L: Kovalchuk, Tkachuk, Nagy, Roberts, Pyatt-P3
Kovalchuk is the world’s purest sniper at the moment, capable of 60 goals if the stars align themselves properly. Tkachuk showed up to camp out of shape (by 30lbs), and then promptly got hurt as he tried to play himself back into game-shape. He should rebound to close to a ppg once he returns, but his lack of effort in the off-season is worrisome. Nagy is emerging as a genuine threat on the portside. He could easily reach the ppg mark for a full season if he avoids injury. However, he is slightly built and has suffered setbacks the last two years running. Roberts is an aging warrior who has already seen the inside of an ambulance this year. He’ll be in tough to make a regular contribution. Pyatt is on the Brad May track and doesn’t appear to have the skill set to get himself out of it.
C: Datsyuk, Koivu, Drury, Conroy
Undersized as a quartet, they still have excellent scoring punch. Datsyuk in particular has taken off as a true #1 capable of ppg+ stats. Koivu is now too fragile to count on for a full season, but in the games he does play he usually gets something. An excellent #2. Conroy has had a blazing start to his season, but we know it’s a mirage for the long term. He’ll settle in nicely as a #3 with upside. Drury is the perfect injury replacement from the 4th line. He won’t trouble any of the three pivots ahead of him, but he’s a solid plug-n-play if needed.
R: Guerin, Walker, Williams, Getzlaf, Fehr-P1
Rating: Guerin is a legit ppg threat with PIM upside if needed, but he is getting a bit long in the tooth to expect 40 goals from him. Walker is also a good blend of scoring and PIM, but his ceiling is well established around 60 points. Williams is the wrong Williams to be excited about. He may turn out to be an above average checker or even a decent third liner, but don’t hold your breath for more. Getzlaf will be groomed to take on power-winger duties, but isn’t ready for prime-time yet. Fehr has all the skills to be an offensive threat, but is still growing into his bean-pole frame – he’s a younger version of Joe Nieuwendyk if he puts it all together.
D: Leopold, Kubina, Visnovsky, Vishnevski, Bouwmeester, McGillis, Kaberle F., Regehr, Whitney-P3, Grebeshekov-P2, Zizka-P2, Koltsov-P2
Leopold has upside, but has never cracked 40 points to make him legit as a top-end defender. Kubina is slowly devolving into a defensive defenseman. Visnovsky has wicked pp skills, and could take over as the top blue-liner. Bouwmeester is still probably a year or more away from being the impact defender expected, but he’ll contribute this year nonetheless. McGillis and Regehr are filler. Kaberle the elder could also end up as the top defenseman, if only by default. Whitney has a solid future, but Grebeshekov, Zizka and Kolstov are all in the minors without obvious reason to call them up.
G: Theodore, Roloson, Gerber-P2
Theodore is one of the elite, but he has a tendency to follow an awesome year with a mediocre one – making this likely to be an awesome year. Roloson is an excellent back-up as he is unlikely to challenge for the top spot, but can fill in whenever necessary. Gerber is a project, and one that may well have been derailed by the emergence of Cam Ward in Carolina.
Overall Rating: 16