Whereas the analysis of what Winnipeg will have on the left side was not too bad, ailier droit probably looks more like our centres. That's just a fair warning going into it. Save the acquisition of Blake Wheeler, this would be a bit of a horrorshow going into the season, but it's not all doom-and-gloom if you consider the prospects and the fact that there are a couple of good right-wingers that could fall to the 3rd round in the draft (we don't currently have a 2nd round pick).
First, if you are completely unfamiliar with the statistics I am using, please have a look at the original Who We Be post, where I provide brief explanations. For those already in-the-know, here's a refresher on league averages and ranges in 2010-11 for these stats:
|Statistic||League Average||Range - Low||Range - High|
|5v5 TOI/60 fwd||12.01||2.98||17.66|
|5v5 PIMdiff/60 fwd||0.08||-5.0||1.9|
|5v5 G/60 fwd||0.68||0.0||1.94|
|5v5 A1/60 fwd||0.56||0.0||1.51|
|5v4 SF/60 fwd||44.6||26.7||69.2|
|5v4 G/60 fwd||1.45||0.0||4.07|
|5v4 A1/60 fwd||1.19||0.0||3.81|
|* Ranges for forwards and defencemen are established across players playing at least 30 games last year|
|* Ranges for those in special teams situations are across players playing at least 30 games and 1 min/60 of PK/PP|
You'll notice for some of the statistics that forwards and defencemen have been separated. So let's see here...
|Age||GP||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||PPG||5v5 TOI/60||5v4 TOI/60||4v5 TOI/60||5v5 O-ZoneS%|
|2010 - Blake Wheeler||24||81||18||26||44||10||46||0||13.14||1.31||1.34||53.4|
|5v5 BZS||5v5 PIMdiff/60||5v5 CrsOn||5v5 CrsRel||5v5 G/60||5v5 A1/60||5v4 SF/60||5v4 G/60||5v4 A1/60||4v5 SA/60||5v5 QoC||5v5 QoT||GVT|
You probably won't confuse Wheeler with an offensive stalwart, but he came to Atlanta and played solid two-way hockey in the final third of the season. A big forward, his bloated plus-minus in his rookie season caused more than a few people to have unreasonable expectations of him the following seasons. I think Winnipeg ultimately benefited from that by acquiring him along with Mark Stuart for failed-1st rounder Boris Valabik and Rich Peverley. What they lost in an every-minute center they gained with an every-minute right winger who's four years younger. With three seasons under his belt and only 24 years old, Wheeler can still mature into a solid 2nd-liner, low-tier 1st-liner that can handle defensive assignments. A top priority should be re-signing him, as he's an RFA right now. Grade: B
While his first three months appeared to be pretty strong offensively, he fizzled in the second half and the underlying numbers weren't painting a pretty picture anyway. Like Wheeler, Stewart is an RFA, but re-signing him doesn't need to be a major priority. He hasn't produced at any major level yet, nor has he shown much defensively, so he shouldn't be retained for a hefty or long-term deal. Grade: D+
There might have been a time when Dvorak was a useful, effective player, but at 34 years old and with free agency looming, Winnipeg is probably better off just letting him go. He didn't handle extraordinarily tough minutes, and he was an average penalty-killer on teams that weren't particularly good shorthanded. As with Stewart, it leaves another hole to fill, but I don't see Dvorak being an asset. Grade: F
Your consummate 4th-liner who kills penalties (not very well, it seems), Thorburn hangs on for lack of alternatives and a cheap contract (the only person tied up for longer is Dustin Byfuglien). At 28 years old, he's not going to be much more than he is right now; at least he's a big scrappy body that doesn't hurt you through penalties. Grade: F
Stapleton is a kind-of AHL "lifer," a guy who can excel down there but has trouble at the highest level. He makes for a good 4th-liner because the offence he can provide is better than a goon, but he also had to cover for some horrendous teammates, which he won't do well. Good value for what you're getting. Grade: D
Stapleton mercifully ends our major league wingers, but what do we have in the system?
Note: I define prospects as players under contract and under 25 years old. The NHL equivalencies assume an 82-game NHL season, and the grade refers to that player's potential as a prospect.
|Age||Height||Weight||'10-'11 League(s)||GP||NHLE G||NHLE A||NHLE Pts||PIM/G||Plays PP?||PK?|
|2010 - Spencer Machacek||23||185cm (6'1")||88kg (195lbs)||AHL,NHL||77||10||13||23||0.584||Y||Y|
With 3 years in the AHL under his belt and slow-but-steady improvement, Machacek is one of those guys I think can be ready to make the jump to the NHL level. He won't blow you away, but with his experience playing in all situations at the AHL level he could potentially develop into a serviceable 3rd-liner. A tendency to find the net is a nice little bonus. Grade: C+
Aliu is a former 2nd-rounder with a big body and a little bit of a mean streak; when I mean "little bit," I mean sometimes it causes him to break his hand in a bar fight. After a couple of abortive seasons in the AHL, he looked like he was starting to find his groove at Peoria. I still hold out hope for this kid...he could develop into a solid hockey player as long as his attitude doesn't become a problem. Grade: B-
A goon who could score goals in the QMJHL, he simply became a goon in the ECHL. I don't see him getting beyond being a goon in the AHL. Grade: D-
A large person who skates. Grade: F
It's tough to say which is the greater liability, right wing or centre, but ultimately I think centre is the more important position and there are at least signs of life in the system for right wing. There aren't a lot of appealing options at the right side in free agency, unless we want to be the next team to pay for and take a chance on Nikolay Zherdev or Marek Svatos. That said, we'll want to find someone to help with our scoring lines. Looking overseas is always an option; hell, we could try for Jaromir Jagr and fail miserably! In all honesty, it probably wouldn't be a huge "loss."
All told, for the right wing position, we should find a veteran scoring winger as a stop-gap and use our 3rd round pick to add to the system. Centre is the bigger need right now, but right wing isn't far behind.