Tuesday, July 3, 2007

What will we see this season?

For the most part, the free agent frenzy is over. Now its time to throw that bottle of champagne in the recycle bin, pick the streamers off the floor, and stop kissing that picture of GMGM (think of him this way instead).

Rage, who is a full time commentator here and part time muse, started debating line combos with me this morning. So, in a completely pre-mature, who the hell knows whats gonna happen, waaay too early post, here are my thoughts on the Caps lines combos for next season.

Ovie - Nylander - Fleischmann
Semin - Backstrom - Kozlov
Pettinger - Gordon - Clark
Brashear - Sutherby - Laich/Bradley/Steckel

Line one: Ovie and Nyls are locks. The question mark is Flash. When he plays with confidence, I see him as a future #1 or #2 winger but he is largely unproven. He has been terrific in Hershey, and at times brilliant with the Caps. But Flash hasnt spent enough time with the big club for us to know if he can get through the grind of a full NHL season and still play well every night. Plus, he needs to gain some weight. "New NHL" or not, from the neck down he looks like Nicole Richie.

I do think its a possibility for Clark and Flash to flip places, but I dont know if we will be using Flash's skills to the best of his ability if we dont pair him with a solid center. Kinda like this past season with Ovie after we traded Zubrus. And Clark is a great player, but not a natural goal scorer. Being on a line with Alex Ovechkin has helped his numbers quite a bit. But I'm not hatin' on our Captain, cause I think he is great.

Second line: I cant imagine a second line that isnt Semin, Backstrom, and Kozlov. Koz will add a veteran presence to what is otherwise a very young line.

Third line: Pettinger and Gordon proved to be very solid on the checking line for the Caps. Brooks Laich played with them often this season, but I am just not sure that he stays on the third line with our current depth. I think that if the Caps are serious about giving Flash a chance, that they move Clark to the third line. He will add some more offensive upside to a line that already does pretty well with offense. Based on the above, we already have two solid lines. Wouldnt it be terrific if we had a third line that could pitch in some goals? Every playoff contender that went deep into the playoffs has had depth from lines 1-3.

Fourth line: I think Brash is an anchor on this line. Otherwise, its up for grabs. Part time enforcers Brian Sutherby and Matt Bradley might have a role here. Who really knows? Watch for Sutherby, Bradley, Erskine, and Ben Clymer to be fighting for a spot here.

Where does Dave Steckel fit into this though? We offered him a QO (perhaps just as trade bait?), so he is in the mix for now. If Steckel plays the way he did during his call up from Hershey, then I think he deserves to be on the third line. But how would the Caps juggle that? Add Steckel to the list of those who may be traded.

Some others to consider are Jakub Klepis and Chris Bourque. Bourque is ready to at least have a stint with the Caps, whether or not its a steady gig is a seperate question. He and Steckel might be on the trading block, along with Bradley, Clymer (sorry Caps Chick!), Laich and Erskine.

Defense combos:

Poti - Jurcina
Pothier - Morrisonn
Eminger - Schultz
Boumedienne - Green

These are a little trickier. I thought that Morrisonn and Jurcina were a perfect combination last season. But, there is no doubt that both (particularly Morrisonn and his penalties) could benefit from being paired with a vet. Based on development, I think Jurcina goes on the first line with Poti.

Pothier plays best when he isnt over exerted, and with minute-eating monsters Poti and Jurcina out there, I think he will do well as the #3 D-man. And he can bring Morrisonn along.

After these top four, the next D combos are up for grabs. I hope we keep Schultz, and I have faith in Green and Eminger, but I think everyone could be on the chopping block. It would be cruel, but I wonder if the Caps try to bring Clymer back to defense? He could pair up with a young'un. On the other hand, Clymer never looked very comfortable on D, and might just prefer a trade.

Possible trade bait:
D Mike Green
D Jeff Schultz (less likely unless the deal is sweet)
D Steve Eminger
F Ben Clymer
F Matt Bradley
F Brooks Laich (offered a QO)
F Brian Sutherby (offered a QO)
F Tomas Fleischmann (offered a QO)
F Dave Steckel (offered a QO)
F Jakub Klepis (offered a QO)
F Chris Bourque
D Josef Boumedienne (he might just return to Sweden)

The one thing I do know for certain? There are gonna be some long faces in the press box this season.


Rage said...

I personally think that Schultz would be gone before Green. The market overvalues offensive defensemen (i.e. Gonch) and Green has more of that ability.

Then again, maybe that's an argument to trade him.

And I'm pretty much done with Klep. The kid's done nothing.

Shmee said...

I dunno on Klep. We we sent him back down, he really revved up his game. One last shot, then lets trade him.

I could be wrong about this, but from GMGM's remarks, I get the feeling that they really value Schultz. And he has been way more consistent then Green.

Ally S said...

Agree, except that I dont think we should trade Clymer. Maybe he plays limited minutes but I like him. He has a good work ethic.