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Peter Puck

Habs acquire Robert Lang and re-sign Brisebois

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I'm really harrassing with that idea, I know... but

I really do think that Plekanec's optimization, i.e. the best way we can use him, is as a 3rd line centre, WITH Higgins (they'd be a combo, if we were to do that)... that way, they would be one of our most lethal weapon... I can only remember in Hamilton, during the lockout, they were crazy together. Sh goals after Sh goals... they are so good defensively they know each other so well that they can dominate that way... that wouldn't be a 3rd line à la Joe Juneau in 2002... that'd be a 3rd line à la Jere Lehtinen in 99 (won the Selke and the cup, got 52 pts, 20 goals).

I however recognize that he is doing a good 1st line job...

A lot of people have been, well perhaps lulled is the best word, by the fact that Plex did well on that first line and they've forgotten that he brings extraordinary accountability in the defensive zone. As you say, his pairing with Higgins has always been good and the two have developed a lot of chemistry after years of playing together.

That said, I'm not sure Montreal will have a 'shut down' line in the strictest sense of the word. By acquiring Lang, it gives the club what amounts to three lines who can produce on any given night. Last season Montreal was at the top of the scoring tree and they've only added to that. Now, it's a truism that offense comes from great defense, but as long as the three lines play with accountability and maintain reasonable gap control (between forwards and defense) then I think all three lines can be successful.

Something else should be noted here which, I think, has been somewhat overlooked: Smoke and Ryder (the two major cogs replaced this season) weren't what anyone would call 'possession' players. Tanguay and Lang, on the other hand, have the ability to control the puck and have infinitely more hockey sense. In that respect we've already improved the defensive side of the puck immeasurably. If possession is nine tenths of the law, then in hockey it's nine tenths of defense. If the opposition doesn't have the puck, they can't score.

Not only has Gainey built a fast, dynamic and offensive club, but he's slowly building a strong puck possession team. It's not just about firewagon hockey, it's about controlling the game, the flow, and the possession. When you control those elements, you control your own destiny in this game, and you diminish the threat from any opposition.

Neither Lang nor Tanguay are known for defense, but just in possession alone they'll benefit the team defensively. Interestingly enough, the same can be said of Breezer. While he'll never be mistaken for a magnificent defender, in his venerable age he's learned to make less judgmental errors and his possession rate has improved.

A final thought: Lang has been called too old by some, but there is wisdom and patience in age; it's called experience. Juneau would never have been considered an offensive threat at the end, but he sure was smart enough to know when to take a step with the puck in his own zone and give his team just that much more of a chance to gain true control. Lang will do the same, even though he may not be the most effective defender.

It's the intangibles like that which make the biggest difference.

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A better way to control the possession game would be to acquire better puck moving defensemen. I see a lot of potential in regards to the Habs' prospects long term in this regard, but I still think it's a significant weakness on this team. Markov and Hamrlik are the only two in the top 6 that I'd consider effecient and intelligent with the puck.

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Just realized Lang broke into the NHL in 92-93 with the Los Angeles Kings...

39.gif

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Something else should be noted here which, I think, has been somewhat overlooked: Smoke and Ryder (the two major cogs replaced this season) weren't what anyone would call 'possession' players. Tanguay and Lang, on the other hand, have the ability to control the puck and have infinitely more hockey sense. In that respect we've already improved the defensive side of the puck immeasurably. If possession is nine tenths of the law, then in hockey it's nine tenths of defense. If the opposition doesn't have the puck, they can't score.

I completely agree. I sort of touched on that but didnt mention puck possesion specifically. Lang is defensive minded but still looks for offensive chances whenever possible. That is the huge difference over Smoke, Bonk, and even Yanic Perreault. None are defensive liabilities but only Lang seems to also be capable of being a quarterback setting up offensive plays and looking to go on the attackas long as his teamates are behind him. Yanic was generally a 20G guy but only got half of the assists (15) Lang typically gets 30+.

This year Lats better get over 20+ goals if he plays with Lang. Lang has way more offensive hockey sense than Habs previous 3rd line Centers while not being a defensive liability. Lang doesnt tend to just dump the puck into the other teams end during a line change like Bonk and Smoke almost always did. Lang goes into the corner and maintains puck possesion long enough for the new fresh teammates to race into the play. Thats why I want to see Kovalevs line come out right after Langs so the 2 of them will have a slight overlap of ice time to try to relive any previous Pitts chemestry.

Lang just seems to be 1 of those players who has a knack at being in the right place at the right time and takes the best action for that particular moment. On a lot of those plays in the YouTube clip it looks like Lang takes the wrong action, shooting instead of passing, a lot of those shots you wouldnt think had much a chance of going in, yet they are highlight clips of him scoring. On a lot of the goals the goalies must have though the shot would be harmless untill they turned around and noticed the red light was on. A lot of those goals look like flukes, but in the NHL you cant get 20+G year after year and be a fluke. Lang definitley has a deceptively strong shot that fools a lot of goalies at bad angles and through heavy traffic that somehow make it through.

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You cant break up the top line in kost pleks and kovalev! why would you, doesnt make sense.

koivu will play on the second because he has proven he plays very well (think olympics) with fast, scoring forwards. Tanguay is like a Selanne who worked very well with koivu. Now you have a choice....higgins lats and lil kost have all played well with koivu in the past. But you need some defensive presence or size. both higgins and latendresse play well along the boards, and both could be goal scorers. You should have higgins to play with koivu because of his speed. Both his linemates have explosive first steps.

Lang needs a set up man, enter lil kost who works hard defensively as well. Having latendresse play with lang adds size and someone to muscle the puck along the boards.

So your top 3 lines:

kost/pleks/kovalev

tanguay/koivu/higgins

Lats/Lang/lil kost

your fourth line changes depending on opposition. I really believe that Laraque will not play all 82, more like 50-60 if that. He has more skill that ppl give him credit for. Begin will play but will be injured at some point, kostopoulos deserves to play after his playoffs and lapierre will play because the team is transforming him into a long term plan i believe. everey player on the fourth lines goes hard and will get there games off to rest bumps and bruises, and rightfully so.

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A lot of people have been, well perhaps lulled is the best word, by the fact that Plex did well on that first line and they've forgotten that he brings extraordinary accountability in the defensive zone. As you say, his pairing with Higgins has always been good and the two have developed a lot of chemistry after years of playing together.

That said, I'm not sure Montreal will have a 'shut down' line in the strictest sense of the word. By acquiring Lang, it gives the club what amounts to three lines who can produce on any given night. Last season Montreal was at the top of the scoring tree and they've only added to that. Now, it's a truism that offense comes from great defense, but as long as the three lines play with accountability and maintain reasonable gap control (between forwards and defense) then I think all three lines can be successful.

Something else should be noted here which, I think, has been somewhat overlooked: Smoke and Ryder (the two major cogs replaced this season) weren't what anyone would call 'possession' players. Tanguay and Lang, on the other hand, have the ability to control the puck and have infinitely more hockey sense. In that respect we've already improved the defensive side of the puck immeasurably. If possession is nine tenths of the law, then in hockey it's nine tenths of defense. If the opposition doesn't have the puck, they can't score.

Not only has Gainey built a fast, dynamic and offensive club, but he's slowly building a strong puck possession team. It's not just about firewagon hockey, it's about controlling the game, the flow, and the possession. When you control those elements, you control your own destiny in this game, and you diminish the threat from any opposition.

Neither Lang nor Tanguay are known for defense, but just in possession alone they'll benefit the team defensively. Interestingly enough, the same can be said of Breezer. While he'll never be mistaken for a magnificent defender, in his venerable age he's learned to make less judgmental errors and his possession rate has improved.

A final thought: Lang has been called too old by some, but there is wisdom and patience in age; it's called experience. Juneau would never have been considered an offensive threat at the end, but he sure was smart enough to know when to take a step with the puck in his own zone and give his team just that much more of a chance to gain true control. Lang will do the same, even though he may not be the most effective defender.

It's the intangibles like that which make the biggest difference.

Excellent points. Another thing to note regarding possession is Laraque. You can't knock that big bugger off the puck when he's against the boards in the offensive zone. It's pretty hard for the other team to score when some huge monster won't let you have the puck. Two goals were scored against us in our second game against Pittsburg by this method.

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I'm glad this deal went through and good decision by BG as usual... Too tired to actually read through the last 6 pages, but do you guys think Lang's signing spells the end of Chipper staying up with the big team this year? Or do you think he still has a chance and someone might be moved/waived at the end of training camp?

Speaking of which, does Chips have to clear waivers yet? and if so, can someone refresh me on the waivers rules? IF they send him down at the end of training camp, does he have to clear just to go down??

Edit: never mind all ... I just read the 5th page of this thread and lots have already commented... Good debate... I'd like to hope Chipper plays really really well during training camp, and forces them to keep him at least for a while... But if he's not good enough, he's not good enough, and I can handle that...

If someone has the answer to the waivers question, please let me know...

Edited by ShortHanded

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Some great points there Colin.

As a puck possession team we don't need nor do I see us using the traditional role of a shutdown line. We have three "first" lines and a crush and destroy, shock and awe line. We are not only going to be exciting team to watch, we are going to be a very difficult team to play against.

The Youtube video was a real treat. Thanks for posting the link.

I noticed that many of his goals came from Ryder's old spot in the slot. He can also carry the puck, make that one move to get around an opponent and make something happen in traffic close to the net. He seems to be so versatile.

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Something else should be noted here which, I think, has been somewhat overlooked: Smoke and Ryder (the two major cogs replaced this season) weren't what anyone would call 'possession' players. Tanguay and Lang, on the other hand, have the ability to control the puck and have infinitely more hockey sense. In that respect we've already improved the defensive side of the puck immeasurably. If possession is nine tenths of the law, then in hockey it's nine tenths of defense. If the opposition doesn't have the puck, they can't score.

And which NHL team dominated last season with a system based on puck possession, lead by the NHL leader in takeaways and Selke winner?

I'm glad Detroit won last year because their style is much more beneficial to the league as a whole than Anaheim's. I think the Habs are poised to play the same style as last season based on fast transition and speed (Kovy lost weight just to be faster, Tanguay and Langs are 100 times faster than Ryder & Smoke) but we'll still have to cut down on shots which we did last season but were again in the bottom of the League.

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I've read all 6 pages of this thread, and I must say that this is one of the best discussions i've read on this site. Great points from everybody! :clap:

I would just like to say that I don't remember the last time that I was soooooo anxious to see the season start. We have a great team (most likely top 5 in the NHL) and it'll be an interesting season. Can't wait for October!

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A lot of people have been, well perhaps lulled is the best word, by the fact that Plex did well on that first line and they've forgotten that he brings extraordinary accountability in the defensive zone. As you say, his pairing with Higgins has always been good and the two have developed a lot of chemistry after years of playing together.

That said, I'm not sure Montreal will have a 'shut down' line in the strictest sense of the word. By acquiring Lang, it gives the club what amounts to three lines who can produce on any given night. Last season Montreal was at the top of the scoring tree and they've only added to that. Now, it's a truism that offense comes from great defense, but as long as the three lines play with accountability and maintain reasonable gap control (between forwards and defense) then I think all three lines can be successful.

Something else should be noted here which, I think, has been somewhat overlooked: Smoke and Ryder (the two major cogs replaced this season) weren't what anyone would call 'possession' players. Tanguay and Lang, on the other hand, have the ability to control the puck and have infinitely more hockey sense. In that respect we've already improved the defensive side of the puck immeasurably. If possession is nine tenths of the law, then in hockey it's nine tenths of defense. If the opposition doesn't have the puck, they can't score.

Not only has Gainey built a fast, dynamic and offensive club, but he's slowly building a strong puck possession team. It's not just about firewagon hockey, it's about controlling the game, the flow, and the possession. When you control those elements, you control your own destiny in this game, and you diminish the threat from any opposition.

Neither Lang nor Tanguay are known for defense, but just in possession alone they'll benefit the team defensively. Interestingly enough, the same can be said of Breezer. While he'll never be mistaken for a magnificent defender, in his venerable age he's learned to make less judgmental errors and his possession rate has improved.

A final thought: Lang has been called too old by some, but there is wisdom and patience in age; it's called experience. Juneau would never have been considered an offensive threat at the end, but he sure was smart enough to know when to take a step with the puck in his own zone and give his team just that much more of a chance to gain true control. Lang will do the same, even though he may not be the most effective defender.

It's the intangibles like that which make the biggest difference.

nice words ACF :clap:

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And which NHL team dominated last season with a system based on puck possession, lead by the NHL leader in takeaways and Selke winner?

I'm glad Detroit won last year because their style is much more beneficial to the league as a whole than Anaheim's. I think the Habs are poised to play the same style as last season based on fast transition and speed (Kovy lost weight just to be faster, Tanguay and Langs are 100 times faster than Ryder & Smoke) but we'll still have to cut down on shots which we did last season but were again in the bottom of the League.

Unfortunately, we don't have Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Kronwall anchoring our D, let alone Datsyuk or Zetterberg's two-way dominance.

We're more in line with Dallas than Detroit at this point. Dallas still has stronger C depth, but I'd say we have better wing depth. Our D depth is comparable. Goaltending... if Price plays to his potential, he can close the gap on a guy like Turco.

No one is in Detroit's league, and we won't beat them in a best of 7 barring major injuries to their team unless we add like, Niedermeyer or something.

Compared to the East, we are definitely capable of playing a game the majority of teams can't compete with. That's definitely encouraging.

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Unfortunately, we don't have Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Kronwall anchoring our D, let alone Datsyuk or Zetterberg's two-way dominance.

We're more in line with Dallas than Detroit at this point. Dallas still has stronger C depth, but I'd say we have better wing depth. Our D depth is comparable. Goaltending... if Price plays to his potential, he can close the gap on a guy like Turco.

No one is in Detroit's league, and we won't beat them in a best of 7 barring major injuries to their team unless we add like, Niedermeyer or something.

Compared to the East, we are definitely capable of playing a game the majority of teams can't compete with. That's definitely encouraging.

Detroit is a heavy favourite, no doubt.

But anybody can lose in a 7 game series. Who is to say the Wings even make the finals. To many things can

happen during a season (Stanley Cup hangover, emergence of players from nowhere, hot goalie in May etc) for

me to write off our chances in a 7 game series in September.

They look like a powerhouse that cannot lose, but so did the 67 Hawks, 71 Bruins, 86 Oilers, 93 Pens entering the playoffs.

Nobody has repeated in over 10 years, including some powerhouse Red Wing teams.

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Detroit is a heavy favourite, no doubt.

But anybody can lose in a 7 game series. Who is to say the Wings even make the finals. To many things can

happen during a season (Stanley Cup hangover, emergence of players from nowhere, hot goalie in May etc) for

me to write off our chances in a 7 game series in September.

They look like a powerhouse that cannot lose, but so did the 67 Hawks, 71 Bruins, 86 Oilers, 93 Pens entering the playoffs.

Nobody has repeated in over 10 years, including some powerhouse Red Wing teams.

I realize. I qualified that by saying injuries would be our best hope. A more likely scenario than the Wings losing in the SC Finals would be them losing in an earlier round. If they made the Final, I'd be scared, because they'd obviously be playing to their full potential at that point. Them at their full potential vs. us at our full potential? Detroit hands down. That's more what I was getting at.

Us vs. Dallas in that same situation? Very evenly matched.

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I realize. I qualified that by saying injuries would be our best hope. A more likely scenario than the Wings losing in the SC Finals would be them losing in an earlier round. If they made the Final, I'd be scared, because they'd obviously be playing to their full potential at that point. Them at their full potential vs. us at our full potential? Detroit hands down. That's more what I was getting at.

Us vs. Dallas in that same situation? Very evenly matched.

All I am saying is I have seen to many Roys, Giguere's, Penney's change a series.

Detroit would be the favourite right now, but countless things could also happen over the next 6 months

to change everyone's perception. Gainey could fleece somebody in a deal, Latendresse or Kostitsyn could

make a leap, anything.

All I am saying.

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I realize. I qualified that by saying injuries would be our best hope. A more likely scenario than the Wings losing in the SC Finals would be them losing in an earlier round. If they made the Final, I'd be scared, because they'd obviously be playing to their full potential at that point. Them at their full potential vs. us at our full potential? Detroit hands down. That's more what I was getting at.

Us vs. Dallas in that same situation? Very evenly matched.

There really isn't as huge a gap as people think between Detroit and the rest of the league. I agree that they're the best team but they're hardly more loaded than some of the post-cap Senators and Sabres teams we've seen recently. On paper, I'd say we have more scoring depth than the Red Wings.

Their D is better than ours but the main thing that makes them better is the winning tradition that they have and the leaders on that team - Lidstrom, Chelios, Draper, Maltby - that are so used to tossing inexperienced teams aside. Really, if Price plays properly we could definitely give them a run for their money, at least as well as the other Western powerhouses could.

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If someone has the answer to the waivers question, please let me know...

Chipchura does not have to clear waivers at this point, however, he's not too far from having to either. He's currently 22, and turns 23 during the season. The threshold for 22 and 23 year olds when they are on their 3rd year of an NHL contract are as follows:

22: 70 GP (between regular season/playoffs)

23: 60 GP (between regular season/playoffs)

Last year, Chipchura played 36 games, meaning he's more than halfway to the threshold already.

I may as well note this at the same time, as there has been some confusion with Latendresse. As soon as a skater plays 160 games (between season and playoffs), he's automatically eligible for waivers. Latendresse has a combined 161 and thus under all circumstances is eligible for waivers. Lapierre falls into the 60 game category mentioned above, which he has surpassed, so he too must clear.

Hope that clarifies everything for you.

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There really isn't as huge a gap as people think between Detroit and the rest of the league. I agree that they're the best team but they're hardly more loaded than some of the post-cap Senators and Sabres teams we've seen recently. On paper, I'd say we have more scoring depth than the Red Wings.

Their D is better than ours but the main thing that makes them better is the winning tradition that they have and the leaders on that team - Lidstrom, Chelios, Draper, Maltby - that are so used to tossing inexperienced teams aside. Really, if Price plays properly we could definitely give them a run for their money, at least as well as the other Western powerhouses could.

To what BTH has said, I'd like to add one other item: Montreal is younger and therefore has more potential. Guys like the Kosty brothers, Higgins, Latendresse et al. may still take another few steps forward in their progression. Taking a long look at the overall lineups, I'd have to say Montreal is probably slightly ahead overall up front, lagging a bit at the blueline, and it's almost impossible to tell about goaltending. If Price plays close to potential, the tick is in Montreal's box. If he still needs a year or two to reach the stars, then the nod goes to Detroit.

The Wings may have two "superstars" up front, but we outscored them. With Ryder and Smoke instead of Tangs and Lang. The safe bet says Montreal improves up front.

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To what BTH has said, I'd like to add one other item: Montreal is younger and therefore has more potential. Guys like the Kosty brothers, Higgins, Latendresse et al. may still take another few steps forward in their progression. Taking a long look at the overall lineups, I'd have to say Montreal is probably slightly ahead overall up front, lagging a bit at the blueline, and it's almost impossible to tell about goaltending. If Price plays close to potential, the tick is in Montreal's box. If he still needs a year or two to reach the stars, then the nod goes to Detroit.

The Wings may have two "superstars" up front, but we outscored them. With Ryder and Smoke instead of Tangs and Lang. The safe bet says Montreal improves up front.

agree with pretty much everything you say, except to note that we have to worry about regression from Kovalev and Koivu. On the blue line, it is also quite plausible that Hamrlik loses another step as well (although we should see improvement from O'Byrne and Gorges).

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agree with pretty much everything you say, except to note that we have to worry about regression from Kovalev and Koivu. On the blue line, it is also quite plausible that Hamrlik loses another step as well (although we should see improvement from O'Byrne and Gorges).

That is, for sure, something to consider. I wonder though, if we haven't seen the best from all three players. Consider that, when challenged and surrounded by excellent players, Kovalev takes his game up a notch. For Koivu, the simple act of not having to carry the team offensively as he did for a number of years relieves a lot of the burden: he's only 33 and his health doesn't seem (fingers crossed) to be as much of an issue as it was. Hamrlik may be the most prone to losing a step, but even there, I wonder if any loss might be compensated with the improved talent level around him.

There's been talk of us struggling (comparatively speaking) from the back end, but again, I have to question that. Montreal has at least a couple of young defenders who may tease this year. Valentenko comes to mind right off. I don't know the status of Emelin (I seem to think he's not here until next season), but even if one new possession defender steps in and Georges and O'Byrne take another developmental step or two, we're looking quite good, in my opinion.

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That is, for sure, something to consider. I wonder though, if we haven't seen the best from all three players. Consider that, when challenged and surrounded by excellent players, Kovalev takes his game up a notch. For Koivu, the simple act of not having to carry the team offensively as he did for a number of years relieves a lot of the burden: he's only 33 and his health doesn't seem (fingers crossed) to be as much of an issue as it was. Hamrlik may be the most prone to losing a step, but even there, I wonder if any loss might be compensated with the improved talent level around him.

There's been talk of us struggling (comparatively speaking) from the back end, but again, I have to question that. Montreal has at least a couple of young defenders who may tease this year. Valentenko comes to mind right off. I don't know the status of Emelin (I seem to think he's not here until next season), but even if one new possession defender steps in and Georges and O'Byrne take another developmental step or two, we're looking quite good, in my opinion.

I don't think that Kovalev will slack, I just think he is getting older and it is rare for a player (even with his skill) to not lose production at his age. Hopefully that loss of production can hold off for another year or his supporting cast can cover up any degradation.

Koivu wasn't the main offensive centre for much of last season and it didn't allow him a huge production increase. Now Lang > Smolinski and hopefully Plek 09 > Plek 08, but again we are talking about a player leaving his prime.

I tend to think Hamrlik's style of play will age well, but who knows.

Emelin's contract is up at the end of this season and then in theory MTL should be able to pick him up.

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Emelin's contract is up at the end of this season and then in theory MTL should be able to pick him up.

unless he f-up once again like last summer.

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I don't think that Kovalev will slack, I just think he is getting older and it is rare for a player (even with his skill) to not lose production at his age. Hopefully that loss of production can hold off for another year or his supporting cast can cover up any degradation.

Koivu wasn't the main offensive centre for much of last season and it didn't allow him a huge production increase. Now Lang > Smolinski and hopefully Plek 09 > Plek 08, but again we are talking about a player leaving his prime.

I tend to think Hamrlik's style of play will age well, but who knows.

Emelin's contract is up at the end of this season and then in theory MTL should be able to pick him up.

Brind'Amour

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Is Lidstrom-Rafalski-Kronwall-Stuart better than Pronger-Niedermayer-Schneider-Beauchemin?

Granted, we're not up there yet. We dont have a Norris candidate... yet. Markov-Komisarek-Hamrlik are a great top 3, but we're still missing that solid 4th guy. It's not the candidates that are lacking, but they're all in the AHL or juniors. Unless Carle or Valentenko suddenly grows by leaps this year, we'll have to hope O'Byrne & Gorges stabilizes their respective games and that Bouillon/Brisebois can still play good minutes.

As for Hamrlik losing a step: he's so sound positionally that it's not something that should affect him until very late in his career. His offensive stats might suffer, but defensively I doubt it'd have significant impact.

Komisarek is the wildcard here. I think he still has some untapped offensive potential. He'll be happy to cover for Markov and focus on defense, but he could raises his numbers if he got some PP minutes. He's got a heavy shot.

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