Why do I feel confident in this season? I feel that the team really meshed at the end of last season, in which point we went pretty flawless for the better part of the second half. We could've been as high as 6th had we not lost a few crucial games.
Who did we lose off that playoff contending team? Regehr.
Now, I love Regehr. I've always loved Regehr and I'll always miss the guy, but we can survive without him. Now that we've got Hannan, and a guy like Butler ready to compete, our top 4 is set with Bouwmeester, Giordano, Sarich and Hannan.
I obviously believe that Babchuk and Butler will be the bottom pairing, and that Carson will be the 7th Defenseman. I think that one more season of conditioning puts Brodie and Negrin into Sarich/Hannan's spots next year. They just need to stick to it one more year and prove it in possible call-ups.
As for our goaltenders, Kipper and Karlsson will be completely solid. Trust me.
The offensive core is a little harder to figure out. We've always prided ourselves on our grinding and physical play, but that really slipped last season. It seemed that we weren't getting very dirty at all. We do have a lack of a top center and a 2nd line LW. But we can make up for it by grinding down other teams. Its tough work, but we need to be the team that kicks the hell out of everyone else. Thats how we can win.