28-In-28: Rapids Rapidly Improvingby SICHL Insider | August 7, 2015, 11:37 PM ET
Now let's take a look at the Denver Rapids! Young, brash and bold, Sam Myers takes over the Miami Makos in 2013 and immediately moves them to Denver as the rebranded Denver Rapids. From there he deals off players like Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Martin Hanzel, Dwayne Backes, JVR, Alexander Steen, etc. while accumulating 1st round picks. The rebuild was on.
Sam has a hefty sum of dough in the bank at close to $64M. When he decides it's time to compete he has the funds, picks and prospects to wheel and deal his way into building a solid contender. Could be the GM with the most assets to play with.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
Only four players set to test unrestricted free agency. I would suspect of the four players that Sam will sign Kyle Quincey over Ryan Garbutt with his FP provision. Quincey was one of the top d-men for this team last year although with the emergence of youngsters like Jones, Del Zotto and Rielly his minutes will diminish.
Restricted Free Agents:
The biggest weakness in goal. David Leggio and Cedrick Desjardins will not win you many games (maybe that is the plan, although it didn't get him McDavid (well yet)). Demko nor MacDonald are nowhere close to taking the reins. Sam could snag a UFA to fill this void in the short term.
The offence will improve a little with the emergence of Johnny Gaudreau but still can't win many games when you only have Riley Sheahan, Scottie Upshall, Casey Cizikas, J.T. Miller, etc. Not yet anyways.
In the System:
Top 3 prospects include:
1. Sam Bennett - Highly skilled 2-way forward. Most likely a year of way before becoming an impact player for the Rapids. Has leadership qualities and a feisty side. Despite his inability to do a chin-up, Bennett is an elite talent and has great on-ice vision with a high compete level.
2. Dylan Larkin - Talented forward with good upside. He is a year or more away from making an impact with the Rapids. He is an offensive threat and strong on the skates. Has a strong work ethic and has power forward potential.
3. Johnny Gaudreau - Obtained via trade with the Golden Bears, Gaudreau is expected to log top six minutes with the Rapids this coming season. Gaudreau is a smallish forward with offensive skill, quick hands, explosive speed and can stickhandle with the best of em. Despite his size, Gaudreau has the strength to handle the physical play.
In additional to the aforementioned, the Rapids have a plethora of prospects in the system. Some of those players will leap to the pro level either in the GHA or with the pro club. Guys like Ryan Pulock, Andre Burakovsky, Anthony Mantha, Phil Di Giuseppe.
Sam has 12 picks in the SICHL draft and a whopping 5 first rounders including his which happens to be the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Can you say Jack Eichel!
Sam shared his thoughts about his team via Skype tonight - "Although we didn't win the lottery, you can consider Eichel as maybe the best consolation prize in the past 10 years. Eichel will step up and assume that number 1 center position and most likely a captains role for years and years to come. We have the deepest and most talented prospect pool in the league. The longer the rebuild the better the comeback. The Rapids will be a cornerstone franchise of the SICHL in no time."
Speaking with another SICHL GM recently about the Rapids, he said "This is the prototypical rebuild here. Money in the bank and only growing with a low payroll. A plethora of solid prospects working their way up through the system. And more draft picks in the 2015 draft than I have had in my entire tenure in the league! This team won’t win in the near future, but look out long run. Perhaps the greatest asset the Rapids have right now is the ability to take on some bad contracts from other teams, at a price of course, but with only 66 players and a measly $21M committed salary next year they have leverage and can help some teams out of a bind."
Sam is a mover and shaker and I suspect will start making the moves to be a serious contender within the next 2-3 years. He has a plan.
The Rapids still have work to do but with Sam Myers at the helm, it is heading in the right direction. This could be a scary team in a few years time and perhaps the model for GM's who are at the crossroads with their teams. Sell your 3-5 top assets while they still have value and rebuild the right way. We look forward to the draft to see which direction Sam takes. Continue drafting or pull off a major trade! Remember Sam, Havana is shopping #1.