I’m quite sure that upon reading the question posed in today’s header, most of you already answered the enquiry out loud. And I’m certain it was phrased something like… “Do we need another winger for one of the top two lines? Well, yeah…DUH, Rawhide”!
Uh-huh…and maybe there were a few other special words strategically placed as well.
But let’s take a look at this for just a second. Right now the top two lines that could be rolled out October 8 could possibly consist of Nik Antropov centering Nic Bergfors and Bryan Little as well as Rich Peverley in between Dustin Byfuglien and Evander Kane.
So…which one of those players isn’t worthy of top-six status? I’m sure that debate will be waged in the comment section below.
Regardless, there are a couple of issues here to take into consideration. First of which is that Bergie is still yet unsigned. When the RFA and the Thrashers will come to terms is anyone’s guess. Then you also have the whole “Byfuglien could play on defense” thingy that’s been floated out there by Mr. Dudley. Take either of those two players out of the equation then I join the chorus of those calling for a deal to bring in another winger.
Could Andrew Ladd be called upon to fill a possible void if Bergfors holds out? Sure, sure. The former Blackhawk has netted 32 goals, 87 overall points and was a +28 in the past two seasons in Chicago. As an added bonus, he’s played in all 164 games during that time as well, so health issue doubts don’t circle around him.
But I’m looking for Ladd to join Slater and Fredrik Modin/Spencer Machacek/Fredrik Pettersson on the third line, depending on who impresses most during training camp and preseason. If so…coupled with a possible fourth line of Patrice Cormier, Ben Eager and Eric Boulton…then your odd man out might just be Chris Thorburn, who could then be used as trade bait.
Now, if Big Buff is tapped to play back, then that creates a bit of a crowd on the blueline. He would join Ron Hainsey, Toby Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Johnny Oduya, Brent Sopel and Boris Valabik there. That’s seven, leaving no room at the inn for Arturs Kulda.
I don’t know about you, but I want Kulda up here this fall.
Somehow, I think Dudley and Co. do too. If Byfuglien does indeed wind up joining the Thrashers’ defensive corps, I would imagine it was because the team was able to package up Valabik with [insert name of any of the handful of two-way players that have been acquired recently here] to bring in that much sought after top-six forward.
I’m not ‘down’ on Boris, mind you. I see a lot of upside to his game…heck, there is a lot of up side that comes in a 6’-7” 245 lb frame. Plus, he’s also cut down on his propensity to commit the untimely penalty. During last year’s injury-shortened season, he earned 36 penalty minutes in 23 games played, (1.56 PIM per game). This is an improvement on the 2.64 PIM per game the year before that and 6 PIM per game during seven games played in the 2006-07 season.
Do the Thrashers need to add another top-six forward to the roster?
Total Voters: 150
But if given the choice between Valabik and Kulda right now…I’d choose Kulda.
So returning to the question of if we need another top-six forward, my answer is “it depends”. If a deal could be made to procure one at the cost of a Boris Valabik and/or Chris Thorburn along with…oh, say…a Nigel Dawes or Patrick Rissmiller type of player, then I think Dudley would entertain the discussion. Same true if a deal can be worked to ship Bergfors to a place he’s be happy to ink a deal with in return for a signed winger of similar quality.
But if any the price is too high… I’d venture to guess they’d keep Buff on the forward line while Kulda and Valabik compete with Freddy Meyer to round out the seven man defensive group. Then allow prospects like Cormier, Machacek and Pettersson to do battle with Dawes for the remaining spots on the forward lines.
That should make for a very interesting training camp.