Looking forward to next season, what do we do with the onslaught of new talent on the Hamilton Bulldogs? We have Brendan Gallagher, Patrick Holland and Michaël Bournival from junior, and maybe Steve Quailer and Danny Kristo from college at forward. On defence, we have Greg Patery coming in from Michigan, and Jared Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis and maybe Darren Dietz from the CHL. Do we leave these kids in the AHL next season, come hell or high water, or do we draw upon them as needed, which we are certain to?
On the one hand, if some of these guys are mature mentally, and will get significant minutes, and are insulated against the pressure by a tacit understanding that next season is a rebuilding season instead of a ‘make the playoffs’ season, then they might as well learn the ropes in Montréal no?
On the other hand, it would be great to have these guys simmer for at least a full season and have them learn how to win, as you put it, on their own. It could be like when the Sherbrooke Canadiens won the Calder Cup and sent a wave of good players to Montréal the next season.
Another scenario I think about is where do we get the defensive defenceman we’re missing next season. Free agency tends to be pricey. Everyone here talks about Bryan Allen, but that guy is going to have options, he’ll probably get 10-15 offers. Every team needs a big steady defensive defenceman, we’re not the only ones. Plus, I remember this kid from his Vancouver days, and he wasn’t a showstopper, even when the standard is Craig Ludwig or Hal Gill.
So do we instead get a cheap body to plug a hole and by implication write off next season? Do we try out Mark Mitera, Craig Pateryn or Morgan Ellis in that role in training camp and take the guy who’s best suited, at the cost of a few losses? Do we rotate these guys in and out, shuffling them in from Hamilton to give them a taste/reward?
These issues to me are way more pressing than whether Carey let in a soft goal or whether René Bourque is lazy. At least these guys are there, they’re accounted for. It’s the holes in the roster that worry me.