First off, the Cinderella season for the NHL that saw many teams make an unfathomable jump with continue. New Jersey, Colorado, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vegas and some could say Washington all had way better or worse than expected seasons. The Golden Misfits as they are more appropriately branded are going to the Cup final. The question remains, was this a one night only Vegas trick? Let's look at everything that happened.
First the expansion draft gave some core players atleast for one season in Marchessault and Neal.They got great depth players in Haula, Smith, Tuch, Perron, Schmidt, Engelland and more. Lastly, they got one star player in the Flower. Some of this is great work by their GM and other huge miscalculations from the other GMs. The biggest blunder goes to the Panthers, after a disastrous season they give both Marchessault and Smith. Great work Tallon... not!
The coup for Mcphee and Gallant goes to their learning experiences. They both earned to go for speed instead of their old roots for big and bruising. That made this whole team a success and add the fact that Neal came over with one thought, create a brand with the team to win "The Golden Misfits" and it worked. So now lets look line by line and the future in holds.
Marchessault - Karlson - Smith
Two thirds ex panthers, wow again great job Tallon. Marchessault should be a strong core piece for years, 3 seasons that are all close to 30 seasons he is not a one trick pony. Smith a hard worker that really just needed someone to believe in him is now proving he belongs. Karlson is a great surprise, but one I question. He had a shooting percentage of 25% I believe and that poses worry. To me I think you will see an in between player from his past and this past season. Something like 20-25 goals and 20-30 assists, which is still a strong piece and one that could conceivably anchor the 1st line but not as strong.
Neal - Haula - Perron
All players that worked well together and strong and should have more strong seasons. The problem both Neal and Perron are UFAs that are ready to try and cash in. That's 2 thirds of an effective second line. We will assume they can resign one and go with Perron as Neal will anchor more dollars.
Carpenter - Eakin - Tuch
This was a fast and effective third line with a potential jumper to replace Neal in Tuch.
Nosek - Bellemare - Reaves
The pugilist group to help withstand any team wishing to throw weight and it worked wonders against the Jets and Kings.
Defense they have Mcnabb, Schmidt, Theodore, Engelland, Sbisa and Miller. This became an unheralded group but one that Pittsburgh proved could work, Have one star or future star (theodore) and 4-5 defensemen that work in the 3-5 range. This made a competent defense which is all they need and they have it for the future.
I did forget one forward in Tatar which was acquired for depth this year and to provide insurance should Neal and Perron walk which is a potential strong move by Mcphee.
Goaltending was all luck but hey it worked. The Flower became an older more expensive version and as a result was not needed. Subban was once touted then struggled and true to the Subban name used it as fuel to create himself a job.
Looking at the lines and the most obvious losses, I do not think this team can have as much success next year, but that's not to say they will not compete. This team has the potential to make the playoffs again. Mcphee did a great job to get draft picks and noe must utilize them to get lots of prospects as this team shoud now look to the future. The future is the kids, Subban and Theodore with Marchessault and others providing the veteran depth.