Magnafang asks: What is a reasonable expectation for when the next 50 win season will be?
Great question, especially for a pro-Jarmo guy like myself. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect this team to compete for 50 wins in its upcoming season. There are still glaring holes at center, especially on the top two lines. They’ll have a new coach, with new systems … and they’re hoping that the new additions on defense can help the goalies get back on track.
There are just too many question marks at the moment, and there will be some growing pains this year. BUT, with all that said, they should be much improved over last year, already. They have a lot more experience on the blue line, and if Mike Babcock is indeed their new coach, there will be accountability. I think it’s fair to expect this team to go from 59 points, to somewhere around 80 points.
As far as 50 wins, which guarantees a playoff spot? I’ll say 2024-25 is a reasonable expectation. By then, whoever we pick third overall should be at least competing for a job here. That player is going to be special, so if they aren’t able to make the roster, it’s because this team has improved dramatically down the middle. If they do make the team, this team will be dramatically improved down the middle. And really, I would argue that the center position is the only real shortcoming on this roster at the moment – assuming Elvis gets his game under control.
If not, if they are still scrapping and clawing and trying to play .500 hockey, I expect dramatic changes to the top of the organization after that season.
Travis Weaver asks: How about a way too early prediction at the opening lines?
For the point I made above, I expect Jarmo to be big game hunting for a center this summer. They need a legitimate top-six pivot, and won’t want to wait another 1-2 years for that player to develop. But, for the time being, I think it goes something like this:
Gaudreau – Jenner – Marchenko
Johnson – Roslovic – Laine
Texier – Sillinger – Chinakhov
Robinson – Kuraly – Olivier
Werenski – Boqvist
Provorov – Severson
Bean – Gudbranson
G: Merzlikins, Tarasov
Now, with all of this aside, do you notice the glaring omissions? David Jiricek, Emil Bemstrom, Andrew Peeke, Justin Danforth, and Hunter McKown are also going to be vying for spots. What about Trey Fix-Wolansky? For all of these reasons, and having a guy like Voronkov seemingly ready but with nowhere to play, I think big moves are coming here.
What if they draft Leo Carlsson or Adam Fantilli, and they win a spot? It’s a lot of guys competing for the bottom-six already … imagine Jenner and/or Roslovic fighting for those roles also. It’s a good problem to have, but, it is a problem. They’ll have to move at least one defenseman, maybe two, and probably at least one or two forwards just to break this logjam up.