In the summer of 2011, the San Jose Sharks retreated in every sense of the word.
Strategically, general manager Doug Wilson decided to yield assets up front to bolster the back end. Military outfits have to do this sometimes, and given that the best blue line generally wins the Western Conference, it seemed a prudent move.
Wilson traded centre prospect Charlie Coyle and 30-goal scorer Devin Setoguchi for All-Star defenceman Brent Burns. In the process, they retreated down the draft in a swap of picks, retreated in the standings five places and were defeated faster than any playoff team in franchise history.
When Wilson traded the trifecta of resources—a top-six forward, their top prospect and the first pick they have—for one player older than anyone he let go, he envisioned immediate results. But that does not mean he should abandon the philosophy.
The reason the move did not succeed was because the Sharks forwards remaining did not perform well.
In the first six seasons with Wilson at the helm, San Jose had at least eight forwards with 10 goals. There were only seven in 2010-11, but all of them had at least 20 goals.
That is scoring depth. Contrast that with last season when only five Sharks forwards scored 10 goals, and it is easy to understand what was missing.
Michal Handzus and Martin Havlat are returning veteran forwards expected to produce more this season. But instead of going after more veteran talent as in years past, Wilson is giving some young talent a chance to fill out the checking lines.
New blood and new roles make the depth chart that much harder to figure out. Less than a week of training camp and no preseason games makes it worse.
In all likelihood, the line combinations will be very similar to what was outlined by CSN Bay Area as camp opened. Coaches will want to give players time to develop chemistry, only changing things hastily when they lose games: 2-5-1 used to be under 10 percent of a season and is now the equivalent of a month in a full season.
It is the same thing with injuries. Havlat's injury last season was 43 games. Five games less than the entire 2013 season.
Not only will play and injuries jumble the depth chart, but situations will. Ryane Clowe may be on the same line as Logan Couture, but he will not be on the ice in as many situations. Fourth-line penalty killers from checking lines may get more ice time than third-line forwards...
The more pertinent question is, who will be on the ice the most this season? The following list examines who gets the most time in the end of the season and why, factoring in injuries...for a prediction of how they will perform, check out the core and role-player projections written for Examiner.com.