by Bill Heintz
It’s a little early for Daddy to start drinking yet, but I’m in the mood to celebrate.
First, to digress: the chat boards have been worried for a couple of months now. Sure we have lots of depth up front…lots of competition on the forward lines. Truth is, we have the potential to have four defensively responsible scoring lines. And with the inevitability of injuries, we finally bave depth players who can come in and contribute when the bones start cracking. Sure the Sedins are amongst the most durable in the league, but when a scorer goes down, it’s pretty tough to replace them with a fifth line grinder.
We now have guys that can score who may not even make this team. With guys like Hodgson, Grabner and Shirokoff pushing from below, you can pretty much sense the level of competition that will infuse this year’s training/exhibition game camp.
But the big worry was on the back end. We lost big Matty because, with his aging game, he wasn’t going to be worth 3 and a half million bucks. But the guy got us some points and he played fairly impressive minutes.
Not so easy to replace.
So the rumours floated around about guys like Seidenberg, Ehrhoff and Schneider. We just kept hoping that Gillis would grab one of those guys. Free agents are attractive because they don’t cost assets. And cap space is at a premium so maybe it’d be better to look at a guy who won’t cost so much.
So just get us one of those guys, Mike.
But then in one day, Gillis grabs two of those three…and it still didn’t cost us any assets! Well, some might consider White and Rahimi assets.
But are guys that will never play in the NHL truly assets?
Never’s a big word you say…well, I’ve seen both these guys play. White just cannot connect the dots, even in the NCAA, and Rahimi…well, he just can’t can’t skate. So yeah, never.
And now we have eight defensemen with legitimate NHL skills. And again, I remind you, D-bones are often broken in today’s high-paced, no obstruction NHL. So we need the depth, sure, but the radio talk shows are all over the idea that Gillis has another move under his belt. The two names are Heatley and Kessel. You never know, but if Gillis did go after one of those two, I’d think it would be Heatley.
Half the fans are in full revolt over the idea of going after Heater. And it would surely cost a package of Bieksa, Demitra and probably a Corey Schneider.
Expensive, certainly. But worth it?
Well, Gillis is big on character and leadership. Not many consider that to be Heatley’s skill base. But truth here: Heatley considers that he has leadership and character. And don’t lose sight of that deceptively simple fact. Heatley thought he would be thrust into a leadership role. But he showed up to camp our of shape and his role steadily declined. Showing up to camp out of shape is not exactly the kind of thing we hope from our leaders in the NHL.
But he still scored 39 goals and even out of shape he lead that ugly Ottawa team in goal scoring. And he could easily return to fifty goal status. Yeah, you need goaltending to win a Cup, but you also need goal scoring.
So will Gillis go after Heater? Well, far be it from me to try and predict the moves of a mind that is much sharper than mine, but I would be surprised if he didn’t have one more move up his sleeve before the regular season starts.
Hell, knowing Gillis, there could be a couple more moves before the puck drops.