I never understood TSN's "Off-Season Game Plan" columns. They've been around at least since last season (I didn't really read TSN before that, so I don't know), and they're heavily linked-to among hockey blogs.
The only problem is they don't really offer an "off-season game plan." All the columns really do is list the players that are returning and those that are free agents. The columns don't really offer any advice to the teams, or suggest likely outcomes or anything really interesting. It's more or less just, "this guy plays this position and is pretty good. If he doesn't come back, they'll need somebody else."
Not exactly earth-shattering info.
And sometimes, like in the Avalanche column, they just pull stuff out of their rear ends:
Though Tyler Arnason's 31 points represented a career-low, he provides solid depth down the middle and doesn't get as much quality ice when he's behind Stastny and Sakic.
I think we're all past the point where we think Arnason offers "solid depth," unless the definition of that term is "just another body on the ice, except during games against the Oilers."
That said, the quote above, though wrong, is a pretty harmless observation.
What really gets me about these columns is the use of TSN's ever-confusing player ratings. Like in every NHL-related video game you've ever played, TSN offers numerical ratings for every player in the league, but the exact formula to determine this rating is a mystery to me. If they've published it, please point me in that direction.
This rating system boggles my mind. For example, Ryan Malone of the Pittsburgh Penguins---a fine player in his own right, but no superstar---is rated at 76.86. That seems like a reasonable score compared to the best player in the league and his teammate, Sidney Crosby, who has a rating of 89.72. But the problem is that Paul Stastny, who scored 71 points in 66 games despite appendicitis and a groin injury, is only rated at 77.92. Just over one full point above Malone, who scored just 51 points in 77 games while playing on lines with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
I know that arbitrary ratings like this don't really matter, but I can't, for the life of me, understand how TSN comes up with their numbers. The Pensblog can't figure it out, either, noting that Kris Beech got rated higher than gritty Jordan Staal. How is that even possible?
But whatever. I guess the redeeming part of TSN's off-season game plan for the Avs is the brilliant observation that the futures of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg are kind of important to Colorado. Most of us wouldn't have realized that.