4. Who left you wanting them to tap into their skillbase and give you more?
AJ: Mueller left me all kinds of sad because he is such a great player, but there were things that he just was not able to overcome in Phoenix. Two players that always give premium heart are Boedker and Prucha, but a lot of the time I wish they had more goals to show for the effort they put out.
Michael: Maybe Winnik, but he does try so hard each game and get so close. Perhaps next season he’ll break-through and turn all those scoring chances he has into goals.
Ashley: Mueller before he was traded. Overall, I would have like more consistency from Korps.
CK: Two part answer: Jovo for the regular season, and Hanzal for the playoffs. Regular season Jovo will always be regular season Jovo, and I get that. I still always expect more from him though…Cest la vie. Hanzal looked a step or two off in the Detroit series, and it showed with how often he was sent to the box.
Jordan: Certainly it was disappointing that last year’s rookies Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker and Viktor Tikhonov didn’t make an impact with the NHL club this year. While I think their maturation at the AHL level will probably reap dividends in the future, I was a bit disappointed to not see them finding that next level. Certainly Peter Mueller’s play prior to his trade was highly disappointing. I think we can also hope to see more consistent play from Petr Prucha and Lauri Korpikoski next year. While each showed flashes of greatness, I think both disappointed a little for the entire season.
Mo: Pyatt – he’s got the tools, he just needs to believe.
5. Of the Pups that may come up next year (Max, Oliver, Turris, Teek, Boedker, Schlemko, MacLean), who are you are most excited to see, why and who do you think can stay with the team?
AJ: I am ultra, ultra, ultra excited to see Oliver Ekman-Larsson at camp. He showed great promise at prospect camp last summer and with his showing at the World Championships, I pray that he can stay with the NHL club if we lose Z. I think that Boedker and Tikhonov will stay up next year, and maybe even Turris, depending on how he is able to handle camp.
Michael: I think either Oliver or Schlemko will the ones who can stay with the team, but I am most excited for Oliver or Boedker again. Perhaps Turris and Teek too to see how far they’ve come.
Ashley: I am most excited to see MacLean because I watched him play in the OHL and followed him when he played in the World Juniors. I think he has the potential to stay with the team, Brad told us they were hoping to have him play this year but the lack of injuries made it harder to bring him up.
CK: I can’t wait to have Oliver Ekman-Larsson come up and show his skills on the NHL level. I think he will be a quality addition to the defense already in place.
Jordan: I’m most excited to see Turris to see if he has put on some bulk and has figured out how to do the little things to succeed at this level. Of the young guns, I think Boedker will be most likely to stay with the team for the entire season and I think he can find a lot of success playing on the wing with Scottie and Lombo (bring him back, GMDM!)
Mo: OEL & Goncharov ~ Regardless of what happens with Z, we will have a spot on our blueline, and possibly two if we trade Vandermeer. Boedker & Maclean ~ excited to see them battle for a spot, even though GMDM says Turris is most likely to stick around.
6. What one UFA and one RFA are you most concerned about getting signed and how do you see their role on the team?
AJ: Anyone that knows me in the least knows the answer to this. Stempniak and Wolski. They are my favor……..ha! I almost got that out! We need to sign Z. We need to lock down Hanzal. Everyone else is just details.
Michael: Z or Lombo for UFAs because they are essential to our team structure. And for RFA it’d be Hanzal cause we already signed Uppy. So Hanzal is important on the PK and he can score, I love the way he plays.
Ashley: RFA = Winnik – cause my husband will be sad if he leaves, and I like him as a player. He is getting better every year! UFA = Oakie – cause he is my best friend and we haz mad jokes! (It’s true, they do)
CK: UFA: Z is the one that stands out for me, even though I wasn’t pleased with his game in the playoffs. RFA: Now that Uppy resigned, Hanzal needs a contract. Keep the Czechs together!
Jordan: For UFA, I’m most concerned about Matthew Lombardi. I think he just brings so much to the team in terms of his speed and skill in the faceoff circle. He had a great year last year and has great chemistry with Scottie Upshall that I think it is important to bring him back as our number one pivot. (I think Z is also hugely important, but with Sauer coming back and our depth at the blue line, he may not be as vital to our success next year). As for an RFA, the team MUST re-sign Martin Hanzal who has become one of the top shut-down centers in all of hockey.
Mo: UFA: Z – leadership, stability for the Czechs, Bryzzie’s right hand extra stopping power. RFA: Wolski: example of go for it-ness, creativity, how to be a sniper
7: Are there any UFA’s out there that you would want GMDM to take a hard look at?
AJ: Alexander Frolov has Lombardi-ish numbers, but would probably be too expensive for us. Max Afinogenov had 24 goals and 37 assists, making under a million last year. We could upgrade his contract and still make him affordable. I’m honestly more worried about signing Z and maybe Lombo. GMDM is more about making insane trades than luring in random passer-byers.
Michael: Not really.
Ashley: Andrew Ladd – he played with a fractured shoulder in the playoffs…that’s hardcore!
CK: Honestly, I’m not that excited by the UFA’s out there this summer. I’m thinking GMDM makes some shrewd trades this summer to further build the team.
Jordan: One guy that intrigued me last year that I think may be a good fit is Alex Tanguay who struggled last year in TB, but might be a nice scoring winger here. Also, on the defensive end, there are a number of guys like Dan Hamhuis or Jordan Leopold that could help if Z isn’t re-signed.
Mo: Way too many to name: There will be a bumper crop of players available because their GMs didn’t budget wisely enough to keep them.