A lot has been said about our FA acquisitions and the Brière/Stuart trades.
Whether we like the players we got or not, we are a better team, at least when it comes to our chances of winning the Cup. Holes have been filled, depth improved and our core has yet to reach its potential. Let's face it, we all know we lack defensive (and offensive) talent on the blue line and there aren't many potential top 6 wingers in our system, maybe none (the best option being Bleackley playing RW). These are the areas we need to work on to be a real contender for half a decade or more. I have read trade rumors and HFboards proposals. Most of them are based on getting defensive help using ROR as trade bait.
Maybe I represent a minority, but I believe we do not have the assets to bolster our blue line via trade. We are too thin on the wings to let ROR go without a top 6 winger in return. Mack, Dutchy and Landy are untouchables, it would take a Doughty, Weber or Pietrangelo to even think about it.
We need ROR and wingers like him are a rare breed. Yes, he is a very capable center, but for me he is a better winger. I hope we lock him for 5 years, but I guess we'll see how greedy he really is because Sakic and Roy appreciate what he brings to the table. Not to the point of breaking the bank though. If they do have to trade him, the return we will get is very important. It is a critical transaction. Our best bet would be a team needing ROR playing C with plenty of depth on the wings. We could then replace him in our top 6. But that will be difficult because of his versatility. The first option is without a doubt to sign him long term. Getting someone like Yandle for ROR would not make us a better team overall in my opinion. Top 6 wingers can be found through free agency. But the price to pay is generally too high. With the talent level we have up front, we cannot waste $$$ on another forward. That is why I believe our lack of prospects on the wings is our #1 long-term problem. Look at Anaheim, they manufacture wingers and they are able to make trades because of it.
On defense, the first question is: Can we win the cup without a top 15 D in our ranks? Because as bad as we need EJ to continue to improve his game like he did under Roy, I don't think his ceiling is top 15. All recent cup winners had one of those: LA (Doughty), CHI (Keith) Boston (Chara). We don't have a potential top 15 in our system. In fact, nobody projects to be better than EJ. How do we get a top 15 D ? FA or trade Duchene, Mack or Landy. Even Landy alone wouldn't be enough. I believe Sakic wants to replicate the Sakic-Foppa duo with Mack and Duchene so he won't trade them. Landy is the Captain. He stays. So Free agency might be the only if we are convinced we cannot win without that top D.
With the way our team is shaping up, we have to look at the possibility of winning without a Top 15 D. To achieve that, you need to compensate by being outstanding in at least an other aspect. The offensive potential of our core is outstanding. Our goalie can be outstanding at times. Without a top 15 D, we need a better top 4. We need Bigras to become a top 4. We need to trade Elliott as soon as he showcases his potential for a stretch in the big league and increases value. We don't have room for him on the right side. We need Barrie to continue where he left off before you know what. It would be nice if Siemens can eventually replace what Stuart brings. The only thing missing is Erhoff after he leaves the Pens...
Ehroff - EJ
Holden - Barrie
Bigras - Redmond
Eventually, Bigras should take Holden's place in the top 4. I think we would need Hejda an extra year to give Bigras and Siemens more time to adapt. I think our D would be good enough to make a run.
So my plan is quite simple actually:
1) Keep ROR or at least get a reasonably-priced top 6 winger for him
2) Don't break the bank for a Top 15 FA LHD
3) Sign a top-tier (but not top 15) LHD (Erhoff calibre)
4) Bring in Bigras and Siemens slowly.
On another note...
Do you guys think Hishon could turn into Tanguay 2.0 and develop the ability to play both wings?
Because I don't see him as 3rd C. Maybe I am wrong. He has the smarts to become a good defensive player, but I prefer a bigger 3rd pivot, stonger on face-offs. Unless he becomes a more talented version of Yelle... I would like him to be part of the team's future. Partly because ihecertainly didn't deserve to have his career jeopardized like this. But I also like the way he sees the game and his passing ability.