If there is one thing this season has taught us, it's that there are A LOT of young players from Albany who can play in the NHL. That, plus whatever we get via the draft, means that some roster spots will have to be opened next season. Who, then, will be dealt/retire/leaving via other methods next year? Who SHOULD leave, and who WILL leave? Here are my top picks for getting out of town, bottom to top in terms of likelihood to leave:
5. Chad LaRose - as much of a fan favorite as he is, there are just too many teams he does not match-up well against due to his size. During these games his forechecking is non-existent and brings-down his entire line. That said, his speed and ability to score could net a decent return in trade to help replenish the stock in the system, especially since the Checkers will need to make a big splash in Charlotte. JR will be hard-pressed to let him go, though. Traded for 3 prospects.
4. Erik Cole - speed, positioning still decent, but not for a top two line guy. His finishing and hand-eye skills are waaaaay off nowadays, and when he acts like a checking forward he gets hurt. Still, his name could garner some picks or prospects. Traded for 1 pick, 2 prospects.
3. Ray Whitney - not much time left on the clock for The Wizard. Will he holdout for a ton of money that JR does not have? Will he eye a playoff contender to finish his career on a quest for the cup? I just don't think we'll be able to keep him here. Leaves as free agent.
1. Rod Brind'amour - the elephant in the room all season long. The coaches love him, the players love him, the fans...well, most love the prior version circa 2006. His body just gave out on him, there's nothing left in the tank. Retires.