Pretty much nailed it with Ottawa. Our biggest problem is we have a lot of promising D prospects, and no actual NHL defensemen. After Chabot-Zub, our only good defensemen are Brannstrom (hurt or in the doghouse) and Holden (who's like a 4/5 guy). Everyone else sucks, and 2 of that "everyone else" group are in the top 4 by default. Chabot's playing decently well but he'd be much better as a 22-24 minute defenseman. This year he's logging over 27 minutes ATOI, which is over 30 seconds more than anyone else in the entire league. It's absurd how much he's relied upon, and he can't even start to develop at getting better defensively (well within his capabilities imo) when he's overworked to exhaustion by playing every second shift. So yeah, defense is our big hole. Gustavsson has shown flashes of promise, if we had a solid D corps I think he'd be fine. We need to get someone to tandem with him next summer if Murray continues to suck. But on D, I wouldn't be opposed to trading for a top 4 D right now if they had some term. We could really use someone stable back there. Relying on two guys (mostly one guy) is super unsustainable. On the bright side, Sanderson should be here by the end of this season, Thomson has looked decent so far in the emergency stint and should challenge for a spot in camp next year, and JBD is developing fine in the AHL (might take an extra year for him though, either middle of next season or camp in 23-24, Thomson looks to have passed him at this point, but defensive specialists do tend to develop more slowly so it's not really worrying). But even when they crack the team, they'll still be rookies. And the veterans Dorion has chosen to surround them with suck. A lot. Del Zotto, Zaitsev, and J. Brown suck and I would love nothing more than to never see them play again. Mete is the definition of meh. Dorion even said in the summer (after saying the rebuild was over, which was dumb) that his goal was to bring in a top 6 forward and a top 4 defenseman, or something along those lines. He then signed Tyler Ennis and Michael Del Zotto, which should honestly tell you all you need to know about how this season was going to go from the start. Huge failure there. I'd like to see him be bold and pursue a guy like Boeser or Monahan. Or at least a guy like Giroux in free agency. And then bring in SOMEONE on the back end that can play defense, literally anyone, although I don't trust Dorion to do that because the guys he signs or trades for (at least in the last couple years), and the guys DJ plays, are terrible: Gudbranson (fine for Calgary, atrocious for Ottawa because he had to play on the top pair), Mete (meh af), Holden (just ok), Zaitsev (was to get C. Brown, but he doesn't have to be played so much because he sucks), J. Brown (terrible), MDZ (terrible), Reilly (terrible at first, actually turned it around by the end so he had decent trade value though), Coburn (terrible). His track record recently up front isn't much better: Watson (4th liner), Ennis (4th liner), Sanford (4th liner), Gambrell (4th liner), Gaudette (bust? Scored for us but also gave up 2 goals, probably should be a 4th liner, I guess we'll see), Stepan (terrible), Anisimov (terrible), Paquette (terrible), Galchenyuk (terrible), Haley (terrible), and lots of other guys are playing too high in the lineup due to lack of high-end talent (specifically guys like Ennis, Nick Paul, and Tierney). In terms of this TDL, every pending UFA should be gone: Tierney, Sanford, Ennis, J. Brown (if anyone will give up anything for him), Holden, and Forsberg. MDZ should be gone if anyone will give up a pick for him. I really don't care what happens to Mete, Gambrell, or Bishop. Brannstrom+White should probably be packaged with some picks/prospects to try and bring in someone impactful, like a Boeser or Konecny if Philly wants a shakeup (I've seen him dealt frequently for some reason). Spend at least slightly above the cap to get a roster with guys that are at least close to their correct spot in the lineup. Draft Wright, Savoie, or Kemell. Bring in a D somewhere (trade for a guy with a couple years, or sign some actual GOOD veterans to short term deals, like we did with MDZ except choose someone who can play hockey this time). Once the D core is completely overhauled, and we add 2 or 3 deserving players to our top 9 (high pick, trade, UFA would be nice) we might actually get somewhere.
As for Calgary, I think they're just rolling. They look really solid, and have bought into Sutter's system. The only real concern is scoring from the 3rd line if/when our top 6 offense dries up. I don't want to lose Dube, because he's on such a nice deal, but he should be producing more, Monahan has just kinda been there and could probably use a change of scenery at this point, and while Pitlick has been fine defensively/in general, he has 0 goals and 2 points in 19 games, we need more from our 3RW. If San Jose slips a little I'd be very interested in bringing in Hertl or Labanc. Boeser would be nice, but Vancouver would probably charge too much and I'm not sure we can afford his next deal. Kessel would be a good pure rental type. Gurianov from Dallas would be great if they fall out of the race and decide to enter a rebuild (which they probably should tbh). That's the kind of guy we can use (middle six C or RW capable of scoring 20 goals), otherwise we're pretty much gonna go with what we've got, everyone else is more or less fine (top line is good, 2nd line is fine although Backlund could maybe get bumped down and it wouldn't be a huge deal if we snag a better 2C, 4th line is fine too, Lucic-Richardson-Lewis is a solid checking line and they're actually providing some secondary scoring, Hanifin-Andersson is good, Kylinton-Tanev is good, and Gudbranson has been okay at 3RD, Zadorov has been mediocre but he's big..? Hopefully Valimaki just gets back in there and then we're fine, both goalies have been stellar).
well Kypreos mentioned it today too; Dorion has really fumbled Ottawa this year (INCLUDING THAT GOD FORSAKEN DRAFT, "shocker"; Boucher excluded from team USA). If you're a free agent he pointed out (paraphrasing his quote) "why would I come to Ottawa, yeah they're a promising team but look what just happened with Murrary. yeah he played poorly but so did the team. hes waived in the most confrontational way possible and barely communicated with (hes still on a damn deal with term). So yeah he played bad but they basically shot him out of a cannon and Dorion continues to hide. yeah the nucks are a mess but Benning at least isnt hiding.". So why would I; a UFA go there after watching this dumpster fire continue to grow; and while I think DJ Smith does a lot right. Hes doing a hell of alot wrong too. And so much of the mistakes Ottawa makes EVERY SINGLE GAME are not just fixable mistakes, but frustrating simple mistakes that are coachable. then they make such poor draft selections this past year that will hurt the future of the team. brannstrom has been given a literal "1 inch" leash.
its a promising team but as a UFA I dont get excited for Ottawa currently. the fans have so much to excited about but the management continues to be a big worry (including DJ in management this year because he needs to show up and step up).
Cal should really pursue Kessel; I think that would be a great fit.
Thats just a deep team. Maybe even trade Monahan for a capable 3C plus assets or assets for another upgrade (ex; trade for Strome, hes your new 3C and flip Sean etc etc just a random example nothing actual). Obviously money needs to be worked out but you get the gist.