"Average is as close to the top as it is to the bottom, and I'm sick of being average," said Snow. "We've developed a strategy to become competitive every year, which is the key to winning the Stanley Cup. It's called "The Plan." And it involved three parts: drafting wisely, developing prospects and sprinkling in free agents. We're putting in all the resources to bringing home a Stanley Cup. We need you the fans to help make this happen. We want you to continue to be the great fans that you are and we'll make this happen together."
The Plan. As original as any name can be for a strategy to develop a mediocre team into a contender. It's nice to see the passion behind Garth Snow's words when he admits he's "sick of being average," but what is he going to do to jump start that process next year?
Well he plans on bringing in a "true heavyweight" through free agency by showing off Long Island and its fan base. That's great and all but I'm sure the facility will once again be an issue. Heck I even saw in an article some little girl said she thought the locker room was small. After seeing how hard it was to land anyone in the UFA pool, I really don't expect to see any all-stars land here. The most noteworthy forward is Marian Hossa, and I really would be surprised if he chose to come to our old building.
It seems safe to assume that all of our young players ranging from Okposo to Gervais will be on the roster next year, and yes, that includes Jeff Tambellini. Nolan made a point of addressing Andy Hilbert's success in the minors as he would put up 70 point seasons, averaging almost a point per game, but serves a different role in the NHL. Could it mean Andy might one day have his breakout year? Sure, anything can happen. But do we really want two players in the same situation? I don't. Since Tamby will be playing I say next year is make or break. I want the kid to succeed and evolve into a top six forward, but if he does not show a dramatic amount of improvement by next year's all-star game we may have to reconsider how patient we're going to be.
Gervais looked at times to be the odd-man out on the defense as his level of play hasn't increased much this year, and our blue line is thin on offensive depth. With the exception of Campoli, who is still in the making, there is not one player who is note-worthy of a power play specialist. I will be very curious to see if they address this need, as I really feel they should. However I would be very surprised to see Nolan start the season with 9 defenseman again. Should be interesting to say the least.
Snow launched some big words and big expectations into the crowd. The concept makes sense and it is something I have always said would work. You can compare The Plan to the same make-up of the Rangers, Penguins, Devils, Flyers, Avalanche, Ducks and so on. But we have to be patient. This won't suddenly make our team a playoff contender next year. Of course I want this team, with the young guys, to make the playoffs but if it doesn't happen we have to look at it as a step in the right direction pending the seasons the young guys have.
On a side note, there has been some speculation to the status of Mike Sillinger. There have not been any reports on his recovery and from what I hear many are wondering if it's going to cause him to think about retirement. This is not official in any way, just a rumor. However if Silly does call it a career, does that mean Vasicek gets the third line roll?
There will be a lot of question marks heading into the summer. For now the answers remain to be seen.