So I know it has been quiet here lately as we all mourned the lack of NHL hockey in our own way. Great to see Bob and the crew getting back into the swing of things and even better to see the message boards start to see some traffic with real hockey talk!
Time for some predictions for the 2013 season;
As training camp starts to get going here is what I think the line will look like and why.
19-12-28, 53-11-36, 22-37-21, 59-42-39 extras 13, 14
I really think Tlusty will end up on the top line with EStaal due to 1) they had some really great chemistry last year 2) He should be in mid season form after playing 24 games in the Czech league, racking up 12g and 23p.
I'm sure many people will scratch there head at my combination of Dalpe, Brent, and Bowman. I believe this line gives the Canes a real scoring threat as well as the ability to play some good defense. Will it be a true shut down line like we are used to seeing with the departed Brandon Sutter? No, but I believe that this line has more offensive up side than previous years. It seems to me to be a good mix of 2 way players and also gives them some face off insurance and flexibility if they want to have Dalpe play center (as I think he may be a better fit than Brent in the Muller system and Brent showed he can be an effective wing last year while EStaal was double shifting last year.)
With Brent going to the 3rd line that leaves a hole at 4c. I put Sutter42 here as he seems to be the most ready player in our org ready to handle that role. Welsh just doesn't seem readyfor the NHL in any role, and I don't see them putting Dalpe here. LaRose had to find a place for in the line up and Dwyer is great on the pk.
That leaves us with Stewart and Nodl as healthy extras. They both have the talent to contribute at the NHL but spent a lot of time on the Canes 4th line last year that wasn't very good. They will be important this season as injuries occur and I can also see Muller playing these guys on back to back nights to keeps everyone legs fresh. I say they both get in to 15-25 games each with the roster as it is now.
Looking at the Checkers Boychuk, Samson, and Wallace look to be ready for a call up should someone go down to injury and depending on the role. JR has said he wants to add some grit to the 4th line so we shall see where that comes from. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Canes also added a bottom 6 center. Whether that comes from a free agent such as a guy like Dominic Moore or via trade who knows.
With JR's recent comments about Sanguenetti it seems the defense is pretty set. It should look something like this; 6-77, 25-4, 44-27, extra 24
I paired these guys up according to prior success. How the actual pairings shake out is anybody's guess. I would really like JR to think about trading for a more defensive rear guard like Nick Hjalrmsson but I don't think that happens until the trade deadline if at all this season.
Then only question in goal is who will back up Ward, with 3 guys competing for the job. I believe Muller will go with whom ever is healthy and stopping the puck.
I think the Canes make the playoffs this year as a 5-7 seed.
If anyone is interested Doug A and myself have started a podcast. You can listen to it at http://t.co/iLkTV8gE and follow us on twitter @stormtrackpod
Would love to hear everyone's thoughts and their own predictions for the season. I'm so excited to see all my friends and get this season under way. Let's go Canes!