Feb. 23, 2020
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<div class="quote"><div class="quote_t">Quoting: <b>Marcsnack</b></div><div>The reason I cannot see Pitlick making it is it forces us to play with only 1 scratch instead of 2. As for Nylander, I was super high on him when we acquired him and when he finally got playing time I was buzzing. He got a chance in the top 6, but didnt perform the best. He is now 25 so he really needs to show what he is. I want him to do well, but he really has to elevate his game from last season.
On D, I wouldnt mind a POJ-Smith pairing, since it is one defensive D and one offensive D, but since they are both lefties, Sullivan might not be a fan. I honestly rather move Smith if we arent going to use him, but I dont know how much value he carries at this point.</div></div>
I'm thinking along the same lines with Pitlick, but I'm not sure if managment agrees. He and Nylander I think have higher upside to Hinnestroza and Johnsson but lower downside.
The issue with the POJ-Smith pairing is that I would not call either of them a defensive defenseman. Even with Ruhwedel/Pysyk, we only have 3 decent defensive defensemen. I think it could work but having 1 of Ruhwedel or Pysyk would be more balanced.
Tatar definitely makes it if he signs. I think the 3 forwards you mentioned are all frontrunners for spots, but I could see Nylander or Pitlick leapfrogging Hinnestroza or Johnsson. Poulin and Puustinen are probably close to NHL ready (especially Puustinen) but it's more of an uphill fight for them to get a roster spot, and Puustinen's skillset is better suited for a top 6 role. Zohorna and Wagner I really think are just there for organizational depth and won't see much time unless we see a lot of injuries.
On defense, I'd have loved to get Joseph and Smith NHL time but that would mean pairing them together and that won't make a well-rounded pair. As of right now, I see Ruhwedel in the 3RD slot with Smith as the 7th D, but if Pysyk is healthy enough after missing all last season, he could contend for one of their positions. Friedman, Butcher, and Hajek are in the same sort of position Zohorna and Wagner are in where they've got a steep uphill battle to get NHL time. I wouldn't count any of them out, especially Friedman, but the odds are not in their favor.