This team will likely be better than last year’s model, especially last year’s team after Game 2. There is a really good chance that it will be as good on paper as any Preds squad in the last 4 years. The players lost aren’t that pivotal. The young talent is about ready to carry some of the load on defense. The route to replace the lost forwards plays to GMDP’s (and Trotz’s) strength. There are players to deal, money to spend, picks to trade—the raw materials to pick up at least one true first line NHL forward. Let’s take each of these in turn.
The players lost aren’t that pivotal. Has Steve Sullivan suddenly gotten fast enough and gritty enough to merit $1.5 million a year? Maybe, but not based on last year’s work. Until the panic, most fans would have said it’s nice not to have him take up $3.75 million of our true cap (the midpoint). Is Ward worth $3 million a year? I am not sure Hornqvist’s $3 million is good value, but given the choice of forwards, I am glad we still have Patric. Goc at $1.5 million a year is likely about right. A healthy O’Reilly and Wilson with his head on straight makes his departure less of a concern.
Franson would seem like the biggest loss if he was not the way we got the albatross off our necks. Lombardi was likely not coming back, especially as the speedster we though we acquired. If it took Franson to get rid of Lombardi’s contract, Franson’s true cost to the team was his contract and Lombardi’s—about $4.5 million. That’s a net $3 million after Lebda’s contract and that assumes Lebna is useful only as a paperweight (and that we cannot find some way to get a less expensive paperweight). Cody in 2013 is likely a $3 million p[layer, but not in 2011. Not when it is time for the kids to shine. Blum was a hit and the 3 in the pipeline look as good or better. Plenty has been said about that let's just say we have depth even after deciding O’Brien wasn’t for us. We can change or minds on that, by the way, since the other 29 teams somehow haven't made a place for him on their rosters.
The Bergfors signing is proof once again that you should leave a yard sale if you see Poile pull up. He is going to find the bargains and watching him would just make you feel like a chump holding that broken lamp. One or two more signings and every loss so far would be a wash.
As for the coming true 1st liner, it is rational to be hopeful. This team has spent before. More to the point, spending makes good sense. A small profit was turned into a better one only after 6 playoff home games. Winning a playoff series makes not winning one next year into a real setback. This is not a market that will stay with you if you wonder too long in the wilderness. If you can spend like last year and make money (a formula that worked last year), then spend. I think that what is really behind this angst is the 2007 troubles. Even with local, committed ownership, the ghosts haunt many fans.
We have been hurt before. The fire sale of 2007 marked the end of our first good run. If Steve Sullivan’s first game hat trick was the start, the 100 Days of Foppa was the end. This whole post could be about how right now is not like 2007, but informed fans know better. I know informed fans think so despite the fact that folks stumbling on to the site this week would be convinced that the Pred Nation was expecting our team to finish 15th in the West. We aren’t headed that direction. We aren’t in that bad of shape to begin with and there is the expertise and the incentives not to go down that path again.