The Penguins have intentionally narrowed thier search for player personnel in an effort to solve two glaring dilemmas. One, to establish some immediate support for Mario and what may prove to be his final attempt at a Stanley Cup. Two, to lay the groundwork for the not-too-distant future as the Pens anticipate a new home.
The first issue is to give the club offensive and defensive options. Last season, when they needed to fill holes at the blueline due to injuries, they turned to Dollas and Kucera. Complete busts. When they needed role players to step in and score they pinned thier hopes on Corbet, Beranek, Primeau, and Laukkanen. No red lights were lit. The team got bigger and nastier with additions like Oliwa and Stevens. But they didn’t get faster and certainly not consistent. When one line opened it up, the others disappeared. Not enough players stepped up to change the outcome of the playoffs. Most critics cited depth. Why didn’t Hilinka utilze his other lines often? He didn’t trust that they would or could contribute, and often he was correct in his assumptions. Take Morozov. Please. Anyone.
Will Hrdina ever shoot enough to hit twenty goals, like so many people claim he has the ability to do? And anyone can tell you, when Slegr left so did what little blueline offense they had. Not that even that was much. Evidently the team needs to create offense on more levels. They need to bring speed and scoring to complement and somehow replace what was lost. They need wings that go into the corners and come out with the puck, that don’t shy away from the crease Read more»
MEANWHILE, DOWN AT THE FARM
The Forgotten Man
Remember this guy? Picked in the 6th round by the Leafs in 1992, he made his debut on ‘The Rock’ last year and proceeded to net himself 50 points in 64 games including 40 assists. It’s kind of hard to take someone like Mikael Hakansson seriously amidst all of the free agent signings, trades, and prospects vying to get some time with the big club. However, the fact of the matter is, the Swede could yet be a pivotal player on Toronto’s side this year. As most know, Jonas Hoglund is on his way out of the organization and when that happens a spot will be open on the roster for a responsible winger who can bring something to the offensive party. Many assume that winger will be Jeff Farkas, but the feeling here is that Farkas needs to rip it up in St. John’s once more before he is ready for the big show. Enter Mikael Hakansson. The 27 year old winger signed with the Leafs expecting to be able to crack the starting line-up at some point last season. But as fate would have it, the decision to come overseas was made late, the forward was out of condition and ended up in the AHL where injuries made his first year in North America somewhat of a wash. This campaign though is a different story. When healthy, Hakansson showed good tenacity and two way play and as his statistics attest more than a little flair for the passing game. If Hoglund does go before Farkas is ready, a smart bettor might put a farthing or two on this ex-Djurgartens product giving Travis Green, Shayne Corson, and Gary Valk a run f Read more»