I noticed two things in the paper this morning. We are 29th in the league in GA and 5th from the bottom in GA in the AHL. On top of that, our strength is "supposed to be" our tremendous depth on defence.
When we were contenders, we were solid defensively. Say what you want about Jacques Martin, but he delivered that from forwards and from dmen. Defence was not only valued but insisted upon or you didn't play.
Now, we deemed alot of the players who were solid defensively, among them Kelly and Volchenkov as too expensive, expendable and replaceable. We drafted "puck-moving" dman (the new buzz-word).
Now we need to reevaluate and include some "puck-stopping" dmen to shut down the other team? Our inability to defend has cost us alot of games. And yes, we have several new dmen in the fold and they are learning.
Our weakness, according to all the experts was supposed to be scoring goals. We're 5th in the Eastern Conference in GF. If we could defend better, we'd be up there with the best teams.
Karlsson for one has improved defensively. However, collectively, having more GA than GF is a recipe for disaster in any league. The kind of style we play requires an all star goalie with a .930 save percentage because he is often by himself while the fourth forward is up with the forwards. That is an oversimplified analysis for sure, but the point here is what exactly are we building and specifically what are we building defensively with all of these offensive-minded dmen?
The plan for next year looks like it will be to shore up the second line center position by adding more depth to the offence. With the best part of our defensive dman in the twilight of their careers, where will that leave us?
I say our biggest need is to draft or trade for a young Chris Phillips clone, and that our biggest need for improvement is in the GA department. The forwards we have in the organization will be knocking at the door next year. Silfverberg, Z'jad, Stone and company will be trying to break the door down, so we will have plenty of offence. And at the same time, I am thrilled with the development of some of our NHL forwards... ZSmith, Greening, Daugavins and Michalek in particular.
We do have alot of dmen in the organization, but the mix of types of dmen is REALLY lacking. Rundblad will probably get better defensively, but he is an offensive-minded dman. Cowen will get better defensively and he is developing well. Phillips and Gonchar and Kuba will need to be replaced, and that is what I am talking about here. Even though we have some really good ones, I don't see this glut of dmen that we are supposed to have.