I see the boys at Eyes on the Prize being eminently strategic and reasonable when evaluating our defence corps, playing the hand they're dealt, but I won't be that guy. I'm going to lapse back into shoulda-woulda-coulda territory, 'cause I enjoy a good wallow.
1) Our big problem is we don't have enough good defencemen. It's a pretty obvious observation, but I'm afraid we can't see the forest from the trees, and I have to point out that the Emperor has no clothes. We're taking for granted that Josh Gorges is a #1-2 defenceman, because he played great last season, relatively, was one of our two best D, and also because of his ballyhooed grit and determination and leadership, but I'm afraid we're acting like Leafs fans here, and hyping a mediocre player who got star billing due to circumstance. Josh should be a #4 defenceman who sees a lot of PK duty and is a great complement to a defence squad, not THE guy you rely on. But we'll have to rely on him for another season at least.
Of course, wouldn't be in this boat if we hadn't traded away Ryan McDonaugh, we could slot him in on our top pair next season and everyone would assume a lower, more proper rank.
Told you I'd wallow.
2) We're acting as if Yannick Weber, Raphaël Diaz and Alexei Emelin are rookies who can't be depended on and will need to be shielded, babied for a whole season, and we're not far off the mark. The reason we're in this boat is because instead of developing last season, they got half-rations of minutes, minutes which were misallocated to Jaroslav Spacek, Tomas Kaberle and Chris Campoli. We shoulda played the kids and let them grow up, instead of sinking precious icetime into players who weren't going to play a part in our future. We coulda been a lot further along than we are now. We hope that Alexei Emelin will continue as a feared hitter and continue to show some offensive instinct, but improve his positioning, and not chase the puck behind the net. We think Raphaël Diaz can play a role as a headsy skating first-pass type, but we wish we could have seen more. We mope that Yannick Weber somehow stagnated last season. We just wish we coulda seen more from all three.