Ramapithecines 2013

The Ramapithecines

L: Vanek-Buf, Ray.Whitney-Dal, Clowe-SJ, Steen-StL RFA, Gerbe-Buf P1, Wilson-Nsh P1

Rating: 3.5

Vanek is still a top tier sniper, but average for a FUNHL #1. Whitney is older than dirt, but had a fantastic season last year, and moves to a Dallas team that has many more weapons than Phx did. Clowe is a dynamite 3rd iner because of his toughness, and is a reliable offensive producer even when shifted away from the goon role. Steen is a nice stop gap should one of the higher end guys get hurt, but isn't likely to threaten anyone's spot or create confusion about who should be dressing. Gerbe is at the age now where he should be a reliable contributer to the Buffalo offense, but unless he takes a significant step forward he'll be most useful as an injury replacement for Vanek should the big Austrian get hurt. Wilson is only an average skater, but has above average shooting abilities. If Nashville can figure out how to maximize his talents, he could turn into a top 6 forward.

C: Tavares-NYI FP, J.Staal-Car, Ennis-Buf RFA, Berglund-StL RFA, Grabovski-Tor P3, Burmistrov-Wpg P2, Bjugstad-Fla P1

Rating: 2.5

Tavares has blossomed into the all-round gunner that his junior stats predicted him to be, even flashing some unexpected speed and passing ability that wasn't there previously. Staal has a chance to be a dominant #2 pivot in Carolina, with more powerplay time than he recieved in Pittsburgh where he was blocked by Malkin and Crosby. Ennis is a waterbug scoring forward who must find a way to win puck battles despite his thin and underweight frame. Berglund is the opposite of Ennis possessing a thick and muscular frame but lacking the high-end offensive abilities of Ennis. Berglund could well be transitioned into a 3rd line shutdown pivot role as a result. Grabovski is a 'Mr.Everything' type of center, gritty, fast, and with a decent amount of skill - but he is miscast as a 1st line forward. Burmistrov flashes high-end talent, but not consistently enough to make a top line. Bjugstand is a beast of a prospect standing 6'5"  and with excellent speed and above average shot. Florida is taking their time with a large number of decent prospects though, so his development could be slow-tracked.

R: Neal-Pit RFA, Semin-Car, Ju.Williams-LA, Dorsett-Clb RFA, Stewart-R StL P1

Rating: 4

Neal is the coke to Malkin's rum, an ideal compliment. Since landing in Pitt, he's transformed into a full-blooded power forward with eilte goal scoring abilities, and he has one of the world's best players feeding him soft passes for one-timers. Semin is the ultimate 'boom-bust' proposition. He could lead the team in goals and scoring, or he could be so indifferent that he is threatened by Dorsett for a spot in the lineup. Williams is among the most injury prone players in the league having collected a Martin Straka like array of dings and nicks over the years. If healthy he's an ideal 3rd liner who scores like a 2nd liner. Doresett is a slow skating thug, one of the few heavyweights not yet purged from the league. Stewart has slid downhill rapidly since emerging as a legit powerforward two years ago. As a prospect he's perfect as you can wait for the lights to go on again before risking him in the lineup. With a wide-body powerful frame, and excellent skating and hands for a man his size, he should find his way to 30 goals again - at some point.

D: Chara-Bos FP, Edler-Vcr, Wisniewski-Clb, Timonen-Pha RFA, Boychuk-Bos RFA, Mitchell-LA RFA, Jackman-StL RFA, Del Zotto-NYR RFA, Elliot-Col

Rating: 3.5

Chara is such a statistical monster he almost single handedly elevates the D above average. Edler is an excellent #2 as his offensive abilities dove-tail nicely with the deep strong team he is part of. Wisniewski could be an excellent #3, but he needs to prove his contract year scoring wasn't a fluke, and that he can reproduce it in Columbus. Timonen is halfway out the door to a Euro scout position. He's battled several tough injuries the last few years, has seen his skillset erode markedly, and lost his partner in crime Chris Pronger permanently. He's also 38 years old, and I predict this is the last we see of him as a top 4 defender. Boychuk has a chance at putting up decent +/- if the Bruins dominate again, but otherwise will be hard pressed to be anything but a depth defender. Mitchell and Jackman are defense first guys who stand a good chance of being waiver draft fodder. Del Zotto had a breakout offensively with the Rangers, and he could easily be moved all the way up to #4 on the depth chart. Elliot stalled somewhat in his development last year, but has the talent to possibly make the Av's this year, and the Knuckledraggers next.

G: Luongo-Vcr RFA, Elliot-StL RFA, Brodeur-NJ P1

Rating: 3.5

Seems strange to give the above collection of netminders only a slightly above average rating, but the fact is that each comes with serious question marks. Luongo is a legit top 5 guy in Vancouver, but if he stays there he will split time with Schneider, and if he is moved he won't have Vcr's excellent D in front of him (and if he goes to Toronto or Florida as rumoured the D will be either mediocre or terrible). Elliot had fantastic numbers for St Louis, but he is platooned with Halak and until something is resolved there they will split games roughly evenly. Brodeur is a 1st ballot hall-of-famer, but he's now 40+ and the once vaunted NJ defense is a hollow shell of what it used to be.

Total: 17

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