Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 10:31 am
By: Adam Gretz
PITTSBURGH -- No team in the NHL went through a larger roster overhaul this past summer than the one orchestrated by Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon. From the head coach (Kevin Dineen) to as many as 10 new players in the lineup on any given night, this year's Panthers squad doesn't look anything like the team -- on paper -- that stumbled to a 30-40-12 record a year ago, and missed the playoffs for a 10th straight season.
The combination of being in a situation where spending money was a necessity due to their need to reach the NHL's salary floor, as well as being mired in the longest non-playoff streak in league history, meant drastic changes were on the way. And were they ever. Along with hiring Dineen to take control behind the bench, Tallon was the busiest general manager in the NHL this offseason when it came to the trade and free-agent markets.
Veteran defenseman Brian Campbell and his once thought to be untradeable contract was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. Kris Versteeg came over from the Philadelphia Flyers, and free agents Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc, Tomas Kopecky, Jose Theodore, Ed Jovanovski and Matt Bradley were signed to multi-year deals.
With so many new faces, as well as a new coaching staff, a new system, and an entirely new way of doing things, there is probably going to be some growing pains and bumps in the road. And through two games, a 2-0 win over the New York Islanders to open the season on Saturday, as well as a 4-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, things are still very much a work in progress for the Panthers.
"I thought we were stronger on Saturday," Dineen said following the loss on Tuesday. "We seemed to have more energy. I think we had our moments [on Tuesday], but it wasn't throughout the game and that's the way you have to play to have success."
It's not is if the Panthers played poorly throughout the game on Tuesday; they ended up finishing with a 34-29 edge in the shots department, while attempting 59 shots to Pittsburgh's 50. Still, there were some problems that need to be ironed out. Consistency and the power play being two of them, as well as their struggles to clear the crease and help get the puck away from new goaltender Jose Theodore after allowing the Penguins to score three goals from right in front of the net.
"We had our moments," said Dineen. "But we need more consistency to our game. It wasn't a complete game for us."
The power play, which featured Jovanovski and Campbell at the points, as well as Upshall and Fleischmann up front -- none of whom were on the team a year ago -- looked sloppy at times, finishing the night 0-for-5 while also giving up a game-changing shorthanded goal. And while there were periods of strong puck control in the offensive zone and some quality scoring chances, there were also periods of players appearing to be out of sync and not knowing where their linemates were going to be or what they were going to do. Case in point: a 3-on-1 rush in the second period when Jack Skille attempted a behind-the-back pass that ended up resulting in a missed opportunity.
"I found that part of our issue is that there were times we were very cute, and that doesn't always work," said Dineen. "It's fun to watch sometimes, but on a game like [Tuesday] where you can feel the momentum is still up for grabs, if you're starting to make those nice plays sometimes that's not the right choice. That's a good lesson for us that we need to stay with our program."
The Panthers, however, including Dineen, didn't want to blame any of their struggles on any perceived lack of chemistry.
"I'd love to blame it on that," Dineen said. "But I think that's just making sure we just bear down. Those are key moments in the game, and those pucks are just sitting around that crease, and I think they [Pittsburgh] scored three or four from right around there that you can't hang on Theo. There's a real possibility to get those things out and when they don't get out, and that's when ugly things happen to us."
Campbell, a 10-year veteran that owns a Stanley Cup ring thanks to his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, was a little more blunt and to the point when asked if the mistakes were a result of new players still working to get familiar with one another.
"We've all played hockey before," he said. "Everybody knows what they're doing. It's time to play hockey, it's the regular season and we have to be ready. I don't really believe in that stuff and I would hope that nobody else does."
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: September 23, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:09 pm
The days of the South-least Division are slowly fading away.
For the last half decade, the Southeast Division has been the Washington Capitals' playground with four teams chasing. Of course the Caps have been very good through that time, but fattening up on their division "rivals" undoubtedly helped them to four straight division championships.
Just take the 2009-10 season as an example. That year the Capitals had 18 more points than the next closest team in the East while no other team in the division finished even in the top nine of the conference standings. That's especially amazing when you consider there are only 15 teams in the East.
They stil finished atop the East despite a transformation. Head coach Bruce Boudreau changed the way the team plays, trying to lock down on defense. As a result, the league's highest-scoring team the past few years dipped all the way to 19th in scoring. Alex Ovechkin had a very good season by almost anybody's standards. Just not his own.
The trick for Boudreau is to find that happy medium. They showed defense is something they can and in the past they showed they can score. Now they need to show they can do both. If they don't, especially early, Boudreau will hear the calls for his firing. The most successful regular-season team hasn't done enough after it to satisfy the increasingly antsy and demanding fan base.
But the somewhat surprising emergence of the Lightning last year has beefed up the division's rep. Tampa Bay figured to be on its way back up the NHL ladder, but the boom that came out of last season seemed to be ahead of schedule. Now the division has two of the game's elite scorers in Steven Stamkos and Ovechkin. With the Bolts unceremoniously sweeping the Caps in the playoffs last year, we just might have the beginning of an actual division rival for Washington.
The division also features something new: the most amped up fan base in the league, at least for one season. The Winnipeg Jets are still stuck playing in a division that will have them being true fish out of water. To say the Jets will suffer from jet-lag isn't just a fun pun but a reality they face. With that said, what was one of the easiest road trips in the NHL just became one of the toughest, especially for the teams in the Southeast that should look into taking the Concord to Manitoba.
Southeast Division (in order of predicted finish)
Washington Capitals: The Caps have become one of the league's elite teams and have done a pretty remarkable job of keeping their core together. Well this offseason owner Ted Leonsis and crew decided it was time to shake up the roster a touch to try and find the missing recipe to move Washington deeper into the playoffs. Enter Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Tomas Vokoun among others. I don't think there was a bigger offseason addition in this division than the Caps getting Vokoun, especially when you factor in the salary he'll be getting. Vokoun's talents have been hidden in Florida in the past four seasons, but he's an excellent goaltender but he is (or at least was) prone to prolonged slumps. As for Ward and Brouwer, they considerably beef up the Caps' toughness up front along the boards who are very capable two-way players.
Strengths: They have shown they can do every facet of the game well. It is a challenge to find a more talented team in hockey, including on the blue line. That's not something you could say in the past, but John Carlson and Karl Alzner complement each other well enough to make one of the best young defenseman duos in the NHL.
Weaknesses: It is tough to pinpoint any with this team, it is very well-rounded. It will be interesting to see how they handle expectations and increased heat when they hit some rough patches. Also, from an organizational standpoint the team has very little room to maneuver under the salary cap. That could be worth monitoring if/when GM George McPhee decided to tweak the roster.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Everything came together for a great run to a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference finals last season under new coach Guy Boucher. He brought in the ol' 1-3-1 system that seemed to be a magic trick for the Bolts. Now the question becomes can they repeat or was last year lightning in a bottle (that pun really was not intended)? One thing strongly in their favor is that the return almost the entire roster intact from last season. They did lose a couple of players such as Simon Gagne, but not much in the way of being unable to repair. one player who is back is Eric Brewer, and he'll be better for having spent camp and beginning the season in Tampa Bay. It will be interesting to see how this team fares with expectations on their shoulders.
Strengths: They roll out two excellent lines at the top. The Ryan Malone-Stamkos-Martin St. Louis line is one of the best in the game and the second group of Nate Thompson-Vincent Lecavalier-Teddy Purcell isn't too shabby, especially if Purcell continues his growth. They also had excellent special teams last year, ranking in the top 8 of both power play (it helps to have Stamkos, who scores 17 on the PP last year) and penalty kill a season ago. I also love the man on their bench as Boucher is a star in the making among coaches.
Weaknesses: I am still not in love with the goaltending situation. Dwayne Roloson was very good after being picked up by GM Steve Yzerman (he would qualify as another strength), but he just doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in me to keep it up. The addition of Mathieu Garon to back him up is a good one, though. Moreover, consistency might be an issue, especially for Stamkos. He really slowed down last season, failing to score 50 goals when he appeared to be on his way to 60 midseason.
Carolina Hurricanes: If the playoffs were a night club, the Hurricanes have been the guy standing at the front of the line until the bouncer says they're full. Every year it seems they are squarely on the playoff bubble, including last season when it came down to Game 82, which was a sound defeat. This season figures to be more of the same for the 'Canes as they might just be the next-best thing to a playoff team the East has to offer. They had a very pleasant surprise in Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner last season and captain Eric Staal is still leading the show. Gone, though, is another Carolina long-timer in Erik Cole (now in Montreal). One thing you have to love about this franchise, though, is its consistency. GM Jim Rutherford has been there ever since they became the Hurricanes (and before). It seems like their best players don't leave the organization, either. Hopefully for them the consistency in their finishes doesn't stay the same, but instead they crack the postseason. But in a beefed up East, that will be tougher said than done.
Strengths: They have an excellent captain in Staal, both from a leadership standpoint and player quality. They also boast one of the better goalies in the league in Cam Ward, an All-Star last season. And there's that whole consitency thing they have going on, often helps in the old chemistry department.
Weaknesses: There is not much depth to talk about in Carolina. After Stall, Skinner, Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu, they aren't likely going to find a whole lot of scoring. They also don't posses a ton of size among the forwards, hence the reason they brought in Anthony Stewert and Alex Ponikarovsky this offseason to help. There just doesn't seem to be enough to crack the postseason, but Rutherford admits to this being somewhat of a "rebuilding" phase. That's a pretty competitive team for one that's rebuilding.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers were incredibly active in the free-agent market in July, adding a slew of veterans to hold the tide while the youngsters develop. Undoubtedly the Panthers are better than they were last season, but how much better? They did lose arguably their best player in Vokoun and are replacing him with the combination of Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, not exactly an exciting development. But it can't be denied that the Panthers now at least have NHL-quality players across their lines (and defensive pairings, led by Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski), but they still aren't high-quality players, not guys that you figure can get them into the playoffs, finally. The trick in Florida is not doing anything now to hinder the future, which is very bright as the system is loaded.
Strengths: I do like the defensive corps they are putting together, especially if 2010 No. 3 overall draft pick Erik Gudbranson makes the team as expected. It's very hard to say at this point with so many new faces coming together what kind of strenghts we're looking at, it's tough to predict how they will play together. But we do know something that isn't likely be a strength this year ...
Weaknesses: The aforementioned goaltender position. With Vokoun gone, the Panthers are relying on the combination of Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen. Now, both do have experience, Theodore more so than the Clemmer, but in no way do they make up for what Vokoun, Florida's best player in recent seasons, took with him. You also have to wonder about chemistry issues with this team having brought in so many new faces. We'll put new coach Kevin Dineen as an "unknown."
Winnipeg Jets: The virtue of such a home-ice advantage will likely make the Jets a little better than the Thrashers were last season, but not enough. Thankfully for them the new home crowd in Winnipeg will just be jacked to have hockey back. They will need to take advantage of the home crowd, especially with a stretch of 10 home games in 11 contests that stretches from the end of November through December. But they will need to find scoring punch, especially from the forward group. They have excellent point producers among the defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom, but Ladd needs more help. Hopefully, that's where Evander Kane will fit in. In his third year since being drafted in the first round (all of his time spent at the NHL level) this could be the year he steps up his game and becomes a franchise fixture. He is already a popular figure partly by virtue of his Twitter account and the way he has taken to Winnipeg.
Strengths: They were above average on the power play last season, finishing 12th in the league thanks to Byfuglien and Enstrom. Thrown in the potential of Zach Bogosian as an offensive weapon and that's a lunch of firepower coming back the blue line. I like Ondrej Pavelec in net if he can get a little better support from his teammates. I will put one more in this category, and that's the patience of the front office. They have a lot of first-round talent on the roster and they don't seem willing to abandon the long-term plan for a quick fix to appease the riled up fans.
Weaknesses: The forwards need to show more. Outside of Ladd, nobody up front cracked the 20-goal barrier last season in Atlanta. They need to find a way to tighten down defensively after giving up the second-most goals per game in hockey last year at 3.20. The forwards doing a better job of creating scoring chances and possessing the puck will certainly contribute. The penalty kill was almost equally bad last year, clocking in at 27th in the NHL. Like the Panthers, we'll put new coach Claude Noel as an "unknown."
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: 2011-12 Season Preview, Alex Ovechkin, Andrew Ladd, Brian Campbell, Brian Stubits, Bruce Boudreau, Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes, Claude Noel, Dustin Byfuglien, Dwayne Roloson, Ed Jovanovski, Eric Brewer, Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Erik Gudbranson, Evander Kane, Florida Panthers, George McPhee, Guy Boucher, Jeff Skinner, Jim Rutherford, Joel Ward, John Carlson, Jose Theodore, Karl Alzner, Kevin Dineen, Martin St. Louis, Mathieu Garon, Ondrej Pavelec, Scott Clemmensen, Southeast Division, Steve Yzerman, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Teddy Purcell, Tobias Enstrom, Tomas Vokoun, Troy Brouwer, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets, Zach Bogosian
Posted on: September 8, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 7:04 pm
By: Adam Gretz
There are still a small number of restricted free agents yet to sign a new deal with their respective clubs, and perhaps none are bigger than Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Training camp is just around the corner, and with each passing day it's looking more and more likely that the young standout may not be signed on time, a situation that was discussed back in early August.
Earlier on Thursday Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times tweeted that Kings general manager Dean Lombardi and Doughty's agent, Don Meehan, have agreed that they won't publicly comment on the negotiations (with no deal appearing imminent), while it's also expected that the 21-year-old defenseman will not attend the team's hockey fanfest this upcoming weekend.
That news was eventually followed by Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos asking where the Kings go now that Doughty has reportedly turned down multiple offers, including a potential nine-year, $61.2 million contract.
Assuming that offer was on the table, it would have matched Anze Kopitar for the largest average annual salary ($6.8 million) on the team. It also would have put him in the top-20 among all NHL salary cap hits, and fourth among defensemen for the 2010-11 season, trailing only Nashville's Shea Weber, Florida's Brian Campbell and Boston's Zdeno Chara.
Doughty, who turns 22 in December, is coming off a season that saw him score 11 goals and 29 assists in 76 games, a decent drop from the previous season when he recorded 59 points from the blue line.
When you're talking about a contract, especially with a player as young as Doughty, you're not just paying for what the player has done (and when you're looking at a player like Doughty you're dealing with a player that's already a bright young star in the NHL) but also what the player will do in the future. There's projection involved, and for as good as Doughty already is, he's likely to get better for at least a couple of more years.
Is that worth making him one of the five-highest paid defensemen in the NHL at this point?
The Kings were willing to go to nearly $7 million on a contract for Kopitar after three seasons (the same point in his career that Doughty is) when Kopitar probably wasn't held in as high a regard among other forwards across the league as Doughty currently is among other defensemen. So it shouldn't seem that outrageous that numbers like this are being kicked around.
In the end, I still think something that falls somewhere between the cap hit Keith Yandle received earlier this summer, and the $7 million mark that has been topped by a small handful of defensemen is a more than fair average annual salary for what Doughty has already accomplished, and what he should accomplish in the near future.
There is still time to work something out and get Doughty signed before any of training camp (or worse, actual regular season games) is missed, but it does appeare to be running out.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: July 29, 2011 12:58 pm
They sound like the buzzwords of a political campaign.
The blue print.
These have nothing to do with dysfunctional Florida politics. They are the words and phrases mentioned in the state about its moribound hockey team, the Florida Panthers.
There is nobody who knows about the team's optimisim and defeat better than the current longest-tenured Panther, Stephen Weiss. He has been there through it all, never leaving the organization after it made him its top selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. After seeing unparralleled misery -- 10 straight years of missing the playoffs -- he says the vibe is starting to match the rhetoric.
"Personally I do [have a new-found excitement] just because I feel like I don't really know anybody any more," Weiss said. "So I'm kind of getting those butterflies as if I'm going to a new team, new scenario, new coaches again. That's always exciting."
Excitement that the Panthers are going the right direction? Imagine that. Buzz is what general manager Dale Tallon brought with him. It has been a long time coming in South Florida.
The Cats made the most noise on the first day of free agency. Florida went out and payed -- most say overpayed -- to completely overhaul their roster from just a few months before. The Panthers traded for veteran defenseman Brian Campbell and winger Kris Versteeg, then signed Ed Jovanovski, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, Jose Theodore and Tomas Kopecky. Ever since, people have criticized Tallon for overspending, but the Panthers had a cap floor to reach, so they had little choice but to spend money.
It's hard to argue, however, that after the first few days of July, Florida isn't a better team than it was before. If nothing else, the Panthers grabbed attention across the NHL.
"Around the league I hope it has given us a little bit more respect, that we're starting to turn the corner and starting to put some things together," Weiss said.
Even while the Panthers were trending in South Florida, on one of the biggest days in franchise history, Weiss wasn't keeping close tabs. He was instead vacationing at his uncle's cottage an hour north of Toronto, cell phone off. Later that night, he turned his phone on and saw the stream of text messages from friends, letting him know what Tallon had been up to.
"I'm certainly super excited to get that many guys and that many quality guys, it's unbelievable," Weiss said. "It's going to help us a lot. Totally changed our team around and made us younger and faster and more skilled. It's something that has needed to be done for a while and it's pretty neat that Dale's been able to do it. I can't wait to get to camp.
"That's just the start of it. Now, you have to back it up and put it on the ice. That's up to the guys and I'm sure we're all excited to do that."
Weiss has seen his fair share of new teammates and coaches in his camp days. That will once again be the situation this year as the team breaks in new coach Kevin Dineen to go along with the new faces. Dineen's task in his first NHL job will be to mold the players together and quickly find some cohesion. It is one which harkens back to the team's days at the old Miami Arena, also their most successful period in franchise history. That's when they had to start from scratch, literally building the franchise from nothing. With such turnover, it feels like they are doing the same again.
Bringing in so many new players in one offseason will present a challenge. But how big? Some say huge. It's one of the criticisms that has been levied against Tallon's spending spree. And it is not as if he is bringing a bunch of fresh faces into an established old guard. As far as Panthers holdovers go, the only veterans to speak of are Weiss and David Booth. Nobody else has been with the team for more than three seasons.
Sure, guys like Jovanovski have been in Florida before as the Panthers made him the first overall pick in 1994, but not with this cast of characters.
So will it be an issue? Weiss' inclination is no.
"There's always -- especially now with the way things are run -- there's a lot of turnover on teams year-to-year and that can be an issue with every single team, chemistry and things like that can be an issue with new guys," Weiss said. "I guess more so for us because we have so many, but at this level I don't think that's as big of a deal."
It better not be if this is going to be the group of guys to end the NHL's standard for futility.
Let's not forget that Tallon's blue print includes building the team through the draft. The Panthers did not have the richest farm system in hockey despite their years of picking in the lottery, but that has changed under Tallon's watch. Soon Florida will be looking to bring aboard recent draft picks Jacob Markstrom, Erik Gudbranson, Quinton Howden and Jonathan Huberdeau, among others. That's the new guard, the future of Panthers hockey.
And that's something Stephen Weiss can relate to. He, too, was once the future of the Panthers. Now he's the present, trying to get things turned around. Still.
"I never really envisioned thinking it would take this long to get things turned around here, but it is what it is," Weiss said. "It's really kind of bugging me deep down we haven't been able to put it together and get it done. Seeing the success [former teammates Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg] had in Boston just kind of fuels you even more to get it done."
The closest the Panthers have come to competing for the Stanley Cup in the past 10 years was 2008-09, when they finished tied with the Montreal Canadiens in points and wins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Florida, however, went 1-2-1 in the season series and lost out on the second tiebreaker, left tantalizingly close, but yet so far.
Having never appeared in an NHL playoff game, Weiss does not know the feeling of reaching the postseason, but he is aware of what it would mean to him after so many years of watching from home.
"It would mean the world to me, really," Weiss said. "I wanted to honor the contract that I signed there and I want to make it happen there.
"I have some pretty high expectations for this team this year. I think deep down this could be our year."
Finally, Weiss and the Panthers are seeing a light at the end the darkest tunnel in team history.
Photo: US Presswire
Tags: Brian Campbell, Brian Stubits, Dale Tallon, David Booth, Ed Jovanovski, Erik Gudbranson, Florida Panthers, Jacob Markstrom, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jose Theodore, Kevin Dineen, Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Quinton Howden, Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim, Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky
Posted on: June 25, 2011 12:33 am
Edited on: June 25, 2011 5:55 pm
NHL Draft night in Minnesota turned into Hockey Night in Canada.
It all started with the Winnipeg franchise announcing its nickname would be the one all the fans back in Manitoba hoped for, the Jets. Then Edmonton had the first selection again and picked up a superstar in the making in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Between the seven teams that now call Canada home, there were 11 selections made in Friday night's first round. That included two for Edmonton, three from Ottawa and two from Toronto. Those are some quick ways to rebuilding in a top-heavy draft.
Then among the teams with only one pick, Montreal had to be pretty pleased with its outcome. Waiting patiently at No. 17, talented two-way defenseman Nathan Beaulieu -- expected by many to go in the top 10 of the draft -- fell all the way to them. Taking the podium to a chorus of boos -- the only low moment on a night of great moments -- the Habs snatched up the defenseman who plays his junior hockey in Quebec.
We even had a bit of an old-fashioned Alberta battle between Calgary and Edmonton, who were apparently both fighting to get Ryan Smyth from the Kings. While the trade wasn't ever made official on the night, it looks like the Oilers won, getting back a player who spent much of his career in the orange and blue.
Yes, it was a good night north of the border.
Ottawa Senators: Sens GM Bryan Murray was very busy, entering the night with two first-round picks and making it three without sacrificing anybody on his current roster. In their three picks, he selected an entire line, going center then two wings. It's a good start to a rare rebuilding process in Ottawa, something that we haven't really seen since the organization was born.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Burke was his old usual self, dealing on draft day. He got it started before the draft by acquiring defenseman John-Michael Liles from the Avalanche in exchange for a second-round selection. Then he improved his draft position in a draft-pick swap with Anaheim to grab a very physical power forward in Tyler Biggs. But the best move of the night was getting Liles, a good puck-moving defenseman.
Chicago Blackhawks: If for no other reason than finally unloading the albatross of a contract that is Brian Campbell. Wouldn't you know it, they found a willing partner in the man that originally signed Campbell to the massive deal, Dale Tallon in Florida. The Panthers have a ridiculous amount of cap space, so the burden isn't heavy and the Blackhawks don't get much in return (Rostislav Olesz, who makes more than $3 million per year despite a career high of 14 goals in one season). Then they picked up two forward prospects with high character. Not a bad day's work.
Minnesota Wild: I wasn't in love with their first selection in Jonas Brodin, a good defenseman from Sweden, but that's because I felt they needed to add more offense. Then they made a deal with San Jose and brought in immediate help with Devin Setoguchi and a first-round talent in Charlie Coyle as well as another pick in this year's first round, which they used on center Zack Phillips from Saint John in the QMJHL with great passing ability. And they were the host. So, kudos Minnesota.
San Jose Sharks: So they not only traded out of the first round, but sent Setoguchi packing along with their first-round pick from last season? Sure, they got an excellent defenseman in return, but they essentially traded three first-round picks for Brent Burns and a second-round selection. They obviously saw a need to bolster the blue line, but the move seems a bit excessive.
Phoenix Coyotes: This is a team for which you have to wonder how much longer the window can stay open -- perhaps it closes a bit with Ilya Bryzgalov gone -- so then they drafted a player with some injury questions who projects as a long-term prospect? The selection leaves something to be desired for me.
Pittsburgh Penguins: They had the chance at a few very solid forward prospects when they came to the podium at pick No. 23, but instead elected to take a defenseman who isn't necessarily a guy who figures to be able to command the power play, something the Penguins were lacking last season. It wasn't the worst of nights, but I thought an offensive guy would have been the better fit.
-- Brian Stubits