Saturday, July 5, 2008

The long and winding road

We signed Fedotenko, for whom I can't wait to have higher stats in all categories than Ryan Malone in 08/09, and Miro Satan. He's 33, 6'3, has only missed 3 games in the past 3 seasons. $3.5M. Because of all the 3's, I'm going to have to predict him putting up 33 goals in the regular season.

Will they be the top line? Who knows. Dupuis is back as well, but I think he'll be a depth guy/PK specialist. Apparently we're trying to import one Janne Pesonen, 26, who looks real sick online. He's been throttling the Finnish top division at 5'11, 180. Instantly the pundits say "his size awf fuh fuh fuh fuh"; watch this video of him pull a Drury under-the-poke-check move, get held but elbow the D-man, freeze the goalie, and proceed to pick the far corner on the backhand. There's a few vids of him dangling defenders, scoring on penalty shots, etc. The video is much better when you imagine the defenseman be Derian Hatcher.

Then there's Staal. What will we do with him? I guess last season he was supposed to be the #3 wing, not the #3 centre. Depending on who else we sign, its looking like Talbot is our 3rd line C, which is awsome. Whats with all the 3's? Anyway, I really don't know what is going on with Staalsy. Is he an even strength/PP wing and PK centre? I guess. Therrien will likely do something shocking like make Ryan Whitney the #2 LW for the first 5 games to try and get Sydor moved. In an unfortunately related note, Tampa seems interested in a Sydor/Scuderi/pick? in exchange for former Therrien saddle-bronc Michel Oulette.

If we for some reason bring Oulette back, that means he's going to be a top-six wing. No joke. All those times Mark Madden went on those rants about Therrien refusing to use better players in all situations were completely justified.

So what would I do? We've got ~$3.8M in cap space, and its looking like Sydor's 2.5 will be gone soon. I play Staal at 2nd-line LW, and I create a third line based around our PK unit of Talbot-Dupuis. Will Pesonen make the jump? It could make for a very fast two-way 3rd line. Will we come to terms with a guy like Matt Cooke? Unknown.

The first thing I would do with the cap room we d o have is sign Yannick Perreault. He scored 21 goals for a garbage Phoenix team for 38 pts in 66 games, could be had for $1.250M, and is the mac on face-offs. Sure, he can't skate. He's 5'11, plays as ruggedly as you would expect a Smurf. We need a face-off specialist, and our young guys need to learn the art from a guy who went 64.3% last season. Sick.

Something I saw Toronto do a lot last year, which was the only decent strategy they used, was have Sundin win all their PK draws and then change. I wouldn't have a problem with playing him ~6 minutes to take face-offs, especially since the new "face-off is automatically in your zone if you take a penalty" rule is going to create a lot of chances. He would be a specialist forward with a clear role, much like Eric Godard is a specialist forward with a clear role. In addition, that gives us the optional C after we load 2-3 onto our PP unit.

I would really like to sign Matt Cooke. If our third-line was Dupuis-Talbot-Cooke, we have a lot of speed, grit, and agitation. Part of covering top lines is skating with them, then again Therrien has shown no interest in paying attention to the tactics of the opponent. Anyway, Cooke is an outstanding PK forward as well. He's ultimately going to cash in with one of the NHL's ugly sisters, like St. Louis or Atlanta, so I'm not going to get my hopes up.

In any event, I love that we're not committed to quite a bit of salary after this season. Gaborik will be out there next summer, and from all indications, he'll be on our trade radar all season. What if that doesn't work out? When we're set to open our new building, point-per-game (466gp, 466 pts) and perrenial 50-goal threat Ilya Kovalchuk will be a UFA, probably of the defunct Las vegas Thrashers.. although his career -73 shocks and awes.

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