Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Far Are We Away from a Cup?

Let's be upfront about it: despite a few strong games in a row, chances are we won't take the cup this year - though I'm still predicting playoffs for the Buds, I just don't see them going all the way. We simply just don't have the pieces to take it all the way. But how far away are we? In some obvious areas (top six) we're pretty hurting. But let's look at this more specifically. What do we have playing right now that could feasibly be a legitimate piece on a Stanley Cup team?

Ponikarovsky - CENTRE - RIGHT WING
Hagman - CENTRE - Stempniak
LEFT WING - Mitchell - Orr

Kaberle - Komisarek
White - Beauchemin
Schenn - Finger/Exelby


So it's pretty clear - we've only got 1.5 that could be a top sixer on a Cup team...Poni really is pushing it. In all honesty, I think you could interchange Hagman, Stempniak, Poni, and even Blake for those three spots but beyond that I don't really buy into it. Mitchell could also be switched out for Wallin without much of an effect. So up front that means we're going to need to add two strong centres, two quality wingers, a grinding centre and a hard hitting/working winger for the fourth line. That might be Nik Kulemin but I'm not buying it. Sorry.

On the back: yeah. I think we're set. That was clearly Burke's intention for the summer and once Schenn/Beauchemin settle into their games we'll be just fine. I truly believe that. And maybe Macdonald really could settle into the backup role full time but while Gustavsson has played well it's a pretty small sample size to see if a goalie can take you to the show: in the meantime though, it sure has looked that way.

Let's not forget the prospects, though. We've got some very promising players in Kadri, Bozak, Stalberg, Hanson, and Tlusty all sitting in the minors right now and performing as they should. So let's have another look (assuming these players move into the players we hope they will become.

Tlusty - Kadri- Kessel
Stalberg - Bozak - Hanson
Poni - Tlusty - Stempniak
Hagman/Kulemin - Mitchell - Orr

Kaberle - Komisarek
White - Beauchemin
Schenn - Finger/Exelby


But realistically: all these players are not going to be ready by next year. Kadri will probably be heading for one more year of junior (giving Burke's history) and I'm really not sold on Jiri Tlusty quite yet. I hope he can be the top notch goal scorer we hoped he would be but if he does then power to him. I do, however, think the Frat Line will make the push up next year. However: I think they'd be best suited, for now, as a third line grind line providing some secondary scoring.

CAUTION: We are now entering the land of pipe dreams. If our cards are played correctly during free agency, he's our 2011 Stanley Cup winning team (and shocker: it fits under the cap).

Kovalchuk (8) – Savard (6)– Kessel (5.4)
Tlusty (3) – Kadri (875k) – Guerin (1.3)
Stalberg (850K) – Bozak(3.75) - Hanson(1)
Orr (1)– Mitchell(1.2) – Hagman(3)

Kaberle(4.25) – Komisarek(4.5)
Schenn(2.975) – Beau(3.8)
White(2) – Gunnarsson/Mikus(875K)

Macdonald (700K)

Is this realistic? Nooooope. Kovalchuk will probably either stay in Atlanta or be KHL bound: plus he'll get closer to 9-10 million. Savard actually doesn't look that unlikely at this point. Getting a vet like Billy Guerin for a year wouldn't hurt in the least especially since he can still score a couple goals. Kadri is magically ready to play, Blake is mysteriously dissapeared, and XLB/Finger have been let go for cheaper options.

Again: this is nothing else but something fun to look at, and I don't see us getting Kovalchuk. I wish. But just take a look at these scenarios and how the team has started to play:

We're not as far off as you might think.


PS: You can now reach the site from leafandlion.com

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