There are times when it's really hard to come up with things to write here. There are any number of small topics, but nothing that really deserves its own complete post. Summer is one long string of this. I have a couple of things I'm interested enough to write, but nothing that I really have 1000 words worth of thoughts about.
So, in the interest of (hopefully) starting discussion on these pages, I figured, I'd riff on Elliotte Friedman's "30 Thoughts" column, now done for the offseason, and just cover a bunch of topics that have come up recently. Though, I talk more than he does. And I have fewer thoughts. So, anyway, welcome to my mind.
1. The Nashville Predators' silence on the Shea Weber offer sheet is deafening. I don't understand how a franchise that was willing to spend $98 million over 13 years each for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise (and then pay Weber on top of that) is now balking at $110 million over 14 years. This is not a sign of the "commitment" the fans and players have been promised. As I've been saying on Twitter: #JustPayShea. You ought to already have the financing in place unless you were jerking everyone around about doing it for Suter, too.
Right now, neither David Poile nor the Nashville ownership group is looking too good. Poile's response to the Suter deal seemed both petty and naive. And now he looks like he couldn't convince a cat to meow. The more I hear from Nashville beat reporters (Jim Diamond's twitter feed, in particular) the more I get the feeling that the ownership is behind this delay. Or, is it possible, as Sam Page asked last week, that Shea Weber wants to stay in Nashville more than the ownership wants him? That's crazy, if it's true.
Without Weber, the Predators have basically three veterans to lead their youngsters--Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, and David Legwand. Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad, although good veteran players, have been with the team only a few months, and it's unclear how they'll pan out, leadership-wise, right now. Combine that with the rebuilding implied by taking four first-round draft picks in lieu of an All-Star defenseman/team captain, and you see how fans are concerned that Nashville is turning into the Edmonton Oilers.
2. With the acquisition of Anders Lindback and the re-signing of Riku Helenius, the Lightning have created a new question in goal: Whither Jaroslav Janus? Most of you know I'm a huge fan of this kid, who I feel has a lot of untapped potential to develop. But he's an RFA without a contract right now. The team qualified him, so they do want to keep him in some capacity, but they've also made statements that hint that he'll be the odd man out in Syracuse next season.
It's possible that he could be loaned to a European club, but I don't know the ins and outs of that. If he were, and were then called up, I believe he'd be subject to re-entry waivers, which is a risk, albeit a small one. Another possibility is the ECHL, but Janus is far too good for that league right now. The only thing he'd be getting there would be playing time, which isn't to be sneezed at. However, I'm reminded of the way that young Braden Holtby, stuck with the Hershey Bears, put up only mediocre numbers in the regular season (2.61 and .906) before proving his readiness in the NHL playoffs. It appears mostly that he was bored in the AHL.
I hate to see a young talent like Janus wasted due to the lack of the appropriate development path, and I'm sure the Lightning hate to see all their dollars and man hours invested in him wasted as well. How the team deals with this dilemma will be very instructive. If they can find an avenue for him to develop into the goaltender so many think he can be, that will say volumes about their ability to develop prospects into NHL goalies. So far, this has never, in the twenty-year history of the franchise, happened. That's a whole lot of prospects who busted. It needs to be turned around for the good of the club.
3. Speaking of goalies, Anders Lindback is getting heaps of praise around the hockey world. It says something to me that when Teddy Purcell ran into Shea Weber this summer, Weber insisted that Lindback is not a backup goalie, but a starter. And he wasn't the only Predator to say so. In addition, Mitch Korn, the Nashville goalie coach who developed Tomas Vokoun and Pekka Rinne and turned Dan Ellis and Chris Mason into starting goalies (albeit temporarily), believes that Lindy will adjust well, given time. This is very reassuring.
4. I'm not sure what to make of the Rick Nash trade. As good as Nash can be, he's on the down side of his career. It's a huge investment for a team already invested in Brad Richards. Of course, this trade cleared cap space for the Rangers. As for the Blue Jackets--well, they had to cut Nash loose, undoubtedly, and their performance in the next few years will depend on chemistry as much as anything. They've had some pieces for a while now, but they've been unable to transform into a complete team. It seems like the Dubinskys are happy enough to go to Columbus, and that makes this a step up from the Jeff Carter trade.
5. I'm not even going to touch the 2012 NHL CBA negotiations, except to say (a) take every statement by anyone involved from either side with a grain of salt, and (b) our fearless leader John Fontana summed up exactly what I've been thinking far better than I could ever do it.
6. A great article about Dwayne Roloson's goalie camp, held every year in Ontario came to my attention recently. I am reminded of how much I'm going to miss him next season. I hope for the best for him, and I hope he gets a chance to go out with a better showing than last season, whatever that problem was. Yet, this is the best and most telling quote from this article:
"Every goalie has their own style — some guys like the butterfly, some people like to stay up, some people like to do a whole bunch of different things. That’s up to us to teach them, not change their style, teach their style," [Roloson] said.
7. How excited are you for the Lightning's 20th Anniversary celebration? If you aren't yet, consider that Vinny Lecavalier' has played 998 regular season games, all with the Lightning. I find it amazingly cool that his 1000th game will be the home opener on Oct 16 (you know, given that they start the season on time) in the beginning of the team's anniversary year. I'm really psyched about that. Marty St. Louis is sitting at 931, so he'll hit 1000 late in the season if it's a full season. From where I sit, there could be no better way to celebrate the Tampa Bay Lightning than to be able to acknowledge these two men and what they've meant to the club.