Shifting our focus to the future, here is my list of what I would be looking at this offseason if I were Lou. Please add any I missed in the comments. I'm sure ILWT will cover many of these in more depth when we get to the offseason but it feels good to look ahead and look away from the issues surrounding this recent stretch.
- Update the team's analysis of what is likely to be out there in FA as teams struggle to get under a lower cap. It should be a unique year and this will impact the decisions below on who the team tries to retain.
- Pursue a skill center or winger to play with Kovy, help the power play, and help in shootouts. Whether it is a center or winger may depend in part on their evaluation of and ability to sign Loktionov..
- Hard look at Zajac's season and whether the team has the wingers who will bring out the best in him.
- Decisions on the core UFA forwards. Zubrus was obviously missed and may be affordable after what is currently a 1 goal season. Elias should want to stay but almost certainly will test the water to get a market price to negotiate from. Calculating the # at which the team keeps Clarkson will be one tough calculation especially after Zajac's extension and performance. Is Matteau ready to replace Clarkson? (It felt like his exposure this season was to prepare him should he need to replace Clarkson or Zubrus next year.)
- Decisions on the FA forward acquisitions. Did Poni and D'Agostini give the team enough to warrant a push to keep them?
- A hard look at the power play and Shaw.
- Can Josefson be a #2 or #3 center? If so he needs to have a more stable role and more consistent linemates.
- Develop depth necessary to survive injuries and to keep CBGB as a 4th line.
- Defensemen - Can a team that is so desperate for offense walk away from Zidlicky and Harrold? Do they buy out Volchenkhov? Does the success in limiting shots over the last two games get some wheels turning as to whether a more mobile defense might help? Or how to make room for the youth? Are Urbom/Merrill ready?
- Hard look at Hedberg, his strong start and his inability to carry the team when Marty was hurt.
- Evaluation of PDB, whether he remains the right coach, and whether he can improve his treatment of younger players.
- Draft focused on SCORING. If a defenseman is the best player available a la Larsson explore trading down to recover some of the lost picks.
- Evaluation of whether my policy of not negotiating with free agents during the season makes sense or whether I am shooting myself in the foot by (i) losing the advantage of having a year to negotiate before competition steps in and (ii) not knowing the status of key FAs when making decisions on whether to retain others (ex. last year with Poni).
- Visits to Goons Anonymous to try and rid myself of my addiction to signing people who can't play hockey to multiple year one way contracts.