Unlike some, I'm comfortable with the defensive corps as it stands. The influx of youth this coming season will no doubt cause some growing pains, but I have hope that the doubters will be silenced by solid play by #s 27 and 74.
Addressing the 'hole' and 2C, and GM George McPhee's stance that he's finished shopping, lets look at what's left on the shelf for a minute. I count 17 unrestricted free agent 'centers' on the market (minimum 100 NHL games). Of that 17, 5 are under 30 years of age, 7 are age 30-34 and 5 are 35+. The average career games played for the group:
- <30: 371
- 30-34: 689
- 35+: 848
You could maybe make a case for Kyle Wellwood and Mike Comrie (young, affordable, shown flashes of talent in the past), but they have proven to be chronic underachievers who make headlines more for weight issues and celebrity girlfriends than for playing hockey.
But looking at the options McPhee has in-house, it's easy to see why he's not keen on putting anyone in the shopping cart yet.
- Tomas Fleischmann - With a full season at C, he could become more comfortable in the middle.
- Brooks Laich - He has experience in the middle and could step in with success. Plus, he's not afraid to play smart defensively as well.
- Marcus Johansson - Tons of upside. While he was sometimes unimpressive at Development Camp, he also wasn't skating with Alex Semin and Brooks Laich, who will certainly make him look better.
- Matheu Perreault - In his limited time in DC, he won over scores of fans with his skill and hard work. He's fast enough and savvy enough to anchor the position, even though some question his size.
We'll see how things shake out at Camp this fall!