This offseason should be a very interesting one. Here are my thoughts on who stays/goes and where Murray will try to upgrade the roster. As of right now, I'm gonna assume Alfie retires and therefore I won't include him in my breakdown. If he comes back, it's an obvious welcome and huge boost. But I wouldn't count on it. Our organization's depth at forward and goaltending at the Professional and Prospect level is in tip top shape. The verdict is still out on our defence depth, which I believe needs a offseason upgrade. That should be Murray's focus heading into the draft, free agency and possible trades.
GOALTENDING - Anderson, Bishop and Lehner. It's set in stone and no need to tinker.
OFFENCE - 8 one-ways under contract: Spezza, Michalek, Turris, Greening, Neil, Smith, Condra and Butler.
DEFENCE - 3 one-ways under contract: Phillips, Gonchar and Cowen.
Thus, barring no trades Murray will be looking to add/sign around 6 forwards and 4 defence for the upcoming season. This includes RFA's and UFA's:
KARLSSON - Re-signed obviously.
O'BRIEN - Impressed me this season as a 4th line centre and great on the PK. Re-signed for sure.
FOLIGNO - To me Foligno will be an interesting situation. He had a career year this past season, but still Murray challenged him to be better next season. Depending on what his contract demands are, he could be a good fit or he could be some good trade bait. Possibly to land another quality defenceman. In all likelihoood, he will be an Ottawa Senator next season though.
CARKNER - May want to test open market, but I'd like him to stay. A tough d-man is important and Carkner can actually play the game. Plus, he seems like he's a positive presence in the dressing room.
KONOPKA - Keep him. A cheap valuable depth guy.
DAUGAVINS - Don't mind the guy at all. But he's not gonna make or break us. An affordable option for a depth guy.
KLINKHAMMER - In my mind not a one-way option. Sign him to a two-way.
REGIN - Band-aid. Trade away for anything.
WINCHESTER - Open Market
AULD - Open Market
DRAFT - This draft reminds me of the Stamkos draft where we landed Karlsson. It has a clear-cut #1 overall pick from the Sarnia Sting, and then after that pick, it's loaded with a tonne of defenceman. Picking 15th overall is a blessing, and Murray is gonna have some amazing players to choose from, especially defece: Dumba, Reilly, Reinhart, Murray, Finn, Ceci, Lindholm, Trouba, Pouliot and Bystrom.
FREE AGENCY - Can you say Ryan Suter????? I know he will be one of the most prized UFA's this offseason, but can you imagine a pairing of him and Karlsson? Wow! A good solid mid to late twenties defenceman is important to help bridge the gap between our youth and veterans. If he's not available, there are others (Wideman, Carle, Stuart, Oduya) but not as high quality of a Ryan Suter. If we can't get Suter, I'd try and trade for a d-man instead of mediocre free agents.
STONE - In lineup opening day on a line with Spezza. This kid is the real deal in my opinion. Probably the best player in WHL for past two seasons, and Canada's best at Juniors. He's a point producing machine. I say give him a chance. What an amazing 6th round pick.
SILFVERBERG - Also in the lineup on opening day. I also think this kid is NHL ready and will develop into an awesome 2-way, intelligent and skilled player for us.
ZIBANEJAD - Not ready just yet imo. Sent back to Sweden/Bingo.
BOROWIECKI - Bingo's best defenceman all year this past season will make jump to big club next season.
So basically, my projected lineup will look something like this. Provided, Alfie retires and Suter does end up signing with us.
1st line - Michalek, Spezza, Stone
2nd line - Foligno, Turris, Silfverberg
3rd line - Greening, Smith, Neil
4th line - Daugavins, O'Brien, Condra
extras - Konopka, Butler
1st Pair - Suter, Karlsson
2nd Pair - Cowen, Gonchar
3rd Pair - Phillips, Borowiecki
extra - Carkner
Starter - Anderson
Back-up - Bishop
3rd string - Lehner