I like this team for second in the Central and, say, fourth overall in the West.
If Schmaltz makes it, that will be as the No. 7 D-man. He didn't look out of place last season. But, again, Walman and Dunn are viewed as high-upside guys.
I don't see that, given the crowding up front and this team's emphasis on speed. The game has changed and made it tough on those destined Hall of Famers.
There is another level there for No. 91. Yeo needs to bring that out of him in his first full season as coach. Can he find the perfect fit for him at even strength? I like Schwartz playing on the opposite wing, but I'm guessing the team is open to suggestions in the middle for 5-on-5 play. Lehtera obviously did his buddy no good last year.
I don't see the near-term urge for Stillman and Co. to bail. But, yes, there is a lot stacking up against them at once. It's never been easy for this franchise here. One problem after another.
Tarasenko is this team's star, so there it's not like the Cardinals trying to upgrade from Piscotty/Grichuk to Stanton. I sense J.T. wants to stay on the island if that franchise can get its own arena. If not, then Toronto has the pieces to make the blockbuster trade -- although the Leafs are loaded as is.
Gunnarsson will be pressured by all the young D-men capable of moving the puck. And as I noted earlier, it's put up or leave time for Jaskin. Sanford, Thompson, Kostin, Thomas next camp . . . there are options.
Obviously last season was a mess for him. I'm sure he believes he is a Top 10 talent in that class. The Blues have seen other guys slip in the draft, then come into the league ready to make the other teams look stupid.
I'll ask you what I asked JR last week...
Blues Points? 100.
20 goal scorers? 4
Playoff Round Reached? 2
Rookies to dawn the note in 17/18? 2
With all due respect to Ryan, one of my all-time favs, I'm guessing there will be more angst over Crosby and Malkin.
Chicago will be using a LOT of kids this season and their D is depleted. Saad will give Toews a boost, but Kane will really miss Panarin. Challenging year ahead.
Thornburn might be there on the fourth line and Jaskin, if he is ready to play, could be the third-line guy. Steen could play anywhere, but right wing is possible in the Top 6 if Schwartz and Fabbri play on the left side.
Adding Bennett up front and Prosser on defense offers sufficient depth IMO and there is heavy competition up front, especially in the bottom 6.
Arizona played kids and got killed. Toronto played really, really, really talented kids (Matthews, Nylander, Marner) and won with them -- with veterans like Kadri, Bozak and van Riemsdyk helping hold things together. The Blues don't hold people back. Barbashev and Sanford saw prime time duty down the stretch last season and are better for it. But as Armstrong noted, they hopped onto a team that was playing well and they went for a ride. So he doesn't mind erring on the side of caution with younger players. There is nothing wrong with making younger players earn their play with consistent success.
Not sure if any more changes are planned after the odd mid-season rollout last season. Why didn't they just wait until this season to give goaltenders all summer to adjust?
And don't forget the city refused to yield on its amusement tax when owner after owner asked for a break.
JT is going to get $10 million per season and it's tough to pay two superstars huge coin. Look at the struggle Chicago has had the last few years with the cap while paying Kane and Toews. The Penguins have pulled it off with Crosby and Malkin, but the money is only going up.
Saad will be welcomed back and he'll put up points while finally getting some PP time. Chicago's Schmaltz could be special. But, yes, that team will miss Hossa's grit and losing a shutdown defender stings too. It's no wonder Coach Q was royally ticked when he heard about some of these changes.
Sorry if I spoiled his secret.