Why would any team trade their best player for Alexandre Daigle? Jacques Demers sure answered that question when he said he was capable of being the first-line winger in his first game. He has the potential to be a highly touted superstar in this league? Sure fooled anyone who thought he’d excel in Philly. Is this a joke, or does Jacques have something up his sleeve for Alex? It is the third time this year the new GM has dealt with the Flyers, picking up Chris Gratton again, Mike Sillinger, and Petr Svoboda. He must know what he’s doing, because look what he did with players such as Gerard Gallant and Bernie Federko? They don’t sound like big names do they? Bernie is on his way to the hall of fame. Gerard Gallant played good hockey in his final years in the league, mixing grit with pure goal scoring, all because of Jacques Demers.
FIRST ROUND CORNUCOPIA
There are now seven first-round picks on the team: Daigle, Chris Gratton, Wendel Clark, Jason Bonsignore, Paul Mara, Martin Larocque and Vincent Lecavalier. Out of the crop, only one has actually excelled into a complete player, while two others showed flashes of brilliance. Can you guess who they are? They brought back Chris Gratton in the infamous trade-back with Bob Clarke and the Flyers. The question now is, who are the Bolts going to build around? Roman Hamrlik looked like a great idea, but he got stolen by Glen Sather last year. Wendel Clark is bright, but he’s already on the trading block.
In comes Bill Ranford. Out goes Daren Puppa with injuries. What’s in the cards for Billy now that he’s the starter? The former Conn-Smythe winner can’t seem to buy a win in Tampa. His acquisition was supposed to bring a confident backstop behind the “franchise goaltender” Darren Puppa. But now with Puppa down he has the team on his shoulders. Corey Schwab? He’s the goalie of the future along with Zac Bierk. Wow there’s a dominant force in a few years. The serious need for a consistent goalie has finally become an issue. Felix Potvin was in the cards, and it looked like when Selivanov changed his jersey number from 29 to 61, but that turned out to be a bust. The Lightning haven’t been with a good goalie at all, and in order for them to get some much needed wins, they have to make a deal to at least pick up someone with a proven track record.
SCORING (or lack of)
The point producers Roman Hamrlik, Daymond Langkow, Mikael Renberg, are gone. Andrei Nazarov, Brian Bradley, John Cullen, are gone. Last year’s sniper Paul Yserbart. Benoit Hogue and Michael Nylander are nowhere to be found. Darcy Tucker cooled off after a blazing first quarter which saw him score 23 points. Since then he’s scored two points! Chris Gratton was a sniper the year Tampa had the best powerplay in the league. Without Brian Bradley, Alexander Selivanov and John Cullen, what’s left to do? He got traded for Mikael Renberg and made a truckload of cash, then he got traded back. There seems to be little hope in Gratton coming off the money train to score some much needed goals. Alexandre Daigle promises to be a big-time scorer according to coach Demers. He sure does have the potential, as he scored 51 points in his rookie year. Since then he’s found holes in Philly’s third and fourth lines this past year. It’s clear he wants the puck, and he knows how to score when given the chance. Playing on the first-line should give him the opportunity to be a top-notch scorer in the near future. Wendel Clark was given a second chance in what looked to be the end of a career in Toronto. For Phil Esposito’s troubles he gets a power forward with 20 goals to his credit. The all-star game called his name, his second time since his rookie year. For his hard work, however, he’s on the trading block because the Bolts want some future players to build around.
It can’t be stressed enough not to draft another forward. There are too many first rounders already, none of whom are getting any opportunity to play their best hockey. In the last two years Phil Esposito has not drafted a goalie, and now his ignorance has caught up to him because he no longer has a job. The Bolts will most likely end up picking first again, and drafting Patrik Stefan or Pavel Brendl will not be the answer to turn around a struggling franchise. Brian Finley is touted to be a top-notch goalie of the future for any team. A great idea would be to trade down to the middle of the pack and grab another draft pick or a good defenseman for the first-overall pick. With defensemen such as Boris Mironov on the block and the Leafs looking to trade a defensman, there is a bright light shining in the eyes of the Lightning saying “grab some D!!!” Sacrificing another first overall selection to pick up a defenseman or a good goalie is smart right now in order to bring some veterans and leadership. The last time they experienced with veterans, they had the best powerplay and made the playoffs.