I'm not even going to go into the whole Bertuzzi mess. Summary: Hate the guy; indifferent to the player; like the contract. Moving on...
While the team is not finalized, we've got a good idea what it will look like. We're currently over the cap a bit, so someone's gotta get traded or end up being the wealthiest bastard playing for the Quad City Flames. I'm quietly hoping Warrener and Primeau both disappear from the lineup somehow. Nilson? That guy gets no respect. His contract's light and he's not a bad 4th line player. Plus the ladies love him.
Looking at next year's roster, as of today, I can't help but think this team hasn't gotten worse, or better. Just different. We're a grittier team now, but perhaps a slower one. I'm not even going to pretend to know if that's good or bad, it seems like when the Ducks won the cup every team needed to be gritty...and now every team needs to be skilled thanks to Detroit. I think a good team will win the cup, regardless of the specific strategy behind how it's built. Sometimes it is just that simple.
As far as I'm concerned, this is Sutter's last year to see if he can get the Flames past the first round. Sutter earned a few years of good will with the '04 performance, but it's been all downhill since then. Iginla's years are dwindling and I'd hate to see them wasted on missing the playoffs or first round exists except for that one year... Unless we make it past the first round, I'd hope for a GM change at the end of the season. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let's think positive. We've got some fresh lines to concoct, so how should they be used? I've got all sorts of forward combinations in my head, but they basically boil down to the following possibilities, in order of my desirability:
Bourque - Langkow - Boyd
Glencross- Lombardi - Moss
Nystrom - Conroy - Prust
Cammalleri - Langkow - Iginla
Bertuzzi - Lombardi - Boyd
Bourque - Conroy - Moss
Nystrom - Prust - Glencross
Bertuzzi - Cammalleri - Iginla
Bourque - Langkow - Lombo
Boyd - Conroy - Glencross
Nystrom - Prust - Moss
The biggest problem is to figure out if Cammalleri and Bertuzzi are going to be top line guys -- or rather, if one or both are. The next problem, as I see it, is how to give Lombardi, Boyd, and Moss the proper opportunity with quality linemates to see if they can get the scoring going. I fear they languish too much in the grinding/energy line role and that's why they don't get the points to warrant a promotion.
Not even sure if it's worth going through the defensive pairings. Not yet, anyway.