Well, it's been a little over a week since Mr. Gauthier sent our Slovakian playoff wonderboy out of La Belle Province and off to St. Louis for... Lars Eller (He's danish...yummy) and Ian Shultz (No not the D-man who was a +50 for the Caps, that was his brother) and consequently sending the city into an outrage while rekindling that old nickname our GM was crowned with in Anaheim after dealing Selanne for....Jeff Friesen and Steve Shields? Hint: It ends in host. But I digress...
Our Bleu-Blanc-Rouge our coming off an improbable playoff run where fantastic goaltending and timely goal scoring fuelled an exciting run to the conference finals. While this team overachieved, a number of question marks surround this team heading into free agency which I will draw on over the next few blog entries.
Concern #1) How do we get bigger?
With Gomez and Plekanec firmly entrenched as our top 2 centerman, along with Cammalleri and Gionta flanking them for the next 4 years, NHL D-men won't exactly be running for cover when our little tikes come bearing in on the forecheck. While you certainly have to admire the guts these guys played with both during the regular season and playoff run, their ability to wear down is an important issue that must be addressed. Both Cammy and Gionta missed significant time this season and I feel it'll be a growing concern for the core of our undersized forwards as they age.
Solution: Find a forward with size and speed who is an established (Sorry Lars) NHL foward to allow Gomer and company the space they need to make things happen with their legs (We all know how much Scotty likes the perimeter. Like, the part where the net isn't...but boy can he...penalty kill?)It was quite disheartening not to see a guy like David Backes come over from St-Louis. And please don't argue the money side of this one, he's a 2.5 million dollar cap hit who's entering the prime of his career. In the grand scheme of things we're still shedding salary if he goes for Halak as Gauthier knew with certainty how much Jaro was set to make as an RFA with arbitration eligibility (How does Pierre know? He just does...k?) Not much is available in the form of big physical wingers, but a guy like Raffi Torres stands out as a pretty good fit. He plays with an edge, skates hard and has a scoring touch (19 in 60 games with Columbus berfore he fizzled out in Buffalo). He's a former first rounder who could be a top six guy if he stays healthy and buys into Martin's system.
Rumours are swirling about Frolov being mentioned as Montreal bound. Really? If we were looking for an underachieving Russian with a big body and a great skill set who's weak between the ears all we'd have to do is continue paying Andrei Kostitsyn. Despite the scorn Andrei gets from myself and other far more credible media types, there's no denying the fact that when he's on his game he's Ovechkinesque (anybody remeber that 2 goal game against Atlanta earlier this season?) and removing himself from the pressure cooker that is Montreal to a more obscure market like say, San Jose, may do him some good. If your Doug Wilson would you not consider a Clowe for the Kostitsyn brothers swap?
Just an idea.
Until next time,
Enjoy tonight's draft and may the first 26 teams picking kindly ignore selecting Hall or Seguin