Last season was not the season fans or the team were looking for. Several factors (injuries, depth, schedule, Covid) all contributed to this teams worst finish in the standings in a few years.
That said, I don't think this team is as bad as it showed in the standings, and we have a lot of good core pieces in place.
To me, the most important part of this offseason will not to cave to media (perhaps ownership) pressure and to make a big splash. It should be about steady forward progress of clearing bad contracts, and getting the core resigned. Last year, I started the thread by saying:
and I stand by that. Now the clock is set to tick on the second year, need more players to move, and keep clearing out the contractsJB needs to be building the team for 2 years from now.
We have not a lot of cap space, and a lot of players will be on the move.
Out from last year: Vesey, Boyd, Virtanen (Possibly?), Benn. Just walk away from this bucket of bolts. There will be lots of spare parts laying around still a month after Free Agency opens, no need to overpay for anything. Erickson is still in a category all to his own, reserved for those special players that should be treated like treasures and buried. Literally. I don't mean the minors.. if he doesn't retire or fail the physical, put him in a hole, and fill the hole with dirt.. If Virtanen can get ahead of his personal issues, I would give him 20 games to see if he has matured from this little life experience of his.. unless he is guilty. If he is guilty, then bury him beside Louise.
The lineup coming back:
Miller (5.25) - Petey (RFA)- Boesser (5.8)
Pearson (3.25) - Horvat (5.5) - Hoglander (.89)
Podkolzin (hopefully makes team!!@.9) - <need a player> - <Need a player ?>
Motte (1.25)- Beagle (hope to upgrade 3.0) - MacEwen (.825)
Hughes (RFA) - Schmidt (5.9)
Juolevi - Myers (6.0)
<Edler or Hamonic (2.0)> - <need player>
Podkolzin has been reported to be NHL ready, so looks like a third line spot is his to lose. Everyone knows I don't believe in 'gifting' a spot to a player, but with the lack of depth, he has to mess up training camp bad to not make the team. Joulevi needs to spend this offseason learning how to pivot, or we are looking for a 2nd pairing defenceman.
With the Expansion Draft, we are looking at losing a player who would cost us only a roster spot and cap space, of which we need to free up both. The expansion draft can do nothing but good for us, as this team is not deep enough to lose anything of value, and any asset they choose will have a cap space moving with it. The ONLY way to fuck this up is to make a big splash trade prior to expansion and then having to expose an asset, or give away a different asset to get protection on it With the lack of depth, we can't afford to give 2 assets to improve one. We need to sit tight until after Xdraft day.
RFA's: (other than Hughes and Petey)
Hawyrluk - I am torn on this. a short term contract, for less than a millon. If it doesnt work, trade at TDD for a bag of pucks
Michaleis - Walk away. Cut him loose. Our 4th line is already full
Edler - I would take him back at anything less than 2M (plus incentives), on a one year contract. Resign (if he wants) after Xdraft
Hamonic - If Hamonic wants to resign for 2m or less again, all for it. Otherwise He can walk
Chatfield - He can walk. If he signs, its only to play in Utica.. But I prefer he walks so there is no confusion amongst media and fans as to his role.
Sutter - If Sutter wants to come back for 2.5M or less, he can, only if Beagle is taken in Xdraft or traded. Cant have both on this team
Graovac - I would resign on a one way contract at less than a million for 1-2 years. good size and speed, plays Center. could work for 4th line.
Bailey - if he wants to sign a 2 way contract, sure. He can play for Utica. If he walks, I am ok with that as I dont want media and fans confused.
If we are looking at players outside the organization to fill roles and needs, we are really just looking for a hard hitting 5-6 defenseman who can skate, and a third line center, third line winger. We will also have to replace whomever we lose in the expansion draft. We also need number 13 and 14 forward and a number 8 defenseman who can slot in for injuries. We don't have the organizational depth for injury call ups. These players should be able to be found after free agency, be defensively responsible, PK, Hit and skate. This teams bottom 6 needs to be harder to play against, and we lack depth. Its a simple as that.
On the Farm, there is no surefire prospects in the system, except for Dipetro. If we need a goalie, we have one. If we call him up, we need a career minor leaguer to fill in. I think a year (or perhaps a 1/2 year, depending on development) of starting full time in the minors would be good for Mikey, and if we don't lose Holtby in the Xdraft, he will get his games down there and be ready for full time backup in 2022.
Lind - had a look last season. Needs a good camp to have a shot. Could fight for 4th line spot and push up Motte to the third line
Gadjovich - needs another year of development. could work as a short term injury call up for MacEwen. Still needs improvement.
Woo - needs more seasoning. Wont make the team, but could develop for a shot next year.
Lockwood - is interesting. If he has an incredible Camp, Might try and make the team out of camp. doubtful, I don't see him making a huge leap.
Rafferty - this is his last camp to impress, if he doesn't make the leap this year, he is trade bait for a 7th round pick.
Jurmo - I have not seen him play, so I have no opinion. I am sure others here will comment.
All in all, if the team gets lucky with injuries, and picks up the new defensive systems quickly, they will challenge for playoffs as the Pacific division is weaker than the French army in 1939. If the injury bug strikes again, we don't have the depth to survive any prolonged suffering, especially if its the top 6 forwards or top 3 defense..
we need to have a good draft, not get blitzed in free agency (getting 2-3 depth guys to add to team would be ok), not do any crazy signings or trades (just say NO to OEL!) and ride out the rest of Luongo and the bad contracts. 2022, we can have a serious look at addressing organizational needs.