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remkin

The Case for More Veteran Offensive Help Next Year

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Canes website, By Paul Branecky on JR:

He’s also expecting to steer clear of the initial free-agent frenzy in July.

”Sometimes a very useful player falls into September that ended up not going where they wanted or don’t get the deal that they want,” he said. “We’ll keep our eyes open there, but we’re not going to look at free agents in the early going.”

I hope this is just posturing, but this sounds like JR is planning on making up the team from existing pieces. Oh, he admits he might add a "useful" player that slips through to September, but notes that that happens sometimes.

JR, listen, this is THE time to add a solid free agent. Especially if you can move the utterly unproductive Cole and Sammy, you will have shed tons of salary. You can afford to get that one guy to bring it all together up front. But must that guy always be a cast off that slips the cracks? Don't get me wrong, in general that approach has served us pretty well. But this year is the exception to the rule. Once the young guys, including our new pick really round out in future years, then we will have a solid young team that you can add your value pickups to round out. Now we have a bunch of guys with potential and only ONE forward with proven year after year productivity.

Don't let next year hang on a wish and a prayer. This team needs at least one if not two more forwards that we can count on to get the puck in the net, or next year could be a long one.

Hi, Remkin.  I agree with what you're saying but what if Paul Branecky is absolutely right about everything.  Here's 3 questions:

1.  What if JR steers clear of all of the bigtime free agents available in July?  

2.  Imagine if the earliest Cole and Samsonov could be moved would be at the trade deadline in 2011. 

3.  What if there wouldn't be a bunch of roster spots available for the young talent because there are a lot of vets on 1-way's.

Before you answer those questions, let me give you some of the options that the 'Canes may be considering .....

JR has generally steered away from expensive free agents.  You know that.  Ray Whitney was available coming out of the lockout,

because Detroit had to cut him loose in order to fit under the cap.  Cory Stillman's availability was somewhat similar.  He wasn't

subject to a buyout, tho, like Whitney was.  Anyway, I believe those were the last "impact" free agents that management brought in.

Aaron Ward was put on waivers early last season, with no takers, because of his salary.  Most teams couldn't handle picking him

up because of being close to the cap.  Yet, Ward was traded at the deadline because Anaheim was only responsible for 1/4 of his

salary.  Don't you think something similar will, or could, happen with Cole and Samsonov?

And the youth movement.  I'm not going to say it's going to get short-circuited, but when you have 9, and as many as 12 vets

under contract for next season, it doesn't leave much icetime.  Staal, Sutter, Ruutu, Jokinen, Samsonov, Cole, LaRose, Dwyer

and Kostopoulos all figure to be on the team.  Add in perhaps Whitney, maybe Brind'Amour, and possibly Tlusty (his entry level

contract has expired and he will have to pass through waivers - unless it is as an emergency recall).  That may be the 12 forwards.

In addition to drafting well, then comes the development part of it.  Most of the young guns may be better served learning their

craft or trade in Charlotte for most of the year.  Remember, Cole, Samsonov, LaRose and (until he's extended) Jokinen will be

leaving a year from now.  The extra icetime they'll get in the AHL now may help better prepare them to step into the lineup later.

On defense, you have Pitkanen, McBain and Gleason signed.  Picard and Carson will be qualified and likely sign 2-year deals.

Plus, the rumored return of Babchuk.  Then there's Rodney and Harrison who could fiight it out for #7 spot or play in Charlotte.

All of these guys will probably make similar salaries as they made this year, which should please Mr. Karmanos. 

By the way, if Rod Brind'Amour retires the 'Canes don't have to pay his $3m salary, but his $3.6m cap hit DOES still count. 

If he were traded, both his salary and cap hit go away.  So, flexibility-wise for JR, that would be good.

Having said all this, and knowing that a lot of people would like to see Matt Cullen return (altho I seriously doubt a $2.5 to 3m

3rd line center is in the cards) .... would it really bother you if some of this stuff occurred?  (Remembering that the group I just

mentioned was on a 100-point pace over the last half of the season).

Basically, the only problem some people have with the Hurricanes is that a couple of guys were paid salaries to play at a high

level and they haven't produced to that level.  And sometimes that takes a little time to straighten out.

I don't know.  What do you think?

  

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We can twist this whole idea around, but the subject of this whole thread seems to go against everything JR has said the team will be and what he plans on doing going forward.  I just don't see this top line winger acquisition happening...(its kind of a a pipe dream or wishful thinking).....at least not for this upcoming season.  The biggest arguments being:

1.  Paraphrasing JR.....no free agent bonanza in July, maybe just maybe in September, but only if its a bargain or a project.  We are going cheap this year folks, Pete and I need to make a few bucks.

2.  The defense needs rebuilding (sigh..again).  We are in dire need of a top-4 D man that can play big minutes now.  That's 3-4 million right there unless we pick someone in the draft that can play in that role now or we decide to throw in the towel and play Babchuk (or Pothier) there and hope for the best.  But we need a shut down guy, Babchuk doesn't fill that role. 

3.  Contracts or cap hits that will be hard to get rid of in the short term.  Yes, Cole and Sammy.  Throw in Brind'amour as well, even if he is bought out.  Don't see him retiring. 

4.  Got to figure out how to play the prospects.  Right now we have Jokinen, Staal, Cole, Sutter, Ruutu, Larose, Sammy, KStop, and Brindy under contract.  That leaves only 3 spots up front.  We sign Ray and that's only 2.  If Dwyer figures to make the team centering the fourth line that leaves only one spot. 

5.  It may take another year.  My bet is here. Status quo with respect to the current contracts at least until the trade deadline.  If we do make a move in free agency, we will be shedding salary and opening up spots for the young guns.  I'm thinking JR is looking for that one guy we all ready have (or will draft) to progress and fill Rays role.  That guy may be Ray in the short term.

So, no move.  The bright spot is we can expect to be reminded all season why we need a top-line winger. biggrin.gif

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I appreciate the well thought out and well written responses.

I have agreed that it sounds (again) like JR is not going for any major free agents (though he may be posturing). I'm just making the case that this team will risk being below average next year then. If we are going to slouch through a low period and take a couple of years getting better draft picks as part of our long term plan...well I frankly don't like it.

Again, this thread was not started specifically to predict what could happen, but to make a case for what we think should happen.

To me everything does come down to making space. Making salary space and roster space. To me that means we have to move Cole and Sammy, not sign Whitney and obviously buy out Brindy.

On the Cole and Sammy thing, I don't know. I would be willing to trade them for prospects or picks if it could be done. Maybe not. If not, then we certainly can't sign Whitney if we want to let some of the kids get up here.

I guess the bottom line for me is that our current core of forwards is suspiciously weak in terms of a few guys who can be counted on to score in that 20-30 goal range. Other than Staal everyone has an asterisk by their name.

Ruutu:    injury prone, only broken 20 goals twice in career

Cole:      see Ruutu on injuries, never a decent playmaker, now can't score goals either, hands of stone, not the same post injury.

Sammy:  mostly sizzle, not much steak, had a nice run on arrival, but last year flat out non productive.

LaRose:  I still believe, but so far has just had that one magical year/ also not a playmaker.

Jussi:      what a year, and coming off a strong playoffs, I really do think we have a guy here we can count on, but again last year was an anomaly.

Whitney: has been what I'm looking for his entire Canes career, but age will likely dampen his effectiveness, and not even under contract.

Sutter:     love him. ahead of schedule. Should build on it, but ahead of schedule not proven over the long haul. Not a playmaker. Still young.

                could regress.

Kosto:     very nice player, nice year, played all 82 games: 8 goals.

I like Sutter and Jussi to bring it again. I like Ruutu to have a good year, and I think LaRose's year of two years ago was not a fluke. But none of these has much track record, and after that it really drops off. I don't expect anything from Cole or Sammy, and I think father time will catch Whtiney next year.

Plus all of that leaves little room for the Boychuk, Bowman, Tlusty's, etc.

It may be impossible to move Cole and Sammy pre-season. Maybe as long as the team doesn't fall into a pit like last year, even if we're struggling, but not like the free fall of last year, a mid-season move can be made. Maybe JR finds a guy late in preseason that fills the need. I would just like to see more youth on the third line and at least one more vet on the top line. Just what I'd like to see. That and some playoff hockey. Oh and the All Star game.

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Well, I'm more of a defensive guy first.  We've struggled (since the Cup) to keep pucks out of the net and seem to be in rebuild\retool mode just about every year on the back end.  That's why I think JR should go defense with the first pick.  We have the opportunity to solidify our top 4 for years to come with the talent that should be available with the 7th pick.   

While I agree completely with the case being made for more offensive scoring depth, I think it will take another year to get into position to shed some of the aforementioned salaries to even be in position financially to make that kind of move.  In the meantime, hopefully some of our homegrown talent will develop further and be ready to fill some of those voids and provide those goals we are lacking in the top 6.  That's the way its supposed to work, right?

So, talking about what should be done, it doesn't matter how many goals you score if your own net is full of pucks.  Great thread.

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Well, I'm more of a defensive guy first.  We've struggled (since the Cup) to keep pucks out of the net and seem to be in rebuild\retool mode just about every year on the back end.  That's why I think JR should go defense with the first pick.  We have the opportunity to solidify our top 4 for years to come with the talent that should be available with the 7th pick.  With the emergence of guys like Carson we certainly have the talent in the system to fill out the bottom 3 slots. 

While I agree completely with the case being made for more offensive scoring depth, I think it will take another year to get into position to shed some of the aforementioned salaries to even be in position financially to make that kind of move.  In the meantime, hopefully some of our homegrown talent will develop further and be ready to fill some of those voids and provide those goals we are lacking in the top 6.  That's the way its supposed to work, right?

So, talking about what should be done, it doesn't matter how many goals you score if your own net is full of pucks.  Great thread.

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Well, I'm more of a defensive guy first.  We've struggled (since the Cup) to keep pucks out of the net and seem to be in rebuild\retool mode just about every year on the back end.  That's why I think JR should go defense with the first pick.  We have the opportunity to solidify our top 4 for years to come with the talent that should be available with the 7th pick.   

While I agree completely with the case being made for more offensive scoring depth, I think it will take another year to get into position to shed some of the aforementioned salaries to even be in position financially to make that kind of move.  In the meantime, hopefully some of our homegrown talent will develop further and be ready to fill some of those voids and provide those goals we are lacking in the top 6.  That's the way its supposed to work, right?

So, talking about what should be done, it doesn't matter how many goals you score if your own net is full of pucks.  Great thread.

I actually don't disagree. If we were picking #1 or #2, I think we'd be nuts not to pick a future elite scoring, playmaking star forward. At #7 though, it seems likely that the best player by a few notches might be a defenseman. In that case, we should pick that person, unless we can move up somehow. The other thing is that unless JR actually does clean house with respect to Cole/Sammy/Brindy/Whitney, there will be less spots for a top offensive guy to play right away up front.

I also don't disagree with the idea of building a sound defense first. Probably is best, but...

I am biased toward offense for two reasons. One, that's how we won the cup. The team that actually won the cup (and deserved it) was loaded with scorers, and a defense by committee. Two, high flying offenses are simply more fun for most fans to watch. I'm sure hockey purists may like a tight checking 2-0 game, but most like a wide open up and down 7-5 game filled with amazing offensive "did you see that?" moves. Just imagine if Staal had a great play maker on his line like say, the Stillman of 06. He might even get 100 points. That worked out pretty well once. It would sure be fun to watch.

So my dream, I guess is to beef up the top line and then use a bunch of kids on the 3rd line. The thing is, we could still pick a dman with our first round pick, then pick up that guy for the first line as a FA. Or maybe not, but it would be far better than clogging up all three lines with dead wood.

It will be interesting to see how JR actually does transition this team over the next two years. I would say conventional wisdom is that he does what he seems to be saying and lays low early in free agency signing and tries to work around the edges of the basic team that is here. Trying to find a value pick up. But if he keeps Cole/Sammy/Whitney all it will cause a problem finding room for Boychuk, Tlusty, etc. other than injuries. It will also create a bit of a dilemma. If those guys all do fairly well, it might be tempting to keep them. If they all do poorly they will have no trade value and maybe not even waiver pickup value and could become even deader weight. If we can't move Cole or Sammy then we can't resign an elderly Whitney.

So, I guess for me, even if we don't get that top winger. Find a way to move Cole/Sammy early if possible. Resign Cullen. One year for Whitney. Then, if we manage to stay in it, keep some cap space for a first line rental late in the season.

It may not be doable, but if JR can find another Stillman or Whitney of old and get Cullen back, while somehow losing Cole/Sammy and even letting Whitney walk, this team could really rock immediately and still have room for the kids, and still pick a defenseman with our top pick.

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Don't forget that defense-men can score too.  If McBain is the real deal next year, and then maybe we bring back Babchuk or another scoring defense-man, well right there is a good chunk of your missing 30 - 40 goals we lose from Cullen and Whitney leaving.

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Does anyone think we could be competitive in the first half of next season  bringing only the veterans we now have signed? I think that would mean Whitney, Pothier and Harrison would be gone.  Of course we should have a healthy Ruutu and  it would probable mean Babchuk is back.

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[quote name='remkin wrote:


coastal_caniac']

Well, I'm more of a defensive guy first.  We've struggled (since the Cup) to keep pucks out of the net and seem to be in rebuild\retool mode just about every year on the back end.  That's why I think JR should go defense with the first pick.  We have the opportunity to solidify our top 4 for years to come with the talent that should be available with the 7th pick.   

While I agree completely with the case being made for more offensive scoring depth, I think it will take another year to get into position to shed some of the aforementioned salaries to even be in position financially to make that kind of move.  In the meantime, hopefully some of our homegrown talent will develop further and be ready to fill some of those voids and provide those goals we are lacking in the top 6.  That's the way its supposed to work, right?

So, talking about what should be done, it doesn't matter how many goals you score if your own net is full of pucks.  Great thread.

I am biased toward offense for two reasons. One, that's how we won the cup. The team that actually won the cup (and deserved it) was loaded with scorers, and a defense by committee. Two, high flying offenses are simply more fun for most fans to watch. I'm sure hockey purists may like a tight checking 2-0 game, but most like a wide open up and down 7-5 game filled with amazing offensive "did you see that?" moves. Just imagine if Staal had a great play maker on his line like say, the Stillman of 06. He might even get 100 points. That worked out pretty well once. It would sure be fun to watch.

The only thing I might mention here is that I'm certainly not a proponent of a system like New Jersey tries to roll out.  IMO, in today's game a good, solid defense allows you to really run and gun up front, slide up your puck moving D-men quickly into the play to hold the zone, while your shut down guys are dependable enough to slow down the other team as they transition the other way.  In other words, defense CAN create offense, so let's not sell short the contributions from the blue line in putting up points.  

So, I think we all agree alot will hinge on what JR does in the draft, and what we can do to free up some cap space this summer.   

  

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Which do you take care of first? Offense? Defense? I'd say offense, which is amazing coming from me. Why?

...because we HAVE to fix the PP! If you add on offense, it should be someone who can handle the puck. Not that we'd get a player of that magnitude, but I'm thinking handle as in Gomez or St. Louis. The Cane's PP has perimeter puck movement, and the goalie has a clear look at whats coming. It stinks! The Caps excel at horizontal (and quick) movement on the PP. I know, we don't have their talent.

It has to start somewhere and this is a glaring weakness on this team. Fix this one thing, and the picture gets radically better immediately.

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Which do you take care of first? Offense? Defense? I'd say offense, which is amazing coming from me. Why?

...because we HAVE to fix the PP! If you add on offense, it should be someone who can handle the puck. Not that we'd get a player of that magnitude, but I'm thinking handle as in Gomez or St. Louis. The Cane's PP has perimeter puck movement, and the goalie has a clear look at whats coming. It stinks! The Caps excel at horizontal (and quick) movement on the PP. I know, we don't have their talent.

It has to start somewhere and this is a glaring weakness on this team. Fix this one thing, and the picture gets radically better immediately.

Your right about the Power Play. We have to fix it. But I think we take care of Defense first. If Babs comes back it sure gives us a threat from the point and McBain seems to have an uncanny ability to put pucks on net at the right time. That should open up the ice on the PP for our forwards. But if we can get Gomez or St Louis I'm all for it. I just don't think it will happen. But I could be and hope I'm wrong.

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....
But if we can get Gomez or St Louis I'm all for it. I just don't think it will happen. But I could be and hope I'm wrong.

Just using them as examples of two guys that impress on the PP, control the puck and therefore hold the offensive zone with the man advantage.  We don't have anyone like that, with Whitney coming closest.  Sammy has skills, but is more of a liability (weak in 1v1 battles) and not the answer.  Young Brindy was that type, but not now.

  

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[quote name='Manwolf wrote:


OBXer']
....
But if we can get Gomez or St Louis I'm all for it. I just don't think it will happen. But I could be and hope I'm wrong.

Just using them as examples of two guys that impress on the PP, control the puck and therefore hold the offensive zone with the man advantage.  We don't have anyone like that, with Whitney coming closest.  Sammy has skills, but is more of a liability (weak in 1v1 battles) and not the answer.  Young Brindy was that type, but not now. 

What was it somebody said that Sammy has "Happy Hands"  He can open up ice but over stick handles and can lose the puck. When he is skating well

he can find the open ice in front of the net and still has a good wrist shot.   I have listened to JR and read the posts here with great interest but can't quite figure out where we are going this year.  I just don't think we are going to spend  very much in the FA market this summer to get that veteran winger.

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well i have very little optimism about this team next season.

I would love for the team to look like this

FA-Staal-Whitney

Ruutu-Sutter-Jokinen

Tlusty-FA-Boychuk

Checker-Kstop-Larose

Pitkanen-Gleason

McBain-Hamhuis

Babchuk-Checker

But I see it looking like this

Jokinen-Staal-Cole

Ruutu-Sutter-Samsonov

Tlusty-Boychuk-Checker

Kstop-Brindy-Larose

Pitkanen-Gleason

McBain-Babchuk

Checker-Checker

I dont see Brindy retiring.  It just doesnt make much sense for a professional athlete to give up a pretty sizable contract.  Yes he is a team guy but he needs to look out for him self.  That 3 mil will be useful later down the road in life. 

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But I see it looking like this

Jokinen-Staal-Cole

Ruutu-Sutter-Samsonov

Tlusty-Boychuk-Checker

Kstop-Brindy-Larose

I dont see Brindy retiring.  It just doesnt make much sense for a professional athlete to give up a pretty sizable contract.  Yes he is a team guy but he needs to look out for him self.  That 3 mil will be useful later down the road in life. 

I like the line up you would like to see. 

I have pulled out the one you think you will see because it makes my point. You may well be right, but that line up will struggle to stay in the race long enough to make the needed changes. 

1. Brindy. By next year he will actually cause damage on any line including the 4th. That line should be tight checking and cycling. That requires strength along the boards: Brind'Amour's greatest weakness. He is so far over the hill that to play as a pathetic caricature of his former self would be embarrassing both for him and the team. This role would be well filled cheaply by Samson.  

2. Cole on the first line. OMG. LOL. Am I using these right? That would be the antithesis of what we need. What can I say except the idea that Cole helps Staal is fallacious. The occasional bull rush by Cole does little for Staal.  Staal needs a skilled playmaker a la the old Stillman. Cole has never been that, and is far from it now. COLE PLAYED IN 40 GAMES AND AMASSED 5 ASSISTS. Five? Five. Five? Lord help us if he is our top winger. Even a 38 year old Whitney would be better.

3. Sammy on the second line. Man did I love Sammy when he first came up. Boy did he drop off the face of the Earth. Still has the occasional razzel-dazzel and one wonders if he could have a nice little run, but he is the definition of unreliable, mostly flash. Unlike others who think Cole will regain form, I think Sammy could still be an effective third liner. But second line? A big stretch. 

4. Checker on the third line. Not unreasonable, but we have so many third line players that it seems like a waste.

5. Boychuk at center. Asking a guy who is still trying to find his NHL game at his natural position to play a harder position just makes no sense. At least Sutter was a center from way back. Points out how we have a glut of wingers. Also this, and #4 suggest the value of Cullen.

6. I am not vitally opposed to LaRose on the 4th. But I would be inclined to give him another shot on the second or third line to see if he can find that scoring touch again. Oddly of Sammy, Cole, and LaRose, LaRose is the one I think most likely to challenge 20 goals next year.

So, I completely agree with the line up you'd like to see. I think that would be extremely competitive from the get go. If we end up getting the line up (above) that you fear seeing, I would predict badness.

Please, no.

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1. Yes it makes sense for the team for him to leave. But would you if you know you have a 3 mil contract waiting on you? Most athletes and people like money that can set them up later in life.

2. I dont like cole on the 1st line either but where are we going to put him? We dont know if Whitney will come back.

3. I also dont like this but I think the 3rd line will be young guys only.

4. We have had so many 3rd line and 6th Dmen for a long time.

5. who else we have to plug in here. He is the most experience checker we have at the center position

6. I'd would prefer larose anywhere else but if we put sammy, brindy, and kstop on the 4th line and move Larose up that will have to be the highest paid 4th line in the nhl.

I understand the criticism of my post but what other choice we have?

If we get a winger in the draft we could see this

Jokinen-Staal-Boychuk?

Larose?-Sutter-Cole (do we really want to hurt Sutter by putting cole on his line)

Draft-Ruutu?-Tlusty/checker

Samsonov-Brindy-Kstop

Ok so the question marks are exactly that. I dont like putting Ruutu in the 3rd line center guy but we dont have much of an option at 3rd line center unless we make larose-ruutu-cole the 3rd line and just make them the bruising checking line. draft-Sutter-Tlusty/checker up to the 2nd line. A lot of question marks here with how the lines will play out.

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1. Yes it makes sense for the team for him to leave. But would you if you know you have a 3 mil contract waiting on you? Most athletes and people like money that can set them up later in life.

2. I dont like cole on the 1st line either but where are we going to put him? We dont know if Whitney will come back.

3. I also dont like this but I think the 3rd line will be young guys only.

4. We have had so many 3rd line and 6th Dmen for a long time.

5. who else we have to plug in here. He is the most experience checker we have at the center position

6. I'd would prefer larose anywhere else but if we put sammy, brindy, and kstop on the 4th line and move Larose up that will have to be the highest paid 4th line in the nhl.

I understand the criticism of my post but what other choice we have?

I wasn't really trying to criticize your post. In general I really like the line up you said you wanted to see. I probably don't resign Whitney, but otherwise I think you're right on, and I wouldn't cry if Whitney signs a one year deal. I think we agree on what ought to happen.

I do have a mild criticism of your 6 point defense of the status quo though. I think your attempt to defend the status quo actually reinforces that there isn't much to defend it. How reassuring that we are moving confidently to a better team are these types of rebuttals?

1. Yes it's best for the team, but he'll want the money.
2. I don't like it either, but what else do we do with him?
3. I also don't like this but...
4. Yes, we have a lot of third line forwards, but we have for a long time.
5. Who else do we have to plug in?
6. I'd prefer him anywhere else but....

I think you are right about what we ought to do, and the logic behind not doing it is so weak that it makes the case even stronger for doing it.

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I understand what you are saying. Yes I have zero reasons to back up why there cant be changes. Unfortunately, I am not the guy who knows all the ins and outs about the organization like those in the management office. I hope to be there one day as I am currently getting my sports management masters but not now.

To me the only things that are stopping things from changing:

1. We are obligated to pay Brindy unless he retires

2. Who would really want Samsonov or Cole? That is unless we trade with a team that needs to clear salary and we take on of their top salary guys

3. When is the last time JR spent over 3 mil on a FA?

4. Why if JR let all those cheaper 2nd line D men escape last season why would he go after one this season?

5. Does this team really need to get older? That will really only be the only guys left in September.

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....I probably don't resign Whitney, ....
This is the one thing I don't agree with.  I completely respect your opinion, and the stats you've provided, 2nd half performance evaluation, etc.

I think he still has enough and makes a good winger for Staal.  He's a great character guy for the young players as the team transitions.  I'd also re-sign Cullen to fill the hole at center (3rd line, not 2nd), and put Jussi with Staal and Whitney.  I still can't for the life of me figure out why Mo didn't put Jussi back with them when Sutter missed a few games and Jussi was moved to fill the gap.

The uncertainty with the young players would lead me to some stability as the transition happens.  Anyone over 30 is on a short leash until only the 2011 trade deadline - including Whitney and Cullen if they return.  By then we'll know who can play a competitive, full season.

As most have said, Brindy, Cole and Sammy are not in the picture - and I agree.

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[quote name='Manwolf wrote:


remkin'] ....I probably don't resign Whitney, ....

This is the one thing I don't agree with.  I completely respect your opinion, and the stats you've provided, 2nd half performance evaluation, etc.

I think he still has enough and makes a good winger for Staal.  He's a great character guy for the young players as the team transitions.  I'd also re-sign Cullen to fill the hole at center (3rd line, not 2nd), and put Jussi with Staal and Whitney.  I still can't for the life of me figure out why Mo didn't put Jussi back with them when Sutter missed a few games and Jussi was moved to fill the gap.

The uncertainty with the young players would lead me to some stability as the transition happens.  Anyone over 30 is on a short leash until only the 2011 trade deadline - including Whitney and Cullen if they return.  By then we'll know who can play a competitive, full season.

As most have said, Brindy, Cole and Sammy are not in the picture - and I agree.I'm really on the fence on Whitney. He's always been a favorite of mine. I guy who puts up serious points year in and year out. Exactly the kind of guy we really need right now. If only he were a bit younger.

I have three issues with him returning.

1. It's age. It simply has to catch up to him. Can he still produce one more year? If we can get second line stats out of him then yes, but there is a strong chance that he fades next year. And if he fades at the end of the year it might be even worse. A Whitney any younger than 38, I take him in a heartbeat.

2. It's money. I don't know what kind of salary he's looking for, but if it's a lot, that is money that could be spent on a younger guy. How nice would it be to have Brind'Amour's $3million to work with?

3. Where does he play? I just can't see slating him on the top line with Staal. Yes, he has the skill, but the age thing. Brind'Amour still has skill also. Second line. Yes if he can produce and keep up on this line, but that could be a stretch if age hits him. Third line: Absolutely. I have little doubt that even a aging Whitney would make sense on the third line, but a: will he take third line money? b: that's where I see us playing our kids.

So ultimately with Cole/Sammy/Whitney we still need a third line center and we still have no place to play our prospect wingers.

Despite all of that, and even at his age, if it came down to picking one guy for one year of Cole/Sammy/Whitney, I would take Whitney. Of course the fact that Cole and Sammy are under contract and may be tough to trade figures in.

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I understand what you are saying. Yes I have zero reasons to back up why there cant be changes. Unfortunately, I am not the guy who knows all the ins and outs about the organization like those in the management office. I hope to be there one day as I am currently getting my sports management masters but not now.

To me the only things that are stopping things from changing:

1. We are obligated to pay Brindy unless he retires

2. Who would really want Samsonov or Cole? That is unless we trade with a team that needs to clear salary and we take on of their top salary guys

3. When is the last time JR spent over 3 mil on a FA?

4. Why if JR let all those cheaper 2nd line D men escape last season why would he go after one this season?

5. Does this team really need to get older? That will really only be the only guys left in September.

I agree with all of your points. There is definitely a melding of what we would do (I think you agree with me on what we would like to see happen) and what JR tends to do and seems to have hinted at, and might be predicted to actually do. I'm saying despite JR's hesitancy to spend $3-4 million on a free agent, he should if at all possible. JR did mention that he got some interest at the deadline in guys who were not facing free agency. I can only hope that Cole and Sammy's names came up.

My plan may not be doable. Cole and Sammy would have to be movable and they simply may not even fetch a broken stick in return. I would probably make that trade to offload their salaries.

But my plan would be to move out all veterans who can not be relied upon for points. Cole, Sammy, and Brind'Amour clearly fit this. Whitney does not, but might at he moves closer to his 40's.

So my plan would not see us get older, in fact we would get considerably younger.

Anyway, that's what I would like to see.

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Well as I pointed out I think the only way to move Cole or Samsonov is take on salary. I dont know that JK wants to add salary. But if they rare case that JK would allow it to happen (could I guess if Brindy retires). I would definitely trade down with ANA to add another 1st rounder. I would then move Cole, a 1st rounder, and O prospect (samson, lindstrom or terry) for Patrick Kane. The canes will have more than enough cap space and Chicago will need to free space up to keep the young guys together. Chicago would free up 3.25 mil of cap space while adding a winger. I would then use the other 1st rounder to get a 3rd line center or D man

Lines could look like this

Boychuk-Staal-Kane

Ruutu-Sutter-Jokinen

Tlusty/Osala-Dalpe/Draft-Bowman/Larose

Larose/Samsonov-Dwyer/checker- Kstop

Pitkanen-Gleason

Babchuk-McBain

Draft-Carson/checker

These lines are going off of the recent article on ch.com. If Brindy retires and Cole is in the trade we actually be the 250k in salary. Yes Brindy's will still hit the cap but I dont think we will ever go close to the cap so that is no issue. Chicago already has 57.5 mil lined up in salary next season and they have plenty of holes on O and D. No one will want to pay Campbell's salary so Chicago will have to trade someone they dont necessary want to. On top of over 3 mil in salary cap space they will get a 1st rounder and soon to be nhl ready forward. Just an idea I had.

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Well as I pointed out I think the only way to move Cole or Samsonov is take on salary. I dont know that JK wants to add salary. But if they rare case that JK would allow it to happen (could I guess if Brindy retires). I would definitely trade down with ANA to add another 1st rounder. I would then move Cole, a 1st rounder, and O prospect (samson, lindstrom or terry) for Patrick Kane. The canes will have more than enough cap space and Chicago will need to free space up to keep the young guys together. Chicago would free up 3.25 mil of cap space while adding a winger. I would then use the other 1st rounder to get a 3rd line center or D man

Lines could look like this

Boychuk-Staal-Kane

Ruutu-Sutter-Jokinen

Tlusty/Osala-Dalpe/Draft-Bowman/Larose

Larose/Samsonov-Dwyer/checker- Kstop

Pitkanen-Gleason

Babchuk-McBain

Draft-Carson/checker

These lines are going off of the recent article on ch.com. If Brindy retires and Cole is in the trade we actually be the 250k in salary. Yes Brindy's will still hit the cap but I dont think we will ever go close to the cap so that is no issue. Chicago already has 57.5 mil lined up in salary next season and they have plenty of holes on O and D. No one will want to pay Campbell's salary so Chicago will have to trade someone they dont necessary want to. On top of over 3 mil in salary cap space they will get a 1st rounder and soon to be nhl ready forward. Just an idea I had.

As much as I'd love to see us pick up Kane, I really can't see that happening. Yes Chicago will be desperate to move salary, but not that desperate. We'd have to look at someone on a little lower level. If Sharp weren't a center, I'd take a really long look at picking him up in a deal similar to what you suggested for Kane. Since Sharp is a center, I might think about Versteeg. Not as much of a salary dump for Chicago, but we could work on a package of some sort based around him. He also wouldn't be the savior 1st line winger, but he could nonetheless be a young solid 2nd line/1st line potential pickup.

Also, your proposed lineup has Babchuk and McBain together on the second pairing. I'd personally prefer to see Carson or a FA pickup there instead of Babs. I'd use Babs on the third pairing and situationally (primarily on PP).

Lots to think about and tons of potential deals to consider. Going to be a long, but fun, offseason.

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I appreciate the well thought out and well written responses.

I have agreed that it sounds (again) like JR is not going for any major free agents (though he may be posturing). I'm just making the case that this team will risk being below average next year then. If we are going to slouch through a low period and take a couple of years getting better draft picks as part of our long term plan...well I frankly don't like it.

Again, this thread was not started specifically to predict what could happen, but to make a case for what we think should happen.

To me everything does come down to making space. Making salary space and roster space. To me that means we have to move Cole and Sammy, not sign Whitney and obviously buy out Brindy.

On the Cole and Sammy thing, I don't know. I would be willing to trade them for prospects or picks if it could be done. Maybe not. If not, then we certainly can't sign Whitney if we want to let some of the kids get up here.

I guess the bottom line for me is that our current core of forwards is suspiciously weak in terms of a few guys who can be counted on to score in that 20-30 goal range. Other than Staal everyone has an asterisk by their name.

Ruutu:    injury prone, only broken 20 goals twice in career

Cole:      see Ruutu on injuries, never a decent playmaker, now can't score goals either, hands of stone, not the same post injury.

Sammy:  mostly sizzle, not much steak, had a nice run on arrival, but last year flat out non productive.

LaRose:  I still believe, but so far has just had that one magical year/ also not a playmaker.

Jussi:      what a year, and coming off a strong playoffs, I really do think we have a guy here we can count on, but again last year was an anomaly.

Whitney: has been what I'm looking for his entire Canes career, but age will likely dampen his effectiveness, and not even under contract.

Sutter:     love him. ahead of schedule. Should build on it, but ahead of schedule not proven over the long haul. Not a playmaker. Still young.

                could regress.

Kosto:     very nice player, nice year, played all 82 games: 8 goals.

I like Sutter and Jussi to bring it again. I like Ruutu to have a good year, and I think LaRose's year of two years ago was not a fluke. But none of these has much track record, and after that it really drops off. I don't expect anything from Cole or Sammy, and I think father time will catch Whtiney next year.

Plus all of that leaves little room for the Boychuk, Bowman, Tlusty's, etc.

It may be impossible to move Cole and Sammy pre-season. Maybe as long as the team doesn't fall into a pit like last year, even if we're struggling, but not like the free fall of last year, a mid-season move can be made. Maybe JR finds a guy late in preseason that fills the need. I would just like to see more youth on the third line and at least one more vet on the top line. Just what I'd like to see. That and some playoff hockey. Oh and the All Star game.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying, Remkin.  I was thinking of a compromise approach. 

It involves JR signing a couple of mid-tier free agents that work well short and long-term and

it would be best if he didn't wait until September.  Here is my plan - JR makes 3 smallish but

important free agent signings ....

Sign Toni Lydman, veteran defenseman from Buffalo, to pair with another Fin ...Joni Pitkanen.

Sign Adam Burish, a large, physical winger from Chicago to play 2nd/3rd line right wing.

Sign Atlanta's Jim Slater as the 3rd line center.  He's good defensively, has grit and some scoring.

Then, in 1 year, 2 at the most the lineup looks like this:

Boychuk..........Staal..................Niederreiter

Ruutu..............Jokinen...............Dalpe

Bowman.........Sutter..................Burish

Tlusty..............Slater/Dwyer......Kostopoulos

Gleason......McBain

Pitkanen.....Lydman

Picard/........Carson

Rodney

Ward..........Peters

If everyone develops well with the extra time in the AHL, and they come close to realizing their

potential, then that is a pretty solid lineup that could do well for years.

  

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