It’s September again. There’s already a chill in the evening air in town and soon the Leaves will begin to change color. It’s the time of year when young mens thoughts turn to matter of hockey.
As such, it’s about time to start posting rosters. There remains the issue of Calgary’s cap non-complicance, but that’s going to be part of the fun in constructing the line-ups. Who do you demote? Who do you scratch? Until the question is ultimately answered by Sutter, we’re free to speculate.
Without further ado, here’s how I guess (hope?) things will shake out:
Langkow Healthy Option
Tanguay – Jokinen – Iginla
Hagman – Langkow – Bourque
Glencross – Stajan – Moss
Stone – Conroy – Kotalik
Regehr – White
Sarich – Pardy
Langkow Hurt Option
Tanguay – Jokinen – Iginla
Hagman – Stajan – Bourque
Glencross – Conroy – Moss
Stone – Backlund – Kotalik
I’m loathe to put Jokinen and Jarome together again, but part of me knows that’s how things are going to happen initially anyways and part of me hopes they can improve their results if someone else is taking the tough sledding. That someone else would be the Langkow unit in the first iteration, while the hard stuff would have to be spread around if Langkow is hurt. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Conroy get a bump to Bourque’s line with Langkow in the infirmary, pushing Stajan back down with Moss + Glencross and making the second line the go-to "shut down" trio again.
Potentially controversial is my decision to keep Kotalik and skate him on the 4th line. Despite the cognitive dissonance of paying someone $3M to play at the bottom of the rotation, it’s likely the place where he can provide the most value: Kotalik can be completely sheltered at ES with Conroy et al and then would be free to put up results by playing on the PP and scoring the odd shoot-out marker. In addition, keep in mind that the 4th lines as I’ve constructed them would likely be 10 minute/night units with a good chance to mark the scoreboard, rather than the 5 minute/night detriments that many teams still opt for.
My decision to put Backlund on the 4th line in the second option will also rub some people the wrong way no doubt. However, with Langkow out, the tough assignments are going to be more spread out across the top 9 and the kid is still in the "heavy shelter" territory of his career. Backlund + Kotalik could avoid tough match-ups, take some offensive zone draws and probably cause some havoc against other 4th liners. It puts him in a position to succeed without having to skip a few grades.
No major changes on the back-end, aside from deleting Staios and adding Pelech. This gets the team under the cap and avoids the Pelech-now-waiver-eligible problem. You will also notice that Jackman doesn’t show up anywhere – with the team counting 14 forwards and (with me keeping Kotalik), someone else had to take the short flight to Abbotsford. Jackman can tutor the kids on the farm for his 550k and is good bet not to be snatched up on waivers besides. It’s more probable that Stone will be the odd man out should this all go down, but he’s 50k cheaper and I think I prefer him anyways. Ivanans is retained because we all know he will be no matter how much I protest. He can be subbed in for Stone on the nights when the other team has a dancing bear of their own.
Potential problems? Well, this roster is just 300k under the cap as constructed. That’s certainly enough to start the year, but it’s skin-of-your-teeth stuff and doesn’t leave much room for error or addition as the year moves along.
Anyways, that’s my stab at it. Feel free add your critcisms and line-ups in the comments.