This is all speculative (and observive, is that a word?), and I would love feedback and guesses, but I'm really curious as to what Garth is thinking/planning with some of his moves.
I think it's clear, if not I think I will state it, GARTH LOOKS TO BE DOING A VERY SLOW AND STEADY REBUILD TO BRING THIS TEAM BACK TO ELITE STATUS. Does this method work? With excellent scouting/drafting, solid fair value to discount signings/resignings, a number of top 5/10 draft picks, and some luck, this method could turn you into a team like the Blackhawks or say a team in continual rebuild: Ex: JT/Nielsen/Moulson/PAP/Streit aging/retiring/leaving for UFA before this team can become a continual cup contender, sort of like the Ducks right now, no defensive depth or much forward depth and the likely hood of elite/top talents like Perry/Getzlaf/Selanne/Koivu-even leaving or retiring soon. So as you see, this type of rebuild can be very good or it could lead to continual rebuild due to complete mismanagement of assets and bad luck. Ultimately the Blue Jackets are/are-about to go through what you exactly don't want to see a franchise do from start to "middle" and on of a rebuild, they are a complete mess and going to be extrememly lucky if they see a deep playoff run within the next decade, and describing everything they've done wrong would take too long for me to write right now.
Evidence of slow rebuild:
-Signing stop gap vets that are on the downfall of their careers: (Guerin/Weight/Eaton/Staios/Pandolfo/Rolston)
-Leaving possible/likely NHL ready AHL forwards in the for most of the season.
-Letting coaches with back to back bottom 5 NHL finishes continue coaching the team.
-Trading UFA in their walk year for picks(oddly they didn't do it this year, could be a sizable mistake)
-Trying to accumulate lots of draft picks.
-Continual bottom of the conference finishes
-Continual cap floor spending, and even reaching their with cap mules and buyouts and ELC bonuses.
And of course he has had his question marks/faults during this time too, especially over the last year, arguably hurting the team short term:
-Letting Hillen, our 2nd best offensive d-man leave for nothing this offseason.
-The rushing of Nino to the NHL when he clearly wasn't NHL ready and then using him in a 4th line defensive role with no regular PP time, pretty much the last place you'd expect him to be used.
-The rushing of Bailey.
-The home run "rental" shot of Ryan Smyth at a questional time at/of the team's future(rebuild or play out older vets the next few years?).
-The overdrafting of DeHaan, etc etc.
-2yrs for Mike Mottau?
-Rolston as a $5mil cap mule? Is there a worse dollar/performance player out there? Other than scott go....no even he's better, maybe redden is worse. That's the worst dollar/performance gamble or player we could have found.
-Questioning draft picks, albeit very early.
-Depending on value/what you think of defensive forwards, Okposo being signed for 5yrs and Grabner being signed for 5yrs could turn into overpayments and possibly stupid extensions given length of contract(what if Okposo turns into the next Comeau?)
This isn't meant to scare you, or even belittle what we have as a team right now, but we really need some solid development and signing of young top 4/top 6 talent in the next few years to really make this rebuild see success soon and not turn into a continual rebuild because a number of our "best" players are soon aging or leaving for UFA. Moulson is a 30goal scorer, but 28yrs old, and we shouldn't count on him being a 25goal scorer in his mid-30's, when Strome/Nino should/will likely be peaking. Same goes for Nielsen and his 2-way abilities, possibly more so given he is a "skinny" mobile defensive/2-way forward turning 28 in April with some injury concerns. Same for PAP, he's 29 this month, and one of our top 3 offensive forwards any way you look at it. Losing him would hurt, but so would wasting his talents on a basement team for the next few years of his "slight post prime years". And Streit is the biggest example for numerous reasons, 1 he's the oldest at 34yrs old, 2 he was a true top pair 2-way d-man pre-injury and can go back to it, 3 he's a 10goal/50pts threat and that's something very rare, 4 he's one of the best d-men in our obviously weakest NHL ready spot(d-men), and 5, he's the closest to retirement among impact players on the roster.
This also leads to the "draftees" on this team. How much Bailey experimentation does he get?(not saying he's a bust) Would Garth continue playing Bailey till 25yrs old if all he proves to be is a 10goal/20pts 3rd liner with horrible advanced stats? Same with Okposo. If he proves to be nothing more than an averagish 3rd line checker that puts up 12goals/yr, do you look to drop him and his then overpayed $2.8mil/yr? How long do you continue to sign cap mules and "rush" young forwards for their ELC bonuses? Easier said than done, but these are the big decisions that can make or break a rebuild team.
Then comes the question I have for you guys, and I'd love to read in-depth thoughts and analysis here: Do you guys think Garth is using the right methods/plan to rebuild this team? Do you have any complaints or strong agreements with his plan/methods? POST AND SHOW ME YOUR THOUGHTS!!! :-) I'm sure I missed and didn't go into stuff, so feel free to add too.
Sadly, this slow rebuild means continual basement seasons without some huge internal/draft player improvements and/or unforeseen impact UFA signings. Also sadly, this could lead to NY/Long Island losing the islanders from lack of "powerful people"/mass population support. A big question of "is this type of rebuild and timing worth it at that possible cost"? Lots of interesting questions/ideas/arguments can be brought from this.
I think the most interesting team vs team comparison is gonna be the Oilers vs Us. Both started the rebuild at a similar time, but the Oilers have a lot more offensive firepower than us, but noticably less defensive talent. Gonna be interesting to see "who becomes a cup contender 1st/gets their next cup 1st".