Monday, August 30, 2010

Remaining UFA's: Potential Value Signings Ahead

Credit to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail, who has put together a list of value signings yet to be made in the free agent market – as of August 30, 2010. Let’s take a look at a segment of these remaining unsigned free agents, pinpoint some strengths, and identify which teams could be a fit for these players.

Antti Niemi – While I believe he has been slightly overvalued in the market, there are a number of teams that would have use for this guy. San Jose’s goaltending tandem includes Greiss and Nittymaki, a couple of back-ups in my mind. San Jose needs timely goaltending in the playoffs – something Niemi has proven capable of providing. Above all, his 2.5-3.5 million dollar price tag is reasonable for a starting goalie in the NHL.

Kim Johnsson – Isn’t Washington desperately looking to trade for a solid defenseman? Why sacrifice components of that explosive offense, when you can sign a guy like Kim Johnsson? He has fallen out of favor quickly because of a lengthy injury, but he was a proven top-four defenseman one season ago. No need to take on Souray’s 4 million dollar salary, when you can sign a cheaper, more defensively reliable option in Johnsson.

Owen Nolan – Surprised Nolan is still kicking around, considering some of the older players that have been signed in recent weeks. As a role player, Nolan can do it all. He’s a former captain; he can grind it out, play tough, penalty kill, and score. Even since he turned 35, he has shown he can still score between 15-25 goals per season. If I were a young team like the Oilers, Blues or Islanders, I would be looking to add Nolan’s veteran leadership to the fold. Not just a dressing room bonus: this guy can still contribute.

Brendan Morrison – Very capable second or third-line option. Given his history with Burke and the need for depth up the middle in TO, I could see Morrison fitting in well as a 3rd line centreman with the Leafs. He’s not getting any younger, but he’s still a solid player that can put up points.

Jose Theodore – I must admit, I haven’t seen near enough consistency from this guy in recent years. I could see Theodore going unsigned, as there are a number of affordable back-ups still available. He doesn’t differentiate himself enough from that group.

Marek Svatos – Personally, I can’t believe this guy hasn’t been signed yet. Svatos was bumped down the depth chart with the re-structuring in Colorado. A year or two ago, he was scoring some impressive goals and seemed a difference maker. He had a poor year this past season – no question. However, he’s still young, talented, and very affordable considering his upside. I could see him fitting in on a second line in Toronto, Calgary or Ottawa – three teams that struggled to score last season.

Andreas Lilja – valuable 5-6th defenseman, who spent a few seasons under Mike Babcock in Detroit. Boston has some key defensive pieces in place, but could use some shutdown depth. Lilja could provide that an affordable rate.

Kyle Wellwood – He’s got skill, but could use some time away from the limelight. From Toronto to Vancouver, this guy has taken a beating in recent years. With some experience as a scoring component, perhaps a young team like Florida could use Kyle Wellwood as a third line option - pretty quick, some offensive capability, and shootout creativity to boot. Plus, it’s safe to say he can just play hockey in Florida, and not worry about any “Kyle Well-Fed” chants.

Marc-Andre Bergeron – Owns a great shot from the point. He’s a power play specialist, and proved to be a valuable addition to Montreal’s playoff run. His shutdown ability can be sketchy, but he’s a solid point-producer. Also, he’s only 30. Who’s looking for some offensive punch from the back-end? I would suggest Dallas could benefit from a depth signing like Bergeron.

Fredrik Modin – I had viewed this guy as more of a spare part, but I think he proved his value as a two-way role player in the playoffs last season. He’s a bigger body that can kill penalties, and screen the goaltender on the powerplay. While LA didn’t get past the first round, I found Modin to be one of the more notable forces in that series; logging tough minutes and chipping in with some key goals. Modin could provide some playoff intangibles and much-needed grit in San Jose.

Nigel Dawes – How did 29 teams pass on this guy? Surprisingly, Nigel Dawes was placed on waivers by the Flames in late June, and his value has dropped as a result. He collected 875, 000 last season, and contributed with 14 goals. While he’s a smaller player, Dawes has tremendous hands and sees the ice very well. He put up outstanding numbers in Junior, and continues to show flashes of skill. Capable of providing secondary scoring in a second/third line role. Personally, I hope he gets an opportunity somewhere. Dawes could fit in well with Montreal or Carolina.

Miroslav Satan – Miro the Hero for Boston in the playoffs, Satan reminded us that he can still score key goals. Getting up there in age, but he could still compliment a cup contending team with some scoring balance: Washington? Philadelphia? Detroit?

Patrick O’Sullivan – O’Sullivan has suffered the same career decline as many Oilers before him. He was bought out by Edmonton this summer, and has been somewhat forgotten in the process. Still a young player, O’Sullivan experienced a shocking blow to his development since being traded from the Kings. Considering the cash he will be collecting from his buyout, he’s a candidate to become one of the better value signings of the offseason.

With a snapshot of some of the players still available for NHL contracts, we could see an unusually busy September.

Thanks again to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail for his unsigned RFA/UFA lists. Have a look at Mirtle’s article in its entirety here:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2010-2011 Flames Depth (or lack thereof) Chart

In late August, hockey fans can only speculate and anticipate. So what’s the best way to do that?

That’s right: by drawing up your very own depth chart. You get to look at your hometown team subjectively, without having to abide by any rules whatsoever! What you’ll find below is primarily driven by my own personal preferences, so feel free to chip in with feedback in the comment box that follows.

Assumptions being made:

Kotalik does not wear a red jersey in North America

Langkow does not start the season, and is placed on Long Term Injury Reserve

Younger options such as Backlund, Sutter, Stone and Pelech make the big club

The team is not able to rid of any older, slower d men with sizable cap hits

The club remains somewhat intact come Oct 5 – which is impossible, given the cap situation. But who wants to wait ‘til then to construct depth charts? Nobody!

Tanguay Jokinen Iginla

Hagman Stajan Bourque

Glencross Backlund Moss

Sutter Stone Jackman

Extras: Conroy, Ivanans, Langkow (LTIR)

Regehr White

Bouw Giordano

Sarich Pelech

Extras: Staios, Kronwall, Pardy



While I’m a huge Daymond Langkow supporter, and cross my fingers for a speedy recovery, injecting Langks back into the line-up certainly has some interesting ramifications:

Tanguay Jokinen Iginla

Hagman Stajan Bourque

Backlund Langkow Glencross

Sutter Stone Moss

Extras: Conroy, Ivanans, Jackman

… which would make the additions of Ivanans and Jackman almost completely useless.

Everyone take a moment.

Okay, moving on:

Regehr White

Bouw Giordano

Sarich Pelech

Extras: Staios, Kronwall, Pardy



100% completely preference-driven PP and PK line-ups, assuming Langkow is healthy:

PP – 1

Bourque (in front of net)

Iginla (off-wing/faceoff man)

Tanguay (off-wing)

Bouwmeeser (left point man)

Jokinen (right point man)

PP – 2

Langkow (in front of net)

Backlund (left side/faceoff man)

Hagman (off-wing)

White (left point man)

Giordano (right point man)

PK – 1

Langkow Glencross

Regehr White

PK – 2

Stajan Sutter

Giordano Sarich

Regardless of how you see the team shaping up come October 5, there are still multiple unknowns. We’ve all heard “you can never have too many centreman” and “you can never have too much depth on defense.” My belief? You can have too much of both, especially when your 6th/7th defensemen earn between 2.7 and 3.6 million dollars annually, and you’re paying your second and third line centremen 3.5 and 4.5 million dollars respectively. On this team, the cost to maintain depth at either position has proven hefty, especially at the expense of quicker, younger talent.

Having said that, we can’t do anything about the unanswered questions; All we can do is formulate our own ideas behind a computer in late August, in eager anticipation for the start of the NHL season.

So get to it! Assumptions in-tact: If you were in charge, how would the 2010-2011 Calgary Flames line up on opening night?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Realities of Trading Robyn Regehr

We learned this lesson with Dion Phaneuf.

Safe to say Robyn Regehr had an off-year this past season. While rumours are only rumours, there have been two months of trade buzz involving Regehr. Makes you wonder if there’s smoke where there’s fire after all. Let’s not forget, we endured constant Phaneuf talk last season, and yet many of us (myself included) shut down the possibility of a deal. Darryl himself completely rejected the idea, and Dion was sent packing weeks later. So can we really dismiss this Regehr chatter completely?

Darryl was asked about the core heading into the offseason, and indicated that Jarome was going nowhere. Just like that, all of those wild Iginla rumours were silenced.

On July 2nd, Darryl was asked about the “pending” Regehr for Savard deal. He rejected the Savard portion of the question, but was asked a more specific question about a trade involving Regehr, and replied with “The names of good players will be associated with other good players.” He could have replied with “Robyn is going nowhere” or “we have no interest in trading Regehr” or “there’s no truth to any of that.” Instead, he left us hanging.

Let me start off by saying that I would prefer to see Robyn Regehr on this team next season. Why? Because within the last few years, the Flames have become much easier to play against. On top of Reggie’s impressive defensive numbers, he is one of the sole factors the Dome remains a tough place to play. Ask Gaborik, Kopitar or Hemsky how they feel streaking down the wing, staring straight at Regehr’s scowl. He takes big stars out of the game by picking them up and throwing them against the boards. He’s solid positionally, he’s massive, and he makes it difficult to play the Calgary Flames. Above all, he hates to lose; the same can’t always be said for Jokinen, Iginla, Hagman, Tanguay, Bouwmeester, etc. When the team gets embarrassed, it’s Regehr that gets angry – no clich├ęs, no long-winded explanations. He takes it hard, and has visibly shown frustration with players that do not demonstrate such passion. Here’s what it would look like to face the Flames without Regehr:

Bouw Staios
Sarich White
Pardy Pelech

Subtracting Phaneuf AND Regehr from the equation certainly leaves a softer blueline. With both White and Giordano set to hit free agency next summer, can we really afford to lose another star defenseman?

To me, Robyn Regehr is still a very valuable component for this team, which is why I’m baffled with his diminished trade value after one “off-year” last season. These are only rumours with little-to-no merit, but let’s take a look at what’s been drifting around the blogosphere this summer:

Langkow, Regehr for Spezza (no longer applicable, considering Spezza’s no trade clause has since kicked-in)
Regehr for Marc Savard
Regehr for Tim Connolly
Regehr for Derek Roy
Regehr for Wayne Simmonds

For a moment, let's forget the individual components of these deals. Most of these possibilities involve centremen. With Jokinen, Stajan and Langkow all signed on for next season (a combined 11 M against the cap – assuming Langkow is healthy), why would it make any sense to deal yet another star defenseman away to transition another 3-4 million dollars worth of salary up the middle? To me, it wouldn’t. More and more money would be shifted down the depth chart, and you'd have a wealth of $3M third-liners. On top of all of this, you better be sure Regehr is looking to get dealt, because asking him to waive his NTC and being rejected could hamper the relationship moving forward - and that would be the worst-case scenario.

To note Regehr's decline in market value, let’s take a look at a couple of moves made this offseason involving defensemen:

Matt Walker, 4th round pick for Simon Gagne (wow)
Dennis Wideman, 1st round pick for Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell (wow)

When comparing the value of assets like Gagne and Horton to that of Connolly, it’s clear Robyn’s market value has dropped considerably. With this in mind, I would argue that Regehr’s contributions to this team are far greater than any asset you could get in return. To me, his value to this team goes beyond the stats sheet.

So tell me, would you trade Robyn Regehr? And if so, what would you seek in return?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fourth Line Depth, and the Consequence of Loyalty

As many of us have recently heard, Craig Conroy has signed on for one more year: A two-way deal at the league minimum. These Conroy extensions always seem to baffle me. Not because I don’t support the player, or his value to the team, but because this act of loyalty appears very out of character for Darryl Sutter. Usually, if a player comes in, misses 20-some games due to injury and racks up a meager 15 points, he is hardly given a second look. In Conroy’s case, the last two disappointing seasons have resulted in one-year extensions. This seems to be a recurring PR-type transaction, for a management team that cares very little about popular moves that would appeal to fans in any way. Conroy is a special guy, and a valuable support player. On a two-way deal, I can’t find many negatives in retaining this guy… but it does provide some interesting consequences.

In the last month, there have been several fourth line/AHL additions:

Raitis Ivanans – Phew, thank goodness we signed this guy 4 hours in to the start of Free Agency. A fighter, who hangs in there but doesn’t throw many punches. Very limited ability, outside of being gigantic.

Tim Jackman – Phew, thank goodness we signed this guy 4 hours in to the start of Free Agency. Very similar role to that of Ivanans. Tough for me to fathom signing two slow fighters (Ivanans, Jackman) on one-way contracts, and then explaining the moves by saying “we wanted guys that can play.” Does that not sound backwards to anyone else? I thought Brandon Prust and Fredrik Sjostrom were very effective fourth liners. But I suppose bigger and slower works too.

Ryan Stone – Speedy, gritty guy who has had an impact with very limited NHL exposure.

Brett Sutter – Well, he’s a Sutter. His skill set is less than impressive, but he works hard and serves as a great PK option.

John Armstrong – Plagued by injuries from day 1, but this guy has continued to impress when he’s actually able to lace ‘em up. While limited, he seems to have some offensive upside.

Stefan Meyer – Great Junior career. Recent AHL/NHL play resembles that of a speedy agitator, which could be of value to the big club.

Cam Cunning – Don’t know much about this guy, but he was the first Flame re-signed this offseason, so he must be doing reasonably well in Abbotsford.

Craig Conroy – Great PK ability, decent speed considering his age, and the most proven in that type of role.

With at least 8 fringe NHL role players signed for next season, it’s clear the Calgary Flames have some serous depth. Not the type of depth every team strives for, but some serious fourth line depth. Bringing Conroy back makes the picture even more foggy. So take and look, and let me know… how would you structure the fourth line? Who would be better suited in Abbotsford? And just how good looking is Raitis Ivanans on your 10-point scale? I’ll give him a generous 5. You’re welcome Raitis.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not-So Cautious Optimism

In our last blog, we took a cold, hard look at reality, heading into the 2010-2011 season.

But it’s so easy to be negative, so easy to criticize. Not today! Today we’re going to take a glass-overflowing optimistic approach to the team’s fortunes, so we can enjoy the first year of a 10 year contract between the Flames and Sportsnet. We’ll take a look at high-level team positives, before delving into individual factors that we can get excited about. It will be a long process, but we will be pumped up for training camp by the end of it.

Let’s face it. It was very painful for many of us to watch our hometown hockey team completely deteriorate for the last half of the season... Which is why we will forget these painful, vivid images for now, and take a higher-level view of the team’s performance.

Quick Positives from 2009-2010

- Among the top teams in terms of GAA

- First time missing the playoffs since 2002-2003

- Subtracted an ego-driven risk-taking defenseman in Dion Phaneuf, and added a solid, consistent force in Ian White – who earns half the annual salary

We seem to speak of this team as though it had the worst season in NHL history, when the team we follow actually recorded 90 pts – one of the better “terrible” seasons a team could have. Compare that to, say, the off years in Columbus (79 pts) and Edmonton (62 pts). Above all that, the Flames were 2 or 3 wins from the bottom two spots of the playoff picture. Consider this the difference between McElhinny and a more capable back-up goaltender. Does this perspective make you feel any better about horrific losses to the NY Islanders or Boston Bruins in April? Of course not, but stick with me here.

Most of these underachieving Flames had the worst year of their respective careers. From an individual perspective, this team can only improve. Let’s take a look at a few individuals within the organization to further break this down.

Let’s not sugar-coat it – From an outsider’s perspective, the decision making that took place on behalf of Flames’ management has been comical (at best) in very recent memory. So rather than re-hashing all of these bad memories, let’s give the guy some credit:

1. Darryl wants to win. Sounds obvious, but it still shocks me at how many GMs around the league base their decision making on excitement and entertainment value. Darryl doesn’t hand Kovalchuk a contract worth 102 million dollars so he can have an exciting player that will sell tickets. Instead, he trades for Steve Staios, re-signs Olli Jokinen and cuts Theo Fleury. Any of these moves can be disputed, but you can’t dispute Darryl’s intentions – he wants to win. Not make friends, not sell tickets, not make noise – Darryl wants a cup.

2. GM Sutter is anything but gun-shy. Based on transactions, Darryl is the most active GM in the NHL. While this is not always ideal, he’s not afraid to shake things up. He trades star players, he brings in controversy (Bertuzzi, Jokinen, McGrattan), and he signs just about every under-achieving prospect that doesn’t already have a job. Only 10% of these prospects actually become productive players, but based on shear volume alone, I’ll take Darryl’s 10% over Dean Lombardi’s 10%... that guy seems to make about 2 signings per summer. In short, Darryl’s managing is exciting to follow, and he makes moves for the right reasons.
Could you imagine being a fan of the Buffalo Sabres this offseason? “Oh golly, we signed Rob Neidermayer in early July. Thrilling summer, can’t wait for training camp.”
That wouldn’t cut it for me. I’ll take Darryl’s active controversy over the alternative.

Simply put: Brent knows exactly what he’s signed up for come September.

Nothing to see here folks. Consistency all season long from these gents, and we can expect nothing different next season. Oh yeah, except for Kiprusoff – let’s bank on Kipper being solid next season... Not god-like, because skate blade saves on Scott Nichol just isn’t a fair expectation. He will be solid, and that’s all a good team needs.

Let’s see: Impressive numbers through 60 games on one of the worst teams in the league. Assuming these guys take on a lesser role with the Flames, we can look forward to respectable contributions from this group, with some necessary secondary scoring. A second line of Bourque Stajan and Hagman should stack up pretty well against the opposition.

Our very own Jonas Gustafsson. Only bigger, and we won’t expect him to carry our franchise. Just step in and try not to lose games for us – that’s all we ask. At bare minimum, this foreign experiment will be a lot of fun to follow. Considering our back-up goaltending in recent history, what do we have to lose here?

My take? I don’t think this guy needs a bounce back season at all. He’s been the leading scorer for years. In triple coverage. Against top d pairings. Game in game out. Getting 30+ goals consistently. You can’t expect your leader to get you 45 goals, because relying on that could kill your team in the standings. Instead, you ask that Jarome continue on with his 35 (ish) goals, ask that his centreman score 35, and his playmaking left winger contribute 25 of his own. Not mentioning any names here...

At this rate, your first line chips in with a total of 95 goals, which is 8 goals shy of that deadly Heatley-Thornton-Marleau combination. The lack of scoring will be a thing of the past, and Iggy`s “bad year” will actually be a very productive year, just without the entire weight of the organization on his shoulders.

Now that Darryl has flat-out told us that Tanguay and Jokinen will round out the first line with Iginla, let’s take a closer look at these two wildcards:

How do you get Alex Tanguay to score 25 goals again? Simple. You play him with Jarome Iginla for 82 games, and give him some time on the powerplay. With Iginla in triple coverage, there will be plenty of opportunity for Tangs to get 25. Just shoot the puck, you twit.

Couldn’t wait for this one, could you?

A fresh start for Olli, on a team that he really wants to play for. He and Iggy have expressed an intent to shoot more often, and not worry about the pretty plays that result in very little. Tanguay will help simplify Olli’s game, as a player that can pass with ease and hit teammates in-stride at ideal shooting areas. This will allow Jokinen to simplify his game, and focus on getting the puck on net – because “Olli cow” can that guy shoot the puck.

All of this considered: In a full time role on the first line, could Olli decline at all from last season? At only 30 years old, I’m not sure it’s possible for him to have a worse year than his most recent 15 goal output. And at 3 million dollars for each of the next two years (Kotalik-type money), I’ll take a chance on him recording totals closer to his career bests than his career worst. After all, we’re talking about a former 50 goal scorer.
My two cents: Put Jokinen on the point on the powerplay with Bouwmeester. This was the set-up in Florida, and an effective set-up at that. Let Olli focus on unleashing that cannon of a shot from the blueline, and have Iggy and Tangs along the half walls as viable options to dish off to. Throw Bourque in front of the net, and you’ve got a very well-rounded unit on the powerplay, with many different options available. Don’t buy my theory? Take a look at Jokinen’s video highlights the NHL website. If you scroll back to his Florida days (which, believe it or not, was merely two seasons ago) you’ll see how well the Jokinen, Bouwmeester powerplay connection can work. Shooting the puck is what Olli does, so let him do just that, and have J-Bo serve as the prime puck-mover, while Tangs, Iggy and Bourque settle in to what they do best. A more productive Jokinen AND a more productive powerplay.

Forget the three goals and watch the guy play. He’s still one of the most skilled defenseman in the league. The game is so effortless to him, as he understands positioning and stick work so well. He is by far the best skater on this team, and tops in terms of defensemen in general. He needs to jump in the rush more – and he will. I think Jay tried to do too much last year, based on uniting with a new coach and a hefty new contract. I expect he will bounce back in a big way next season. It’s tough to pencil in a well-rounded defenseman to score 15 goals, but I think 10-12 is pretty realistic. One year has passed, and I still love this signing. If only the guy had a sense of humour.


- Reconfigure the PP

- Keep that frightening Robyn Regehr on your team, because he’s far more valuable than it seems at the

- Bare Minimum: Excluding Giordano, Bourque and White... Pencil every player on the team to score at least two more goals than they did last season – a very realistic objective. At minimum, that adds roughly 40 more goals to your team’s offense. That by itself will make a big difference in the standings. Now, assuming members of the top line improve by more than this margin? We would be set for a much improved 2010-2011 season.

Feeling better?

I know I am.

2010 – A Year Worth Questioning

"Hi, you've reached the Calgary Flames. We've lost our identity, but please leave a detailed message and we'll get back to it as soon as possible"

What a difference a year can make. One calendar year ago, we were rejoicing the sneaky acquisition of Jay Bouwmeester. We were perplexed by the ease and efficiency by which he was acquired and, within hours, signed to a long term deal - while teams like Vancouver, Montreal and San Jose were reportedly poised to throw serious money and term at the gifted defenseman the following morning.

Safe to say the city was ecstatic for the upcoming season – a solid goaltender, a big bad blueline, a steady core and some promising 2-way forwards to compliment Jarome Iginla and his brand new coaching staff. Fans and media alike were gearing up for the 2009-2010 season with enthusiasm, while Theo Fleury was performing his usual circus act. Heck, writers at TheHockeyNews even picked the Flames to win the cup in 2010. If my memory serves, the Flyers were picked to come out of the East. One out of two ain’t bad, considering no one could have seen this coming:

Darryl Sutter’s small town practice was interrupted by the big city shortly after Christmas, and he was introduced to harmful street drugs. Darryl, in one horrific overdose, was bullied by Brian Burke and manipulated by Glen Sather. Darryl threw away valuable pieces for Ales Kotalik, and half of the worst team in the league – the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next game, I purchased a copy of Blaze Magazine at the dome, because I felt completely out of the loop on my favorite team. While much of Hockeyland was laughing at the organization, I can remember thinking “what the heck is this team all about?”

Oddly enough, that question remains unanswered as we sit here in early August. It’s not that I completely disagree with every move that has been made in the last 6 months… It’s more that I can’t help but question what the plan is here. Every member of the organization has a different explanation. Many media sources are grasping at straws, trying to be reasonable in creating new perspectives on what might be taking place in Southern Alberta. To make matters worse, Darryl has already shown some lament by trying to undo the problems he created just six months ago. How confident were you in your decision making, if months later you are reacquiring Olli Jokinen, and quietly trying to make an annual $3M worth of Ales Kotalik go away? Meanwhile, when asked about the identity of his team, Darryl mumbles “To be quite honest, we’re a good hockey team.” Ohhhhh okay – now I get it.

While the Flames haven’t had any recent playoff success, there has always been a plan under Darryl. This team had an identity. They played with heart, with a crash and bang attitude, and the Saddledome was admittedly a very difficult place for any team to come and play. Hometown players felt privileged to wear the flaming C, as there was a culture associated with that logo. Today, that culture is completely nonexistent. What does it mean to be a Calgary Flame today?

Oh, you know: Jarome Iginla, Ales Kotalik, Olli Jokinen, Raitis Ivanans, Vesa Toskala (until recently), Jay Bouwmeester, Tim Jackman and Steve Staios

… Do you see any consistent theme here? Because I’ve tried, but I get lost. Try reading the names over again, and let me know if you come up with anything

This team lacks identity. It lacks one sole focus. It’s just a mixed bag of differing styles and strategies. The Calgary Flames, as they stand today, represent a big/small team (or group of individuals), with a defensive (or Olli Jokinen/Ales Kotalik) mindset that can’t score enough goals to capitalize on the defensive mindset that they take so much pride in. This team resembles an old school New Jersey Devil’s style of game… only without the winning factor; without the division titles.

Well, that’s the most realistic picture I can paint to reflect the current status of our local hockey heroes.

Next up: an overly-optimistic view, that will at least help us sleep for the next month