Winnipeg’s Roster Analysis Part I: Forwards
We are pleased to welcome back to Illegal Curve Online, our editor Richard Pollock who took a bit of a hiatus to focus on the Illegal Curve Radio show. With the NHL’s return we have him back and he has returned with a gusto, cranking out a monumental post of his analysis of the Thrashers team that is set to arrive in Winnipeg. If you want to know anything about this team moving forward, here is his breakdown of the team, which will be split into five parts, namely:
II) Restricted free agents, Cap Situation;
IV) Goaltending; and
V) Unrestricted free agents, Cap Situation and the team moving forward.
Winnipeg’s NHL team roster analysis: Part I
It is highly unlikely that anyone has come down from the incredible high that has been the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg. Fifteen years ago when the team left the City of Winnipeg for the desert in Phoenix, Arizona, not many people believed a team would ever return.
On that late April day in 1996 my dad told me that the NHL would be back in Winnipeg in ten years. He said the NHL landscape would change and the cities from which teams had left would get an NHL team back eventually. Few, if any, held the same sentiment. While it eventually took five years longer than his prediction, I’ll call his fatherly foresight and optimism the main reason for my same optimism surrounding the team returning.
It is that optimism that should abound when looking forward to Winnipeg’s current roster. By same optimism I mean a sense of positivism combined with a sense of patience and an awareness of reality.
The team arriving in Winnipeg to open the season this upcoming October is by no means an expansion franchise. On the contrary, the team has a strong base with which to work, especially on defense. A young talented netminder and some talented and potential ridden forwards augment the young and talented defensive base.
That will be music to Winnipeg fans’ collective ears for those old enough to remember back to the Jets’ move from the WHA into the NHL and the accompanying ravaging of the team’s roster. This time around a young base, many of whom have yet to hit their prime years, awaits a ready-to-explode fan base.
Analyzing the construction of this roster requires both a micro and macro review. Winnipeg can be competitive, much like almost every team in the NHL under a salary cap, but the key is building this team moving forward.
Read more about the Thrashers forwards after the jump by clicking read more.
In some ways, maybe it is best for the team to move a slow rebuild through the first three or so seasons building towards a dominant team after the luster of the return has slightly worn off. Quick fixes do not work in sports anymore, if in fact they ever did and the people in charge of Winnipeg are keenly aware of that.
Winnipeg has strengths and weaknesses, and while the offensive core has some building blocks, there is much room to grow in all aspects of the roster.
Winnipeg has nine forwards signed for next season at a combined cap hit of $15.09 million. That means that they have an average of $1.68 million allotted per forward. That is a minimal cap obligation; especially considering that the NY Post reports the cap may exceed $62 million.
Here are the team’s forwards under contract for the 2011/12 season:
|Nikolai Antropov||31||$4.0 million|
|Evander Kane||19||$3.1 million|
|Bryan Little||23||$2.4 million|
|Alexander Burmistrov||19||$1.5 million|
|Jim Slater||28||$1.0 million|
|Carl Klingberg||20||$0.87 million|
|Patrice Cormier||20||$0.85 million|
|Chris Thorburn||27||$0.87 million|
|Tim Stapleton||28||$0.52 million|
The average age of the above players is 23.8 years old. That is a very young core–especially amongst the potential impact players within the group. Evander Kane at 19 years old has already played two full NHL seasons. Alexander Burmistrov was drafted a year after Kane and played an impressive 74 games in his first NHL season. Remember, these are the players signed for next season.
Here is a quick primer about the above listed group divided into levels:
- Young, talented and some NHL experience: Kane, Little and Burmistrov.
- Veteran scorers: Antropov
- Forward prospects: Klingberg and Cormier
- Veteran depth forwards: Slater, Thorburn and Stapleton
Part II will examine restricted free agents and their impact on the team’s cap situation.