Well, I'm sure everybody has heard about Sharp by now. Three to four weeks for recovery means he is basically gone for the entirety of camp and possibly a bit of the season. Along with Kane's issues, this isn't great news for Sharp, the team or the fans. However, for the prospects, this has to have just opened the door for an extra long look at one or two kids. Granted, guys like Sharp and Kane were not going to play every game anyway and with Q as coach, you can expect that even the Zamboni driver and some kid working at a local Dominick's were going to get a few shifts just to see what it looks like. But when you know both are gone until at least the start of the season, I would think it's going to change things. So, in order to save me from writing a book review or from reviewing the skates I bought this summer, how bout a column of wild speculation until the adult leadership of this site has something more respectable to comment on?
One scenario that I think a lot of people have fantasized about is a trade for a legit, honest to God second line center and I don't think it's going to happen. Behind the scenes, we have no idea what Bowman was working on or might still be working on and I don't think you can ever think SB is "done". But, with Sharp's ability to play center and with his contract decided, it gave SB the option to stockpile some center prospects and give them a chance to bulk up and mature and that plan probably hasn't changed. I've listened to several podcasts of people talking about prospects like Kruger and I know he would absolutely tear up the Thursday night rec league here in Vegas and probably get pushed up to at least the Wednesday night league where it gets a little more competitive. Whether that means he is ready for the bigs is another question though. Right now, I still think Sharp is going to be the number two center for the year even if he starts late and one of the kids has a solid enough pre-season to start there. Though I hate that Sharp is down right now, I do actually like the situation wherein the entirety of camp will be an audition for second center.
In Kane's case, I'm not sure how much opportunity his being out for preseason actually gives to the prospects. If a guy like Smith is being looked at as a possible energy guy down on the fourth line, he might see some minutes. But with the arrival of Brunette and Olesz, along with the already present Stalberg and Frolik, there's not a lot of room up top for a prospect to break in unless they absolutely out compete the veterans and/or Olesz looks like a bust. Stalberg is a guy I could see getting traded this year if he can't nail down a top spot, sorta like Brouwer. If a kid does win the second center and Sharp returns to wing, it compounds this issue. As with Sharp, I don't think it's good that Kane is out, but with a crowd of guys trying to find a spot at wing, it gives Q a lot of opportunity to try some different things. We'll likely see some of the kids anyway, but I'd be surprised if any break camp in a top six spot.
On special teams, Q again will have opportunity and necessity to work in different guys. Last year, the Hawks improved on the PP from 16th to 4th. However, the PK went from 4th to 25th. Even with the loss of some key guys, this team was not challenged to score but with Sharp and Kane both possibly out to start the season, that's not a good and I don't think anyone is really going to replace what those guys do. Defensively, I am hoping that some of the new faces have something to offer. Guys like Keith should be a lot better with a summer of rest and recharge, but it seems the PK still needs a facelift. Can Q work some magic with the random line generator and new faces?
Though I bitch a lot, I tend to be very optimistic about this team and blinded by bias. I'm bummed Kane and Sharp could both possibly miss the open of the season, but I actually see more opportunity here then crisis, especially considering that both Sharp and Kane are expected to be back sometime early season. With the new faces, Q does have a tough gig of sorting it all out and without Kane and Sharp there, it gives him flexibility to continue evaluating until both are back. Regardless, I'm glad it's finally just one freaking week until it starts.
Filed under: Uncategorized