Great Whites 2013
The Great Whites
L: Pacioretty-Mtl, Lupul-Tor, Brown-LA RFA, Umberger-Clb RFA
A lot has to go right for this collection of left wingers to be anything other than average or worse. Pacioretty is on the upswing of his career, and has 30 goal talent with a good playmaking center riding shotgun. Lupul is line-dependent, and has bounced from team to team to team because he lacks consistency in tapping his talent. Brown is the end-game product that Pacioretty could become, a gritty goal scoring forward who is hard to play against. Umberger is utility forward with a weightlifters build who can slot in to any forward spot outside of the top line. All four are high injury risk players who rarely, if ever, play a full season.
C: Giroux-Pha FP, Couture-SJ RFA, Henrique-NJ RFA, Fisher-Nsh RFA
Giroux is a sublime offensive talent capable of leading the league in scoring. Couture has gradually developed into an above average 2nd line center, albeit one whose ceiling may have been reached. Henrique has a good base of skills to develop from, but as of yet he hasn't shown he can be a true top end producer. Fisher is a #1 center in Nsh by default, but is really better suited to a 2nd role on a deeper team. Fisher could easily take over Henrique's spot if he falters.
R: Pavelski-SJ, Doan-Phx, Neil-Ott RFA, Peverley-Bos RFA, Stone-Ott P1
Pavelski is an all-round utility forward who can play anywhere from the top line wing to the 3rd line center. Unfortunately, he is not a powerplay specialist of any kind (not an elite; shooter, passer, or net crasher), but is a solid defensive specialist - so his ice-time tends to skew towards the non-scoring kind. Doan is playing out the string of a borderline hall of fame career, but is best suited as a depth (3rd line or lower) at this stage of his FUNHL evaluation. Neil has the ability to be an elite FUNHL enforcer, but t's been two or three years since he's produced like that - largely because of injuries and diminishing role of the fighter. Peverley is a nifty universal forward who can be spotted (like Pavelski) all over an NHL lineup. Like Pavelski though, he lacks any elite offensive gifts that would open up significant powerplay opportunities for him. Stone is a terrific gunner with an aresenal of shots, fakes, and feints. If his skating can get up to league average he could terrorize goaltenders for a long time. If the GW's could add a top end elite producer each player would slot more appropriately (Pavelski as a #2, Doan as #3), as it stands, they will likely be overmatched at each slot.
D: Weber-Nsh, Giordano-Cgy, Bogosian-Wpg, Spurgeon-Min RFA, Faulk-Car RFA, Seidenberg-Bos RFA, Klein-Nsh RFA, Brewer-TBay RFA, Depres-Pit P3, Murphy-Car P3, Murray-Clb P2, Ceci-Ott P1, Reinhart-NYI P1, Ristolainen-SEL P1
Weber is simply a beast, albeit a beast with a question mark as to how he will perform without side-kick Ryan Suter. Giordano is a feisty undersized two-way defenseman with grit and energy in the mold of Kevin Bieksa. Unfortunately the arrival of powerplay specialist Wideman to the Calgary blue-line will likely steal from his ice-time there. Bogosian is tracking a similar development path to Shea Weber, big, bruising, productive defenseman who can play in all situations. May never have the offensive totals of Weber (he lacks the overpowering shot), but all the other elements are there. He's also injury prone, and is just recovered from off-season wrist surgery. Spurgeon may have already peaked as an NHL powerplay specialist (ala MA Bergeron), as the arrival of Suter in Min is likely to erase the role he is best suited for. Faulk is developing nicely in Carolina and if he stays on track could become the GW's legit #4 this year. Seidenberg is a gamble at +/-, or Chara getting hurt, but not much more. Klein has Weber's size and shot, but none of his accuracy or mobility, as such he'll likely plateau as a depth FUNHL defender. Brewer is the ultimate 'all tools, no tool box' defenseman. He's big, skates well, is physical, etc., but can't seem to ever put together anything like an elite season defensively or offensively. And then we have the prospects! No secret the GW's LOVE their D-man prospects, and why not? They have almost all of them! Depres is among a cadre of D developing in the Pittsburgh system, but unlike the others (Morrow, Pouliot, Maata, etc.), Depres is more two-way than offensive or defensively minded - which may make it easier to plug him onto the Pens sooner rather than later. Murphy and Murray are both Scott Niedermayer-lite, fast skating offensive D-men capable of playing in all situations, and likely to be screwed up permanently by their coaches from ever having a Paul Coffey like breakthrough. Ceci is a nice addition to his group, and will get plenty of time to learn his craft before Ottawa brings him up - did not make the Canadian WJC team. Reinhart did make the team, but frankly sucked after doing so. Has impressive size, skating ability and reach, but it doesn't look like he is processing the game at the right level yet as he makes bad passes, and poor defensive reads that he should be moving beyond by now. Impressive physical specimen he could be fast-tracked by the Islanders (i.e., he makes the team this year). Ristolainen is an offensive defenseman out of Finland hoping to crack the top 10 of next years ED, or to put it another way, he was the GW lock-out insurance.
G: Price-Mtl FP, Varlamov-Col RFA, Campbell-Dal P3
Price is an elite netminder behind a less than elite defense that is clearly in flux. Varlamov has taken over in Colorado and appears to be the future of their goaltending. Campbell is a highly regarded prospect that has had two poor/injury filled years in a row for Dallas' farm team. Hopes remain high, but he's still a ways from cracking an NHL lineup.