There is a current post up by Yankee Canuck regarding what Samuelsson is going to do next season, which is a reasonable question: any time someone jumps in their stats, it's fair to ask not only where the increased numbers came from, but if they will be sticking around. It got me thinking about the state of Vancouver's offence over all, and how likely it is that the guns we carried last season will still be firing this time around.
The biggest question mark lies with the least questionable forwards, Henrik and Daniel. They both leaped up in scoring after staying around 75-80 points the previous four seasons. Is the increase authentic, or will they drop back down to the point-a-game level? I'd be delighted if they did stay in the 120 range, but more likely is slipping back to around 90. Yes, as low as that - how will we ever live with ourselves? (/snark) They have said that they want to kill penalties this year, which is good of them. I'm sure they could, but I'd rather they stay at the other end of the ice, thanks.
I think it's safe to pencil in 25 goals for each of our surprising guys (Burr and Sam) and for Raymond as well, depending on how well Burr's shoulder is recovered by season's start and whether MayRay, er, stays. We had six forwards hit that last year, and should again this year. Hansen might hit 20 in a full season, but more likely 15; Malhotra could get 15, but more likely 10. But anything else is going to be a happy accident.
It'll be interesting to see who gets all the PP time Wellwood, Bernier and Demitra had last year and if the percentage there is going to go up or down. I rather liked using Sam with the twins on PP and with Burr with them at even strength: I thought it was a good mix, and Burrows is a real danger short handed and works very well with Kesler, so save him for that.
Samuelsson's percentage is going to go down, but not by all that much! Every one of those 200+ shots is forcing a save to be made (or not). He seems to have found a home in front of the opposing net, and that's a nice, high-percentage place to be. I get the impression that Oystershuck might get tried there on the PP, too, much like Bernier was. Hopefully, there will be greater success, but there's no logical reason to think so, given his career numbers. Still, if it works we're golden.
More goals should be coming from the defence this year, too: Edler's rather pathetic 3% shooting has nowhere to go but up closer to his average which is more than twice that, and while I don't think either of the new arrivals is as good offensively as Bieksa, at least they'll be here for a full season. As for the folks who led the defence in shooting percentage, our top five were:
Alberts, Baumgartner, Mitchell, Schneider, and the 100% man himself, Brad Lukowich.
Hm. But more than that, the folks who are still around love sending the puck in, except for OBie and Andy; and I'm quite happy to leave it that way, thanks. Heck, even Baumgartner lifts them in at a one-per-game clip!
The only real change is going to come from our third and fourth lines, and what they end up looking like. If Hodgson or Schroeder come up, what will they produce in the time they're given? Schroeder put up great numbers in his short stint in Manitoba, and many people think Hodgson could easily make the transition to the NHL this year, but success at one level doesn't always translate to success at the next. Could either of them make an additional switch to wing where there's going to be more room in the lineup and less pressure to produce on the ice?
And what does the team want the third line to look like? Tambellini's a fast veteran, but small. Oreskovich is big and young, but not very productive. Perrault has some scoring touch, but has difficulty keeping the puck in traffic. Add them to the folks that are already here, and you could end up with three fourth lines and no third. Who's going to be with Malhotra, and which side of centre are they going to focus on?
Of course, those players might not even be here yet: this is all before Raymond's hearing, and the results from that are going to determine the next round of moves by Gillis - and there are more coming. If the Raymond decision is too high, does he get moved, or are others moved to make room for him?
It's all speculation and rosterbation until then. But it helps time fly until we get to the good stuff once again.