Trader Cliff's opinion of the entry draft mirror's this neophytic blogger's feelings towards the constant worry over the logjam on the Leafs' blueline.
There isn't one. Nope. Not at all.
I think the reason for this perception stems from the fact that we've all been overwhelmed by the number of roster changes but a quick glance at the depth chart will alleviate our concerns.
1. Tomas Kaberle
Bona fide puck-moving d-man who won't shut down a top line but isn't a liability either. He can also score when he shoots, which is always a plus. Legitimate top pair guy.
2. Pavel Kubina
A solid d-man who no longer looks overpaid when one considers the number of zeroes that follow the 65 in Wade Redden's annual salary. (Woof) When he's hot he's hot and when he's off his game Howard and Damien have an easy day at the office. Not out of place on the first pairing.
3. Mike Van Ryn
This guy can be a good player if he stays healthy and can probably regain his form after missing most of last season but the three seasons before that were fairly healthy campaigns. I won't draft him onto my fantasy team but he will be a decent player on the second pairing and first pairing in a pinch.
4. Jeff Finger
Who knows? One can be optimistic or pessimistic but if he does end up playing to his salary it probably won't be until 09/10 because that's a lot of pressure on a man who is still in double-digits in NHL games played. Likely a reliable if unremarkable player who also fits the bill of a 3-4 guy.
5. Anton Stralman.
A younger, faster and more swedish version of Kaberle with plenty of upside but still a few defensive kinks. He'll make the team without much trouble and could be as good as a number 2 or 3 guy but will likely shoulder the offensive load for the 3rd pairing.
6. Carlo Colaiacovo
If he stays healthy he will certainly be able to handle eight minutes a game without looking too out of place as a 3rd pairing d-man. However, my adoration for Carlo aside that 'if' is a sizable one.
7. Ian White
A smallish, offensively minded player with some upside but certainly no shoo-in on the Leafs or many other NHL clubs. Love the guy, but he's not a lock for the big club and represents but a twig in this supposed logjam.
8. Staffan Kronwall
Not nearly as good as his older, and now very well-paid, brother Niklas. A good AHL player, a marginal NHL player and yet another piece of kindling amongst logs clogging up the Don. (Or is the Humber?)
(Yeah, Yeah, I know... what about Schenn... here you go.)
9. Luke Schenn
Money in the bank. (Can it you Habs trolls.) He'll be good some day but whether that day is in October '08 or October '11 I honestly don't think he'll be in the NHL on a regular 78-82 game basis until '09 or maybe even '10. Fletcher has consistently voiced his concerns about rushing young players like Luke and Howard's most recent blog confirms that Schenn is a long shot to be in that congested crowd of conifers that people are worried about. (Everybody knows that only forwards are deciduous. Why? A forward always 'leaves' their goalie out to dry.)
So there you have it. Six legitimate players for the NHL squad. Two injury replacements. One who may or may not play at all this year. It leaves room for injuries, it isn't obscenely under-talented, and the entire group costs somewhere south of 22 million per annum. An affordable and free-flowing collection of stumps to be sure.
logjam will be at the bottom of the Eastern conference where the Tavares/Hedman sweepstakes will really start to heat up in early March.
Nice article, but what about that Frogren guy? I'd put him between White and Kronwall, but I expect he'll make the roster simply because he came over to play in the NHL, not the AHL. I'd also put Carlo Colaiacovo at number 3 when healthy. Hes been our best defenseman in our own end at times regardless of the fact he's never in the lineup for long.
Pretty fair assessment, although I agree with Tough that Frogen will probably land on the big club and we can't forget some young guys playing with the Marlies, I think Schenn will be called up for a few games and if reponsible who knows? and maybe Phil Oreskovic. Possibly Muir as a veteran with size and grit if the big club runs into injury issues.
my top 6? Kaberle, Kubina, Frogren, Stralman, Colaiacovo, and Finger. Van Ryn is the 7th man. unfortunatly for white and kronwall, i think they are going to have a tough time cracking this line up. realistically, the top 5 spots are already taken. kaberle and kubina are proven veterans, unless something goes catastrophically wrong, they'll be on the ice- ALOT. Frogren, as has been pointed out, is not crossing the river to play in the A. Finger won't be paid 4 million to sit in the press box. so thats 4 of 6 right there. Colaiacovo is a bottom 4 dman when healthy, that being the key. the only real wild card in my mind is the 6th spot, split between 4 d-men...
so in essence, yes, there is a log jam and i believe it will result in one of white or kronwall being moved, the other goes back to the marlies.
I am a habs fan and I know Schenn will be awesome (you should get his bro in this yrs draft pick him first overall :P, being that fletcher said tavares and hedman not in your plans). U said Schenn would be ready for the '09 season well this is the 09 season.
Oh yeah... Frogren... knew I forgot somebody...Word to the wise: Don't write a blog after having a semi-drunken argument with a friend via text.Yes, we should get Schenn Jr.Nice av sgeniole. Looks familiar...
I agree with sgeniloe about the top six, with on exception I think Van Ryan will be in Colaiacovo's spot leaving a d-man to be moved or a pretty good crop in the minors. Atleast Wilson has some options.