I'm a little surprised a 'C' makes this much of a difference. Or maybe it's an Olympic snub. Or maybe it's his new offseason training regimen. Or maybe it's just that he's healthy again. But Jason Spezza looks more... committed to hockey than I remember seeing in the past. There seems to be some kind of determination to his game that was missing before. I'm taking that as a positive sign.
Here are some other things I'm thinking this morning.
1. I'm probably talking out of my ass here, but I think it's probably much harder to trade in the NHL than we think it is--especially when you're talking about kids who can't crack your own lineup. If I'm Jay Feaster of the Calgary Flames and Bryan Murray calls me to talk about Stephane Da Costa, my first question is, "I have Sean Monahan and Max Reinhart in my system right now. Why would I give up anything for a guy so similar to what I already have?" What's Murray going to answer? "Uh... prospects?" Thanks, but no thanks, Bryan.
I mean, sure, teams are going to listen if you want to move Mika Zibanejad or Cody Ceci. But you don't. What you're looking to do is offload your fringe players in exchange for an upgrade on some position of need. Awfully tough to find a buyer for that package. I have to think all teams have high hopes--like we do--for their own fringe prospects. Otherwise, they wouldn't even be in the pipeline anymore, right?
2. I wonder how many games without a goal Bobby Ryan can start the season with before the Bust Vultures start circling? Three? Five? One? Remember last year how Spezza started the season with five points in five games and all we could really talk about was how he didn't look good? That's crazy, right? Saying that a guy on a point-per-game pace doesn't look good because he's not putting up multi-point games?
I think it's obvious that Ryan is still adjusting to Paul MacLean's system. He's putting up points--and that's great, since it speaks to his natural talent--but I think if you watch him closely, he's still trying to force things instead of letting the game come to him. It might take a few games for that line to click once they're facing top lines and top defenders every night. I wonder if anyone will have the patience for that.
3. Shane Prince is going to be an NHL player. And not just a role player. I'm not having a hard time envisioning Prince sliding right into Clarke MacArthur's spot three years from now.
4. Patrick Wiercioch doesn't look like he's going to have a problem replacing Gonchar. The Senators weren't kidding when they said they felt Wiercioch was ready to step into Sergei Gonchar's role. He must have spent the offseason working out with Kyle Turris again, because he played with poise and confidence last night. Wiercioch's vision has never really been in question, but his execution was superior. Adding strength is a great way to add confidence
That's good news for Jared Cowen, also. The more Wiercicoch can do, the more Cowen is free to do what he does. These two might wind up complementing each other very well.
5. Mika Zibanejad looks like he's taken the next step in his development. I'm suddenly a lot less worried about a line with him, Colin Greening, and Neil. In a perfect world, you'd find a way to get a scorer on Zibanejad's wing instead of Chris Neil. Jean-Gabriel Pageau would make that a really, really dangerous line.