The Knights Templar
L: Naslund, Whitney, Simon, Knuble, Sejna-P2, Upshall-P1, Olesz-P1
Naslund is now firmly entrenched as one the leagues elite scorers. Whitney is a mercenary winger capable of close to ppg stats and indifferent defense. He has injury risk associated with him as well. Simon is a heavyweight with 25 goal hands. He could surpass Whitney on the depth chart if he gets on a roll. Knuble is line dependent, but could have a career year which would still max him out as a 2nd line winger. Sejna has missed the bus on establishing an NHL career, and will join a host of other solid college players who couldn’t crack the big leagues. Upshall is being groomed to become an energy line forward, so don’t expect offense from him. Olesz is a potential scoring forward with high skill, but he has to grow into his toolbox first. Long term potential is good.
C: Richards, Savard, Roenick, Rucchin, O’Sullivan-P1
Richards should be a solid bet for ppg or better – though speculation he’ll post century plus totals this year are overblown. Savard is a high skill pivot made of glass. He’ll be awesome right up to the point he gets hurt. Roenick is playing out the string now in LA. No longer fearsome with his speed, he’ll have to rely on his all-round offensive skills to contribute meaningfully, but injuries are robbing him of time. Rucchin is a 4th line grinder, and shouldn’t see duty barring injury to players ahead of him. O’Sullivan is a solid prospect, but playing for the Wild will mean the GM has to be patient to realize his potential.
R: Hejduk, Bertuzzi, Selanne, Sim, Ruutu-P3
Hejduk is now one of the elite goalscorers. Bertuzzi has recovered from his enforced absence and is returning to the ultimate warrior status he had before the Moore incident. Could easily supplant Hejduk as the top starboard gunner, especially if he goons it up. Selanne is done. The wheels aren’t elite anymore and he has degraded to being a stealth winger most useful on the powerplay. Sad really. Sim will be back in the AHL before Christmas, but with Tuomo Ruutu about to return from injury that’s ok. Ruutu has all the tools to become an elite winger/centre, including a booming shot and fierce physical play.
D: Schneider, Redden, Berard-P3, Dempsey, Lydman, Malakhov, Havelid, Dandenault, Weber-P1
Schneider, Redden and Berard make for an average top 3. Cyclops is the weakest link of the trio, but so far he’s been good enough to earn his keep. Dempsey, Lydman and the rest are various forms of filler, and any or all of them could be gone after the next WD. Weber is a brutal hitting rearguard but doesn’t seem to have the offense in his game to bring it to the FUNHL level. Still, he’s a serious prospect.
G: Giguere, Denis, Aebischer-P4
Jiggy has a year of mediocrity to overcome, but should be a solid starter. Denis has talent to burn, but has yet to put together a full year that warrants being dressed. Aebischer could easily supplant either netminder for full-time duty.