Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Ice Thoughts

You can tell the level of optimism about a fan base by the subject lines in the emails.

A few weeks ago, the subject lines said: “Richards return date?”, “Should we be resting Turco”, and “How to fix our power play”.

Now, the emails subject lines have switched to: “Stars draft position”, “Resigning Zubov and Lehtinen”, and “Is Jamie Benn ready?”

It is all a true sign that we are coping with what appears to be a playoff-less season as the Stars now need to run the table or turn in their equipment in 8 games.

But, as I have said, that might be a short term disappointment, but in the long-term, I am still pleased with the position the Stars are in.

So quickly, let us visit about the 3 relevant story lines of the day:

1) Stars Draft Position: With the 22nd best record in the NHL (On Thursday, they were 24th before the 1 point was gained) they currently sit at the #9 position in the draft. This is a pretty solid draft, and this would also represent the highest pick the Stars have had in a long, long time. As I have written plenty of times this season, for all the money we spend on scouting, most of the truly special players in the NHL were Top 10 picks on draft day. Yes, you can still get “pretty good” and “really good” elsewhere, but a large percentage of the top players in the league were all at the top of the draft. Regardless, all lottery scenarios aside, consider me a member of the Jordan Schroeder admiration society . And a pick in the Top 10 should get the American to the Stars. Of course, whether the Stars like him as much as I do remains to be seen. Here is a pretty cool site for following the daily moves by teams and prospects heading into the draft

Pretty Weird, huh? We are actually looking at the draft board in late March. I don’t like it either, but sometimes you have to take your medicine and move along.

2) Resigning the Vets: This has provided some interesting feedback from the readers. It appears some of you want to cut ties with 26, 56, and 55 and turn the page. I personally wonder about the caliber of play that Sydor has been able to offer in the last few weeks, and wonder if he might be best served as an assistant coach. I realize his knowledge is very valuable, I am just not sure the miles haven’t caught up with him some. Time waits for no man. As for Lehtinen, I still think there is a spot for a Right Winger on this team, so if he is healthy and will take a discount of a pretty significant magnitude ($1.5?), then I want him back. For Zubov, it comes down to his hip. They must be 100% confident that they don’t get fooled by anyone’s optimism of a full recovery until it has happened. They put way too much stock in Zubov being fine this year and it haunted them. If he checks out physically, I would also want him back ($2 million?) but only if I am sure that he is able to withstand a season of NHL hockey.

3) Is Jamie Benn ready? I don’t know. He turns 20 in July, so heading into training camp, he will be the right age. But at Left Wing, is there a spot? Morrow, Neal, and Ott have that side locked down pretty well. Also, is the jump from the WHL to the NHL a good idea if you don’t desperately need him, or should you allow him the 1 year in the AHL in Austin to continue to develop by playing against grown men? I tend to like the Austin idea, but he appears to have certainly outgrown his level of competition at Kelowna. They just got done sweeping Kamloops (sorry, Razor) in a first round playoff series where Benn had 10 points (3 Goals/7 Assists) in 4 games and was a +5. This follows a season where he scored 46/36 for 82 points in 56 games and was a +27. And, he played for the Canadian Junior team during the holidays at a high level. He has the goods. The Stars just need to figure him into their puzzle.

And by the way, just like Morrow, Neal, and Ott, it appears he knows what to do when he drops his gloves…

Jamie Benn beats up Drayson Bowman

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