Sunday, June 28, 2015

Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

The Sweet, New, Alternate Patch.  Boom!
The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is in the books.  My greatest hope was that we would just eat the good draft position we earned with an under performing year, and re-stock the development pipeline.  My wish was granted, as the CBJ did nothing crazy, though they tried.  That's perfect.  Thank you Santa Claus! The biggest difference between Noah Hannifan and Zach Werenski is where they are on the arc of the development timeline.  There is nothing to indicate which of them has a higher peak, but undoubtedly Hannifan is further along now than the 17 year old Werenski (turns 18 on July 29, according to what I have read).   In short, he is young, and the time spent in development this next year is time well spent.

The bottom line is the CBJ used advantageous draft position to restock the pipeline in a lot of key areas, which is what the franchise needed for long term health.  If you are willing to accept the end of the season run as something representative of what the team, as currently composed, can do, than this upcoming season looks great.  It's more complicated than that, of course, but there are significant additions already coming into the existing squad we watched play last year, namely Ryan Murray and David Clarkson.  Clarkson brings all of the physical, and 75% of the offense that Nathan Horton was supposed to bring, and tore an oblique muscle in his first shift as a Jacket, so was a non-factor last year.  That is unlikely to be the case in 2015-16.  As near as I can tell, no one is having off season surgery this year, which is a definite step forward for the hockey club.

I like the defensive picks we made, as these guys will emerge when we need them to over the next 3 years, when we hope to really be pushing for something.  I especially like the first second round pick of Paul Bittner, Oliver Bjorkstrand's linemate from Portland.  Things that maximize Bjorkstrand's potential have a real impact on how far this team can go ultimately.  Bittner brings real size to the game, and it will be intriguing to see how this develops in the future.  I love this pick.

Keep in mind the two headed (Lake Erie) monster we need to deal with here.  It is in our best interest to establish a winning culture in Cleveland, with the Lake Erie Monsters, while making a significant push for the playoffs with the parent club.  Having Karlsson (Wild Bill), Dano, Rychel, Anderson and Bjorkstrand down there to get things rolling, and establish a winning culture is a huge contribution to the organization.  Let me say this a different way.  Establishing a winning culture in Cleveland will result in box office success for the minor league club, while prepping these guys for the NHL.  We have a large, vested interest in the Lake Erie franchise, and it is a good time to establish that success while we have a glut of veteran forwards at the NHL level.  ERATTA - Oh yeah, I forgot Sonny Milano.  Doh!

Our team needs to establish itself as a force in the Eastern Conference this year.  We have a veteran group of forwards who will need to get that job done.  If we can establish that this year, we have a pipeline of talent that will help to sustain that position.  And if you are serious about a run for the Cup, you have to be in a position to compete, year after year.  We haven't been there yet, but it's getting close.


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