With a tough loss against the Islanders, my rational brain has quietly set aside it's optimism for a post season berth this coming April. My heart is still in in, white-knuckling that sliver of hope, but this of course, is simply the cost of following sports, and I have learned to find peace in the heart of that constant war within.
The coping mechanism for this is of course to pop on a GM hat and tinker. Here's my latest set of fever dreams you're invited to throw spoiled produce at. Defense:It's pretty easy to see that there's a bit of a ravine down the middle of the defense group.
Not a lot of blue there, which is, as you might infer, not ideal. What to do.
Before diving in to my regular nonsense, I think there is an internal option, and I cannot fathom why he's stuck in the AHL after miraculously returning from a season in the KHL, but Lawrence Pilut really ought to be playing with the big club:
Make it make sense. I don't imagine the sabres will bring him back on anything like a one way deal, but could see him getting a two way with a tank club, on the chance he can turn in to an attractive depth option at the deadline for a contender. Which I hope he does. Man deserves better.
Anyway, here are some Ideas I'm kinda stuck on for external replacements.
A divisional and geographic rival, who just absolutely loaded up for a run at the title, thumbing their noses at the record smashing Bruins. a team who, themselves added smart pieces to bolster an already unreasonably successful side, trying to get one last bite at the big one before their current generation core hangs them up. Liljegren, despite posting solid effects and a favorable player card from Shayna and Dom at the Athletic, has found himself sliding in the esteem of the organisation behind shiny new guys McCabe, and Schenn (??). Public chatter is he needs to be better for them, which, sure I guess, but actual results seem to indicate he's better than they appear to be crediting him for. An argument could be made the Leafs may be in a position to move his modest deal for assets to refresh their now depleated cupboard, and relatively few early round picks in the lead up to the looming Matthews/Nylander extension-ocalypse, they may be sensible to stockpile some more reliable ELC's to either surround those two monster contracts, or try to replace the one that walks. In the immediate term, They have 13.5M in UFA money coming off the books, and seemingly no indication Jake Muzzin will return from a season ending spine injury that puts an exclamation mark on a career defined by high impact physicality. Shipping out a 23yr old making 1.4 for another year with RFA rights may seem insane, But hey, it's Toronto baybeeee, a flame out this year could prompt some madness y'know. My expectations are low though.
Calgary are about to bomb out of the playoff race after what was an admirable reset in the devastating loss of both Gadreau to Columbus (of all places) in Free Agency, and Matthew Tkachuk demanding out. Brad Treliving did his damnedest to make lemonade, and it just hasn't worked. The cupboard isn't bare, but it could certainly use a spruce up. He's in an ok position really, with 10.5M UFA money on the way out, and those spots readily filled by graduating prospects, but looking at the broader picture for Calgary, the argument that a re-stock is in order is easy to make. I think Andersson may be their best leverage to maximize the intake and build on what they've managed to do last off-season, grow their existing youth in to a new core and surround it with some more reinforcements.
Calgary Side note:
Whats up with Oliver Kylington. He's an interesting factor for Calgary. If Andersson is a hard no from them, I'd be interested to see if they'd be open to letting Kevyn talk to him and find out if he'd be coming back. A year off is a year off, even if he is staying in shape on his own, but he posted promising numbers, so maybe there's something can be done there.
This one's an absolute pipedream. Burns has been positively monstrous for the Canes, and they have 34.6M in UFA money about to land back in their pocket. Don Waddell is alright at this it seems. The only concern is that leaves them minus both their captain, and their current duo of goalies, but I can't imagine those 3 are going to eat a significant enough portion of that open payroll to necessitate moving Burns. The only possible reason I could see them making an attempt to move him would be the two remaning years on his deal take him to 42, and perhaps there's a reluctance to sit on a 5mil player north of 40. Which in turn leads one to ask, why would Buffalo then do that with all of Dahlin, Power, Mittlestadt, Krebs, Joki, Bryson, Stillman and Luukonen due extensions that last year of the Burns contract. I have no answer for that beyond Buffalo having fully SEVENTEEN million space at time of writing, and 16.3M in UFA money about to walk. I expect some chunk of that 30+M will go to extensions for probably Girgensons, and Okposo if he wants to come back, Jost and Clague maybe, but that's maybe 8 total, the cap floor is a factor that needs to be considered, and seeing the teams insistence on sticking with Anderson, they seem to see age as a factor to work with, not flee from, and it sure looks like Burns is a consistent impactful contributor, to say nothing of the whole suite of Intangibles one inevitably has to touch on when talking about trades and player/team chemistry and the like. Burns is pretty universally well liked, respected, and an absolute space cadet of a dude, I think would fit well with the whole vibes aspect.
So that's my 3. I could go further, but for now that's enough to argue over in the comments, and still have some left in the old brain tank to write about later on as the actual off-season comes to depress us all. Thanks for reading.
This was published before the Dallas game. Yikes.