how much *less bad* we are. You can have star players on bad teams, so Staal and Semin aren't any guarantee of success.
The loss of Sutter is offset by the addition of Staal. He does everything Sutter does, but better. Losing Sutter is an afterthought.
A 40 goal scorer and a guy who scored more than 20 once in his career is not a wipe. Even in Semin's worst year he outscored Sutter by a fair bit.
Allen to Corvo is a downgrade, I'll give you that, but let's not pretend like Allen was God's gift to hockey here. He's been pretty overrated on this board all offseason, mostly because he played passable defense on a team full of failure. In a dry market he only netted a 500k raise from a playoff team. Jason Garrison was offered nearly 2M more, and he's awful.
Furthermore, they weren't *that* bad last year. It was their inability to be clutch that did them in. We all know about the OT record. I think that changes significantly next season.