Just under a month to go until the regular season begins!
Let’s take a look at some prospective line combinations.
There are two screaming issues with this lineup card at this point in time; those being goaltender and defence.
GOAL – The Land of Ifs
If Nikolai Khabibulin
- is able to show no long term effects from his back surgery this past season, and
- he can legally enter Canada after his run afoul of the law, and
- is in any kind of playing condition similar to pre-2009,
then you’ve got to give him the nod as your 1. If Khabibulin is named the number one, I’d like to see him put up about 52 games. Devan Dubnyk appears to be tabbed the odds-on favourite as the number 2 guy. Dubnyk finished last season in the mid-teens as far as GP, and I think 30 games is a fair amount of games to see if his SV% can hold up.
About three hundred different issues could come up with Khabibulin over the next few weeks, or months. It’s quite possible that Dubnyk, or Deslauriers could step up to claim the number one job if Khabibulin is out of commission for any reason at all. And don’t forget about Martin Gerber, signed for the league minimum to be a veteran in OKC. I’m sure he’d be more than willing to take the reins if given the opportunity on the big club.
DEFENCE – A definite uptick
Somewhat relieving are the initial looks of this year’s defence – Tambellini addressed the glaringly porous defence by bringing in UFA Kurtis Foster (8G-34A-42 PTS in 71G) from Tampa Bay, while turning Patrick O’Sullivan into Jim Vandermeer (4G-8A-12PTS in 60 G) through Phoenix. Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid are all expected to be stalwarts of this year’s Edmonton defence.
I’m eager to see more Ryan Whitney. I think I like what I see from him; and while he’s far from Lubomir Visnovsky, he’s an above average defenceman that has a mean streak.
Which leaves our good friend and confidante, Sheldon Souray. The tide appears to be turning so that Souray may actually open camp with Edmonton, work himself on the roster, and perhaps be trade bait between October and sometime in 2112. I peg the likelihood of something like this happening at around 50 or 60 per cent: we often ignore the fact that if Souray shows up and decides to play nice with the organisation and can stay healthy, dare I say, there might be a future for him this year in Edmonton.
Then again, perhaps no.