Simply put the big question here is can Garth Snow's prospects replace the scoring of the fourth (Satan) fifth (Vasicek) and sixth (Fedotenko) highest point producers on his roster from a year ago combined with the veterans who are returning from injury who even with those numbers still produced one of the worst offensive clubs in franchise history that was second lowest in league scoring?
Offense POS GP G A Pts +/-
Miroslav Satan RW 80 16 25 41 -11
Josef Vasicek C 81 16 19 35 1
Ruslan Fedotenko LW 67 16 17 33 -9
That's forty eight goals, one hundred nine points and a minus twenty rating.
On top of that there is no denying fowards like Guerin and Sillinger are in decline at this point of their careers in terms of age or potential production combined with injuries. These are players who you have to pace during an NHL season, Ted Nolan once again will not have that luxury.
So who will replace these players if its not in UFA.
On the surface it seems like an easy answer.
Jon Sim is signed for the next two years and will slide into Vasicek's left wing slot, his seventeen goals his last two seasons in Atlanta should provide a comparable alternative to what Fedotenko gave the club if he is not back.
Also Bergenheim, Comeau and Tambellini will have to pick up the slack being a year older.
For Satan's spot it's kind of easy to speculate Kyle Okposo will slide into Satan's role as second line right wing. With Guerin and Hunter slotted at first and third line right wings depending on who is producing that seems an easy one unless a trade or UFA signing is made but the numbers game suggests no.
The line to replace Vasicek's numbers is a long one already and only getting bigger with Josh Bailey who seems to have the best long-term potential to fill that spot but with Park, Hilbert, Bates, Walter, Nielsen and Colliton for openers anything could happen here.
I will write it seems the best place to sign an UFA because there is an opening but then you have to ask what do you do with a Nielsen or a Colliton or a Walter if you want to commit to youth and finally give them a job after years of development?
You want to sign an UFA, that sounds fine but if you do that one of these young players have to go to allow for that or spend another year in the AHL.
Bottom line for this to have any chance at all players like Hunter and Sim have to score goals. Comrie needs a big year, Guerin and Sillinger have to contribute a lot more offense at a point they just may not be able to.
The kids who make this club will have to pull their own offensive weight in Bergenheim, Okposo, Comeau and Tambellini.
Nothing else is going to solve these problems and the chance they take by not signing their current UFA.