Okay...I was roasted in this forum 6 games ago when I suggested that there were signs that this team was slipping into the abyss. Now that we have established that the flu was not the cause of this free fall I am interested to hear what this team has going for it moving forward. Unfortunately I see far more negatives with this team than positives.
Ridiculous contracts (cap hits) that are impossible to move and its interesting to see how these contracts rank. There is no rhyme or reason to the contracts Lowe was dolling out over the last couple of years. It really is a testament to his incompetence.
Lets start with Nilsson ( a top notch AHL forward) and his ridiculous contract. I find it incredible that he is the 6th highest paid forward on the team. (...and Lowe thought that Glencross was asking for too much at 1M but it was okay to pay Nilsson 2M.)
It gets worse....Pisani is the 5th highest paid forward on the team at 2.5M.
Other ridiculous contracts include Horcoff at 5.5M (highest paid forward on the team), Moreau at (gasp) 2M (along with Nilsson is the 6th highest paid forward on the team)
On the back end we have Grebeshkov at 3.15M and Staios at 2.7M...money well spent, probably not. They are the 4th and 5th highest paid dmen. Grebs may yet become a consistent player (although he is running out of time) so I'll give Lowe a pass on that contract. Staios on the other hand is a bottom pairing dman who will never out play his contract. Gilbert (4M-3rd highest paid dman) could very well be added to this list but, like Grebs, he could turn his game around yet.
The same could be said for Khabby for the last 2 years of his contract but the jury is still out on that signing.
When you throw in players like O'Sullivan, not a Lowe signing but (based on his NHL histroy) a player who will likely never out perform his contract, and Penner (who has looked good for an 8th of a season so far) this appears to be a team with more bad contracts than good.
Not exactly a position of strength moving forward.
- lack of high end goal scoring talent. There's a reason other teams play their backups against this team. This team doesn't scare anybody offensively.
- Not enough physicality on this team...simply not nearly enough depth in this regard.
- lack of defensive cohesiveness as a team.
The hockey IQ of this team appears to be below average. Too many players either can't or won't buy into a system.
This may have something to do with what appears to be poor veteran leadership from some key players (ie Moreau) then again it may just have something to do with a poor mix of players...or maybe its a little of both.
I happen to think its both. Too many redundant skillsets which is why an overpaid player (Horcoff) is so important to this team.
- very soft defence.
Sam Gagner. I think he is going to be a very good player for this team. He may well be the smartest player on the team.
It may take another couple of years of maturation but he will be the #1 centre on this team.
Gilbert Brule. Still has a ways to go but he looks to be a very well rounded player. His versatility will be very valuable to this team.
Andrew Cogliano. His play has slipped this season but that may be due to his all but useless linemates. However he needs to find a niche and prove the is room for both him and Gagner on this team.
Lubomir Vishnovsky. The best player on the team IMO.
Sheldon Souray. His shot on the PP alone is so very valuable to this team but when you have a butter soft defence his absence on the back end is a huge deal.
Khabby has been slightly above average IMO. He hasn't outright won them a game that I can recall but he seems to give them a chance to win almost every game.
Things yet to be proven....
- the coaching staff. More data is needed to determine if this coaching staff is all that. As of right now the team has so many holes that its hard to get a sense of the job this staff is doing.
- Penner. He certainly hasn't outplayed his contract the first couple of years but so far so good this season. It will be interesting to see what kind of player he is after 60 games. He is not exactly a young player so his time is short.
- Hemsky. He may be as good as he is going to get which is a player on the cusp of getting a point a game. A very good supporting player but maybe not a player to build a team around. He is rapidly running out of racetrack IMO. He may be a player you package up to bring in a franchise player.
Sometimes I see Hemsky as a big part of what is wrong with this team. He just doesn't seem to have the "buy in" that he should have. He should be setting an example for players like Gagner in terms of the commitment level required to be a star player in this League. He has and is falling short.
I would be curious to know what other people consider positives. After 3 years of possibly the worst hockey I have ever seen from this team I am very disillusioned.
I am quite sure I'm not alone.
I got some flack on here after the Detroit game, saying the same things. Team came out flying, were fortunate to pump some stoppable goals past a useless goalie, and then hung on against an opponent that decided to ramp up their game, and completely took over the rest of the game, which the shots indicated. Now, we're playing the same crappola, but no Jimmie Howards in net for us to shoot at. Results are important, but performance is much more important, in that it will ultimately lead to good results. That is kind of what my point was with the rant then, although it may have been too harsh. Now, the chickens have come to roost.
Anyway, to your question...
The comeback of Lubo - has been fantastic.
Dustin Penner - has been the best forward by a mile. And even in games he hasn't scored, it hasn't been from lack of try or chances. He's been great for the most part. I think he gets it now.
Vladdy Smid - I feel vindicated to say I saw this one coming. He's a gamer, and will only get better. I think we'll eventually see some offence out him too.
Khabibulin - way better than I thought he would be. Have to feel sorry for him, what with the team getting outshot and outplayed nearly every game so far. He had a shaky start, but has more than made up for it since. His teammates owe him some big games. Lots of them.
Taylor Chorney - Has gotten better, despite being put in situations he has no business being in. I really think when this team is healthy, it will do him a world of good to go back to the AHL, play a ton in all situations, dominate, and then come back at the trading deadline or next fall.
The rest of them.....well. some either too injured or too sick, or not enough games in to make an appropriate call (Brule, Pisani, Stone), or just flat out bad.
Really? Thats outragous, that is a huge problem haha, he should definately not be the 2nd highest paid goaltender on this team, it be better if nobody was the highest paid player on the team
Ya we need to free up all of our contracts and then from year to year we need to take the salary cap and minus about 3-4 million and divide that number by 23 and give each of the 23 players a year year contract worth that amount. Creates equality in the workplace.
there are far too many people stuck in the cap land.. sure the nilssons the staios are garbage that's being paid too much.. but for the other "overpaid" players we don't really have better replacement and really the UFA route historically doesn't yield to anything better (quality and paycheck wise)..
the fundamental problem with this team is lack of talent.. gagner/cogs were supposed to provide that this year, but so far have not really elevated to the expectations.. however that doesn't mean they won't so i think patience with these guys is key..
the d-corp is a bit messier, i was never high on grebs nor gilbert and am not high on smid, so i think this is the area where works need to be done both for the present and for the future..
*SNIP*Lets start with Nilsson ( a top notch AHL forward) and his ridiculous contract. I find it incredible that he is the 6th highest paid forward on the team. (...and Lowe thought that Glencross was asking for too much at 1M but it was okay to pay Nilsson 2M.).*SNIP*
Glencross was asking for $1.M, not $1M. The Oilers would have given him $1.3M but Glencross was dead set on signing with the Shames.
__________________ "He just ate up Robyn Regehr for dinner, a spectacular play by Hemsky, and Robyn Regehr has got doo doo all over his face" - Rod Phillips call on Hemsky's goal vs the Flames
The best things I could see is the coaching staffs getting to know for sure shaping the team next year. All of passengers are going to be shipped out for more players who committed to the system, to the fans, and to the logo.
Besides young forwards as mentioned, young defense men are only getting better. It takes time to remodel the identity that engraved on players from previous era. Patience will pay off, I hope.