Well it is no suprise that many Senators fans are focused on our defensive depth moving into this season with injuries to Cowen (likely season ending) and Lundin (could be back in a few weeks), but how is our forward situation shaping up? Well I honestly quite like the idea of a theoretical top 6 involving Latendresse, Spezza, Alfredsson, Turris, Michalek and a prospect (Silfverburg likely); although there is a bit of a flaw in our plans that involves a corps full of players with histories full of injuries.
It is true that the Senators got through last year with relatively minor losses on the injury front, but historically many of the players we would like to rely on for as our scoring forwards have missed significant parts of their seasons. Spezza and Michalek have been known to go down for extended periods while managing to put in 60+ games per season. Alfredsson is getting older, so there are questions as to his ability to stay in top condition and let us not even dissect Latendresse's last couple of seasons. The real question remains as to whom in the system can replace top 6 minutes when others are injured.
Colin Greening: Had significant top 6 minutes last season putting up decent numbers for a rookie, but not enough to prove he belongs in said role. If injuries occur he could move up the lineup to fill a spot.
Zack Smith: A great season as a 3C, but can he move up the lineup to match other teams quality players? A good question that we never may get the answer to. Smith is great as a 3C where he dominates but that may just be the best spot for him like Chris Kelly.
Peter Regin: Another player that has hit the injury bug, he has the potential to fill in on the second line but we need to question his ability to do so.
Prospect flavour of the month: Be it Zibanejad, Da Costa or Stone; these guys have yet to show their true ability to perform in the top 6 in the NHL. Of these players I think Da Costa has the best chance of proving himself in 2013 due to his experience in professional hockey, but a player like Zibanejad will always get a look due to his reputation as a 6th overall pick. Stone is of course a diehard fan favourite being a 6th rounder and World Junior player but the question remains, can he pick up his level to play in the NHL?
So our projected lineup looks something like this:
Top 6: Silfverburg, Latendresse, Spezza, Turris, Michalek, Alfredsson
Bottom 7: Neil, Regin, Smith, Condra, Daugavins, O'Brien, Greening.
I think our current lineup can get the job done barring any major injuries, but if some hardships come along then we might need to rethink our teams ability to adapt and succeed. I think that we can look at the players that are fringe NHLers such as Daugavins, O'Brien and Condra (yes they have their roles on our team, but they can be easily replaced) as positions where we could possibly improve our team through acquiring veterarn free agents that are still on the market. There arn't many options left on the market but there are a few interesting bodies that could act as serviceable players that can reinforce our bottom 6 group while having the ability to fill in for an injury in the top 6 due to their experience and ability.
I won't pretend to know anything about these players, so I will just give a small comment as to their status based on their numbers. Feel free to give a through evaluation in the comments.
Jochen Hecht: In his career he has achieved 20g+ and 50p+, but has struggled to stay healthy in the last couple of seasons. Still only 35 (not overly old), he could occupy a depth position on a team looking to add at the forward position. He has managed to put up 5g 8a for 13p in 6g in the DEL this year.
Kristian Huselius: A man who once managed 34g and has proven his ability to pot 20g+ and 60p+, his health may be in question as well but he could be a solid addition to solidify a team without players who can move upward in the lineup in case of injuries.
Peter Sykora: Another older player, but one that has managed to keep his production at a decent level moving into his twilight. He managed 21g last season and could be a solid addition.
Jason Arnott: A man who has managed 30g+ in two seasons, as well as been a consistent 20g+ scorer while potting 17 last year. He will find a contr act for this year but who will be the team looking to acquire his services?
Andrei Brunette: Again another older player who has been able to put up points during his career but may be at the end of his rope. Can he fill in the roll of swing man in 2013?
I personally think that acquiring one of these vetarns could improve our lineup for this season assuming a one year deal, but do you think that that the price we pay for offsetting one of our young players is worth the price we will pay? Considering the talent in the fringe players we will be offsetting I do not thing the shuffle in forwards would be a big deal, then again the final remaining question is will Melnyk want to pay for one of these players when a younger alternative would be capable of filling the roll?