Blade Runners 2013
The Blade Runners
L: Sharp-Chi, Heatley-Min, Foligno-Clb RFA, Sullivan-Phx RFA, Landeskog-Col P2
Sharp always has a home on one of the top two lines in Chicago, whether it is as a 1st line LW or 2nd line C, and his ppg-ish pace rates as a solid if average 1st line winger. Heatley. Ah Heatley. The steady and unbroken decline of his game from the heights of his 50goal 100pt seasons in Ottawa continues unabated. His wheels are no longer even average, and he's rapidly becoming a spot-shooting powerplay specialist with an untradeable contract hit. If he has a 'come to Jesus' moment and takes up fitness with a religious zeal he might carve out a 3rd act to his career that mirrors Owen Nolan's or Gary Roberts, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Foligno is a rough and tumble sort with enough skills to ply his trade from the 2nd or 3rd line, as a FUNHL player though, he's bordering on merely replacement level. Sullivan's body needs constant repair, and if he didn't rebound for decent totals in Pittsburgh, he isn't going to suddenly do so in Phoenix. Landeskog should leapfrog everyone but Sharp on the depth chart and become a solid if average 2nd line winger at the FUNHL level in his sophmore year.
C: Stamkos-TBay FP, Backstrom-Wsh FP, Benn-Dal RFA, Ott-Buf RFA, Johanssen-Clb P3, MacKinnon-OHL P2
The rating assumes that Backstrom's injury isn't super serious, because if he is healthy, it's the deepest and most talented set of pivots in the league. Stamkos is a fast Brett Hull, Backstrom is a fast Adam Oates, and Benn is quickly rising into the class of big-skill 2-way pivots that includes Anze Kopitar. So, yeah, that would be 3 no. 1 pivots the roster is built around. Ott is a dirtbag, but he's never expected to dress except in case of emergency, and even then Johanssen could probably jump ahead of him. MacKinnon is the future - and despite a moderate to weak WJC performance, the future looks bright.
R: Purcell-TBay, Voracek-Pha, Jagr-Dal, Clarckson-NJ RFA, Tarasenko-StL P3, Yakupov-Edm P2
If at the end of the year the order of RW's was completely reversed (Yakupov, Tarasenko, Clarckson as the top 3) would anyone be totally surprised? Purcell is something of an enigma to me, he's big, strong, and decently skilled, but I don't trust late bloomers to retain their stats year over year. Voracek is a very good possession winger guaranteed to have a decent centerman, but he often seems less than the sum of his parts. Jagr is still ridiculously skilled and dominant on the wall and half-boards, but his in-game speed has clearly declined significantly. If he can avoid another groin injury (good luck with that), he could flirt with a ppg. Clarckson is a nice hybrid goon/scorer, but his volatility (and the presence of other decent RW with more reliable offense) makes giving him a roster spot iffy. Tarasenko has immense talent and could step right into one of StLouis' top lines. Yakupov had a cruddy WJC, but he still flashes a Mogilny/Gartner skill-set that could mesh well with Edmonton's youth movement.
D: Subban-Mtl RFA, Kronwall-Det, Goligoski-Dal, Petry-Edm RFA, Quincey-Det RFA, Josi-Nsh RFA, Gilbert-Min RFA, Ekman-Larsson-Phx P3, Hamilton-Bos P2
The top three is nice; Subban, Kronwall and Goligoski, and Ekman-Larsson could move into the top 4, but Gilbert? Quincey? Josi? Jeff Petry? Yikes. Subban is the all-round heavy minute workhorse teams love to build around, and may flirt with FP quality stats. Kronwall is not and never will be the next Lidstrom. He is however, the next Konstantinov, which is pretty good, but not great. Goligoski was the price extracted from Pitt for coughing up 40 goal scorer James Neal. He's a slick pp QB with occasional injury issues. If everything goes right in Dallas he could compete with Subban for best offensive producer on the blue. Ekman-Larrson is emerging as a monster talent with all the right boxes checked off; size, speed, wingspan, runs the powerplay, heavy shot, safe in his own zone, quick first pass, etc. But he's in Phoenix where talent goes to shrivel and wither in the sun. Hamilton is probably a year away from being a productive D-man for Boston, but he is 'toolsy' in the way Ekman-Larsson is - only he's even bigger at 6'5". The rest (Gilbert, Quincey, Petry, Josi) are a stale collection of offensive defensemen without much offense, and AHL al-stars filling out an NHL rosters bottom rungs.
G: Quick-LA, Halak-StL RFA, Bernier-LA P2
Hard to argue with Quick being the starting netminder, but if anyone can displace him it would be Halak in StLouis (after an Elliott injury). Bernier is the perfect prospect backup for Quick should he get injured.