Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Information Overload

As the calendar is securely fastened, showing us the month of September, the hockey news world is gearing up into action, as we get some Sens previews, and even more talk about Meszaros and the Lightning. today posted their League-wide season previews today, among which you can find several Ottawa Senators related articles.

First off, there's the full Sens preview. As has been the case since Christmas, there's plenty of talk about the 'meltdown' we experienced this past season, but there's plenty of hope remaining in this preview, not to mention the joyous news that apparently Meszaros hasn't actually left our blueline.

Next up, a look at our second-round selection at this year's draft, defenseman Patrick Wiercioch, and his inspirational story of hard work and determination. Definitely one of those feel-good players you like seeing on your team, and whose successes are always a little sweeter. He'll need to bulk up his 6'2 frame significantly from the 178lbs they list him at, and continue to work on his skating, but here's a kid I still know little about, and yet I'm already looking forward to seeing his progression, hopefully into the mould of an offensive defenseman who's not afraid to throw his weight around.

The preview is at its most pessimistic in the By the Numbers section, where knowledgeable John Kreiser dissects all the ways our team let us down last season, and how every shining light was counterbalanced by a shadow cast at least as large.

You'll also find a mention of some Senators in the East Elite Scorers breakdown. Heatley makes the top ten, and while he endures some criticism for his skating, there's little doubt he will fail to live up to the work ethic warranted by his sparkling new contract. I for one don't fail to remember how successful he was at the Worlds on a line without (gasp!) Jason Spezza, which gives me hope that Hartsburg might take road Paddock could only shudder while looking at, and splits up the big three, with any luck splitting up Spezza and Heatley in the process, as that pairing always negates the third linemate, with the two of them constantly trying to be the yin to the other's yang. Also mentioned in the top ten scorers of the east is Alfie, and it's no surprise that his hard work has been able to silence the naysayers and critics over the years.

Ok, I'll try to resist the temptation of continuing the propagation of these stories, but the media can't seem to get enough out of the Meszaros saga. THN's Sam McCaig comments on the sad state of Tampa's blueline, where Meszaros' 246 NHL games ranks tops on the team. He correctly points out the promise of the Bolt defense, especially with moving the puck, but he is even more spot on in reminding us that all of these boys need more time to develop. Meszaros does have offensive flair, but can you see him playing 25 minutes a night in all situations (even the dreaded PK, where Schubie replaced him last season)? Does it make sense that a 28 year old who hasn't cracked the century mark of NHL games played (Hutchinson) will likely fit into the top 6? Everyone was reminded of how badly Toronto has botched promising blueliners when no commentator could resist the subject as they traded up to select Luke Schenn this season, but how long before the overeager and presumptuous Lightning face the same criticism? Considering the market, it's probably a ways off.

One last interesting note on that story is McCaig's mention of the 18 highly qualified NHL forwards the Lightning possess, suggesting that they might be traded for some defensive help this season. Considering the behaviour of Tampa's management, threatening to go after Malone so his rights would be traded to them, threatening to give a bloated offer sheet to Mez so that Ottawa forked him over, and considering that while no team can scoff at guys like Roberts and Recchi, no team absolutely needs them, I wouldn't be at all surprised (rather completely happy) if GMs held fast against Tampa this season, and forced management to make deals as lopsided as the Meszaros trade to get them out of this mess. Tampa Bay management, congrats, you've officially made it onto my list. Don't be proud.

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