Farhan's $0.02: Can Ryan Kesler ever be an elite #1 center?
Let us assume the following: (whether it is has merit or not).
-The Sedin twins will continue to be very good players for years to come, but will not be at the level that they were last year or the year before last year. In other words, Hank and/or Dan will never get anywhere near 112 points per season again, but instead, will become PPG or 0.9 PPG players over the next 3-4 years.
So basically, long story short, the Sedins' will still be very very good players, and will still be GOOD first line players, but they will not be dominating first line players like they were from 2009-2011.....or in the manner that Malkin and Stamkos are at current.
So with that in mind, here are two questions that I have:
1) Does Ryan Kesler have the ability to become a DOMINATING #1 center in the manner that Henrik Sedin was last year and the year before last? (remember - I'm talking about being a DOMINANT #1 center.....in the manner that Malkin is now, or Henrik was 2 seasons ago.........I am NOT talking about as to whether Kesler could be an "acceptable" #1 center or a "very good" # 1 center).
2) If the answer to the above is "no", then do you think it would be a good idea for the Canucks to try and trade for a young elite center in the offseason, that has the potential to become a DOMINANT #1 center in 12-18 months or so?
Here is my line of thought:
-I actually think the twins will still be very good players for years to come (I.e. somewhere between 0.85 PPG and 1.00 PPG players), but I don't think we will see them get 112 points ever again......or ever get above 94 points.........as 1st line players). Maybe 1 more season, but that's about it. Again - it's just my gut feeling.
-With the above in mind, I'm wondering if it would be in the Canucks' best interests to have the twins be "very very good" 1st line players over the next 3-4 years, or have them be DOMINANT 2nd line players over the next 3-5 years?
If at some point in the future, Kesler can be the guy to take over the #1 line and be as every bit as good as Henrik was, then problem solved. The Canucks can then package Schneider/???, etc. to shore up other areas in our line mate......like adding another top quality defenseman.
If however - Kesler isn't capable of being a dominant #1 guy like Henrik was, then my concern is that we won't properly maximize some of our younger players......or if we trade Schneider, etc., for a quality defenseman, our team isn't necessarily better........but just different (think: pouring water into slightly leaking bucket analogy).
Here is what I am tempted to do if it's possible:
1) At season's end, package Schneider, Edler, Schroeder, and a 1st for a guy like John Tavares.
2) Next season, the twins and Burrows still play as our #1 line, but you have Tavares playing with Kassian on another line.....with the two guys building chemistry with one another.
3) Kesler's line becomes the line that is counted on to nullify opposing top scorers from other teams, but is also expected to score goals quite frequently.
Eventually, as Tavares/Kassian line starts getting better, they take over as the new #1 line (circa 2013-2014 season). The Sedins', instead of being "very good" 1st line players, become DOMINANT 2nd line players. Kesler's line becomes one of the best two-way lines in NHL history.
Our entire top 9, even top 12, becomes one of the deepest teams up front in NHL history......and we continue to use that depth to bury teams.
-In net, Luongo continues to be a solid presence and one of the best goalies in the league.
-The Canucks find a way to let go of Raymond, Malhottra, and one of Pahlsson or Lapierre.
-On defense, the Canucks keep Hamhuis and Bieksa as their two main guys. Edler is gone in the package from earlier. Salo plays for a few more seasons. Although his contract is not the greatest, the Canucks keep Ballard to ensure quality on defense (I.e. A way to avoid having to play guys like Rome or Alberts on top 4 incase of injury).
The "calculated risks"
-We take a calculated risk in assuming that Tanev can become as every bit as good as Edler was.
-We take a calculated risk in hoping that Gragnani can become as good as Christian Erhoff was for us last season.
Anyway - that is kind of where I stand.