Lot's of questions, few answers for New York.

NYI Fan CentralSenior Analyst IAugust 3, 2008


Lot's of questions, few answers

There are a lot of questions for this club on paper if it enters training camp, and for next season as it's currently constructed.

I do not really see hiring a coach as a huge question. Some will point out the club has never hired a coach this late, but this season is starting a week later anyway. Does Tampa even have a general manager in place?

The important questions are ones that are frankly going to determine if this club can stay competitive in the first twenty games regardless of who is behind it's bench.

These are the questions that have to be looked at:

Is Mike Sillinger going to be at full strength from day one off his surgery given he has had to stay off skates for months, and some reports claiming that he will not be able to skate until August?

Will Guerin be at full strength, what about Comrie or Rick DiPietro?

Are Witt and Sutton close to a hundred percent after the injuries they had?

For that matter is Bergenheim fully healed after apparent injuries cost him most of the World Championships? Campoli has been off since early January, Gervais' concussion problem was a serious issue at the end of last season.

The younger players recovering from injuries are a concern, but for players who need to be in top conditioning, like Guerin or Sillinger, it's critical. They must have one more huge year at a point where, frankly, if they were healthy all summer, asking for the kind of production it will take, could be too much.

What will the club be getting from Jon Sim, will he hit that wall that many do skating off that kind of injury that can take two full years to regain the speed and quickness? This club desperately needs those seventeen goals he scored for Atlanta.

Isles need the version of Doug Weight who produced two years ago, anything less on a club with so many offensive holes could frankly be fatal, will he even match Vasicek's early production?

Whill someone step up to make this powerplay better and work the puck to the right player in the right spot? Will someone step up with Mark Streit and be a true number two point man with the entire defense signed beyond a year with only room for a trade/injuries?

Perhaps the second biggest question after the veterans health:

Can Comeau, Okposo, Bergenheim and especially Tampbellini produce enough to keep the club competitive? Will Hunter be able to produce more goals? A few of these players have to put up twenty goals or more or the club will not stay competitive. Okposo is going to have to give production on a level with a first or second line NHL right wing, same for whoever the two left wings are in the top six.

This is not 1999 where Tim Connolly is being asked to produce out of a draft, it's not the same as when Taylor Pyatt or Juraj Kolnik were thrown into spots. Outside of Okposo, these players have been in this organization for almost five years in many cases, it's showtime or go time.

Will the toughness factor be a problem with no true enforcer among the forwards or does the lack of enforcer mean Sutton, Witt have to become more involved in that role?

Some questions will work out ok, others will not. The Isles have options and competition for spots which will settle some questions but not all of them.

There are not many answers on paper in early August. I would not be shocked to see a trade or two toward the end of camp.