Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Decisions, Decisions – Deconstructing the D-men

My first post about our post-season activity was dedicated to all the forwards in a RFA/UFA position come July 1st. It’s time to shift gears to the defensemen. Now, there might be less defensemen to ponder over than there were forwards but it certainly doesn’t make for less controversy. The obvious two players that are causing much speculation and giving some people bouts of indigestion are the youngsters Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. And honestly, I have NO IDEA what is going to happen in regards to either one. At this point, your guess is as good as mine but nonetheless I’ve done a breakdown and prediction for each one anyway.

Kevin Klein (D) – RFA; Klein got pretty much no ice time all season and sometimes I found myself asking “who’s that guy out there in the number 8 jersey?” when he would dress for pre-skate. So yeah, basically we have an excess of D-men and Klein will surely be one of the first to go. I could be proven wrong though because people have said that Klein has the ability to play as a forward as well. However, I don’t see Poile clamoring to keep a possible forward on our roster when we have some bigger roles to fill offensively anyway.

My prediction: Signs with another team.

Ville Koistinen (D) – RFA; for a rookie year defenseman, Ville played pretty solid…when he was allowed to play. If Trotz hadn’t benched him for half the season, our power play might have looked a little better out there. Koistinen had definite chemistry when paired with Marek Zidlicky so it confounded me when he was consistently being scratched. I think he would be a good choice to keep around for his offensive-minded nature on the power plays but I’m not really sure about what will come of him.

My prediction: Maybe re-signs to a two-year deal?

Ryan Suter (D) – RFA; first of all, let me just say that I was shocked to discover that Ryan was playing on a two-way contract. I had absolutely no idea but anyway, that’s completely beside the point. Never was there another player all season who was on the receiving end of my sudden outbursts of frustration more so than Ryan. I think he played very inconsistently and maybe it was because of all the constant re-pairings due to our surplus of defense but man, this kid about gave me an ulcer with the way he played. The rumors have been swirling about what will happen with him since before trade deadline and it would take too long to try and sort out what truths were lying underneath all of them. I would think that David Poile is going to work to keep him around because he is a good defense player when things are clicking well. But rumors to the contrary, most specifically about his attitude in the locker room, have me doubting how much longer he’ll be around.

My prediction: If he decides that he’s not too big for his britches (so to speak), he’ll re-sign a five-year contract for at least $4 million/year. If he decides to go the divo route (as the rumors tend to lean towards), he’ll be picked up by another team in seconds; one who’s willing to pay out even bigger bucks.

Shea Weber (D) – RFA; yet another player I was shocked to discover playing on a two-way contract; and for bare minimum pay at that. However, unlike Mr. Suter, Shea was one defense player I could get behind all season. Well, all season minus that stretch at the very beginning where the poor boy went out with a knee injury. When he finally came back and hit his stride, I was quite impressed with his play and found myself noticing him on the ice a lot more than I ever had in seasons past. There’s a lot of talk surrounding how good Weber is and how much better he will be when he comes into his own and really matures as a player. So there’s no doubt in my mind (much like with Erat) that Poile will do everything within his power to keep the Dion Phaneuf of the South in the South.

My prediction: Re-signs to five-year deal for roughly $4 million/year.

Next week (the final installment): Goalies Galore; which could also be titled ‘Please figure out a way for us to keep Dan Ellis AND Pekka Rinne but maybe not so much Chris Mason. I know this is a rather large undertaking but I said ‘please’? Seriously…please?!’

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