I am a long itme reader of HF BOARDS. I think that we have a great tem this year. WIth the new additions, I beleive our team will be very powerful. We have players who could shoot, who could hit, who could set plays up and guys who can make plays. I would like to know how far everybody thinks we can go this year, and who you think will step up to the plate. I beleive We can go all the way. THE DRIVE FOR 25.
I actually like this team. I think it has the depth and offensive catalysts; combination of veterans, and hungry youngsters; fundamental strength to be a real darkhorse.
The only real question-mark is whether Huet/Aebischer can be a strong point for this club. I like the fact that Gainey has an insurance policy in place with Aebischer there in the event that Huet faulters. And if Huet does faulter, the contract isn't all that long with him and there's a bluechipper in Price waiting in the wings. I also quite like Danis' fundamentals.
So yes, I like this team, I like its overall depth, and I think it's got a bright short and long term future.
With that said, Montreal--like every team in the league right now--has question-marks.
And I'd like to stress the fact that every team in the league has question-marks. Run down the list of 'sure-fire contenders' that every pundit has listed:
Ottawa - goaltending? Question-mark. Tremendous star-power in Redden, Heatley, Spezza, Alfredsson, but what's after that? Inexperienced blueline, lack of secondary scoring depth. Great team, but definite question marks.
Buffalo - losses of three core players hurts any way you slice it: Grier, McKee, Dumont. Pyatt isn't a tremendous loss, but that's one more roster spot that needs filling, and Peters is certainly not an upgrade. Connolly's absolutely key for Buffalo; he is what seperates the Sabres from being a bubble club to a legit playoff threat, in my view, and he's out with serious injury issues. That leaves Buffalo solid but unspectacular in offensive depth, with a star netminder and a D that can move the puck but is terribly exposed down low. Good team, playoff-bound team, but not a contender as things stand right now.
NYR - In my view, the least talked about best club in the East. Borderline star netminder, maturing D with some good vet additions to it. After having their finesse-forwards exposed down the stretch & in the playoffs last year, the team went and got Shanahan, Cullen and Ward; three battle-proven Cup-winning warriors who play specific roles and should play them well (word of caution: Cullen was a monumental failure before Carolina; Ward struggled severely the season following Carolina's last Cup-run) ... nevertheless, these are role players that are very much identifying the Rangers' needs.
Carolina - Cam Ward had a tremendous Cup-run, but was shaky during the reg.season. I personally think he'll be a good netminder--as he's been touted to be for a number of years now--but he's still young, and young players have growing pains. Grahame isn't an ideal back-up by any stretch of the imagination, so there's a bit of a question mark. Add in losses of Cullen, Ward, Stillman (injury), Kaberle (injury), and even the losses of Weight & Recchi, and the team's vastly different from the club we saw down the stretch and in the playoffs. Add to that fact that I strongly subscribe to the theory that teams who go deep into the playoffs tend to struggle the following regular season, and who knows, Carolina may have a tough year ahead of 'em.
Those are the only four teams consistently ranked ahead of Montreal in every analyst's report... I personally do not see any of them as head-and-shoulders above the Canadiens.
Mind you, I don't see them as necessarily being head-and-shoulders above the Bruins, Devils, or Flyers either.