Although we were not supposed to be competitive this year, keep in mind the structure of the league. There are 8 out of 15 teams that make the tournament every year. When you're in the bottom half of the standings it is like being rejected from the University of Phoenix admissions program. Hard to do, as the Stars proved each of the last two years. Anyway, enough venting, I do have constructive ideas that have not been brought up.
First: We obviously need more scoring, however I do not believe we will find this in FA. Mainly because it is a bear market, where talent will be over valued. While on the subject of FA the only player I believe to be worth the money is Ryan Suter (he will give our PP a true qb). Seriously though, the man is the American version of Sergei Zubov, except he is more physical. Back to offense, I see this as an easy upgrade, as with the new CBA approaching and several teams over the current expected cap, we will be able to pick up a talented Center or winger for pennies on the dollar (I am looking at Philly who is loaded with talent and will have to unload lots of salary before next year). Jamie Benn needs some help, can we please get him some?
Second: While I believe we earned respect this year for being competitive with our peskiness or grit, it did not get us where we need to be (i.e. the playoffs). I believe that in conjunction with scoring touch, we need to upgrade our size on our checking lines. We do have players like Chiasson that will be ready in a year or two, but who knows if their potential will be reached. I believe that the key leader in our grit, Steve Ott, is frankly not effective anymore. His antagonistic behavior used to get under the skin of multiple players a game, and that's just not happening anymore. Plus he is getting paid money that is in the neighborhood of captains and scorers. There are teams that will look for his grit again come the deadline, possibly Vancouver again (they now have Kassian, who I believe would fit the new prototype of a physically bruising forward that we desperately need). While our gritiness is admirable, we look like the Little Giants at times. We are simply dwarfed by many other teams. We need a physically punishing forward who will impose their will onto opposing teams (think Byfuglien during the Hawks cup run). Due to our high character team, I do not see a huge change in our team's core, but we do need several key players that are out there. Good thing we can go get them now.
Finally a side note that has been bothering me. I wish we hadn't traded Neal and Niskanen for Goligoski. Many people on this site dislike Neal and love Goose, but look at the stats, Neal is a PPG player, and Goligoski, a 30 pt player signed nearly equivalent contract extensions this season (roughly $5 Million/yr for Neal and $4.6 Million/yr for Goligoski). Goligoski wowed me last season but disappointed this year, I hope he steps it up but I doubt it. Say what you want about Neal and his dirty antics, he's a hell of a scorer and with his talents I bet we would have at least made the playoffs, if not won our division this year. Please post your thoughts and tell me how to insert breaks, I have been hitting return on the keyboard but it doesn't seem to take affect on the preview...