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28-In-28: Canons Reloaded?

by SICHL Insider | August 22, 2015, 11:56 PM ET

Off to one of my favorite visiting destinations, that would be one Quebec City to check out the Canons! Is this a canon locked and loaded, ready to take out the competition? Or is this a canon that is low on ammunition and in dire need of restocking? Let's look down the barrel and see!

Finances (thanks again to the Costulator):

Canons current cash position $18M Revenue:

  • The team had 93% attendance last season which is 6th in the league.
  • Quebec generated a little over $66.3M in non-playoff revenue ranking them 9th in the SICHL.
  • Their $3685 per seat places them in the 3rd best in the league.
  • Costulator predicts the Canons revenue to remain neutral this season. The Canons seem to have figured out a winning formula both on and off the ice.
  • Quebec had playoff revenue last season and Costulator is predicting they make the playoffs this upcoming season.
  • Expected Season Revenue $66M with anticipated playoff revenues.

Expenditures:

Based on the roster here is the Costulators forecast of the Canons expenditures:

  • Current Roster 26M, Expected farm team costs 1.5M
  • Franchise Player 5M, RFA resignings 6.5M
  • There are SIX forward roster spots to be filled with rookies or more likely UFA's which will drive up the salaries.
  • Expected team expenditures in the $54-58M range.
  • Forecast Bank Balance for the Canons = $25M + anticipated playoff revenue.

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Lots of red on the team's financial page meaning a crapload of potential unrestricted free agents. Yep, 14 in total, and eight of those UFAs are from the 14/15 season pro roster! My guess is Corey uses the FP provision either on Clarke MacArthur or Jussi Jokinen. The good news is there will be some pro roster help on its way in the teams younglings, specifically Curtis Lazar, Zemgus Girgensons and Leo Komarov! Corey will still have to balance things out by signing 3-5 free agents in the offseason.

Corey agreed, in our conference call last week he stated the following: "A forward will be franchised and we have some options there. We have some work to do to fill out the roster. There are some young guys ready to grab spots though too. But we will explore our options on free agency."

Restricted Free Agents:

There is also a whopping 19 RFAs heading into the offseason! Most notable is Dubnyk who should battle Halak for the #1 position in goal. Despite the fact that there a large number of RFAs, Corey won't be sweating it as most are scrubs. I do expect him to sign Helm, Clark, Fistric and a few others.

Strength/Weakness:

Goaltending duo is pretty solid with Halak and Dubnyk. Not sure which one comes out the clear #1, but that is a pretty good problem to have. They also have Laurent Brossoit, a prospect goalie in the system. It seems Corey and I are both in agreement here!

GM Grahamon histeam strength: "As of now I would say the strength is in goal. We finally have some prospects pushing for spots but depth has been a real challenge for the club the entire time I've been in charge. Taking over a team with no prospect depth or draft picks has been a challenge but we are starting to see some payout from our drafts."

Going into next season, the forwards won't be as deep as last season and this team truely lacks a #1 line other than having Kopitar on it. I believe he needs some better castmates around him to make a legit #1 line.A couple of free agent signings could solve this problem.

The defense looks terrible going into next season with a weak core of players. Salo has retired. The team lacks a real top 4 with the exception of Hejda. Corey will have to make moves here via FA or by trade if he wants to compete for a playoff spot.

In the System:

Top 3 prospects include:

1. Curtis Lazar - Quality 2-way center with upside. Tremendous character and leadership quality as well as good offensive skills. Captain Canada is ready to turn pro and should push for a spot on the big team this season. Never will be an offensive leader but has potential to grow into a solid second line centre.

2. Mikael Granlund - A playmaker with excellent vision who can also can skate and shoot. Great hockey sense. Has upside of an all-star. An injury last year kept him on the prospect list. He may be the 2nd line centre this year in Quebec City. He can play any forward position and is a nice compliment to Anze Kopitar.

3. Laurent Brossoit - Butterfly goalie who is big, strong and athletic. He is a potential goalie of the future and has the tools to become a dominant netminder one day. Having Dubnyk and Halak gives Brossoit plenty of time to develop and he will play a ton with the GHA Pistols in Montreal.

In additional to the aforementioned, the team also has some decent prospects in Haydn Fleury, Dillon Heatherington, Thomas Vannelli and Mackenzie Skapski.

Closing notes:

Corey has five picks in the 2015 SICHL draft including the 16th overall pick. Thinking Corey will go for a player like DeBrusk or Barzal if still on the board, but others available at that slot should include Senyshyn, Connor, White or Svechnikov.

GM Graham provided some final thoughts about his team as we wrapped up our convo: "I'm still trying to figure out how Anze Kopitar didn't win the Wayne Gretzky Trophy. 105 points in 70 games and led a team that many thought would miss the playoffs to round 2. Steen had a good year but he couldn't equal Kopitar 1.5 point per game pace.

Future is starting to play a role with drafted players growing into roles on the big club. Good goaltending and Kopitar lead the team but there are some holes to fill again this year.

To the other GMs, my message is the Canons are open for business and have some assets we are willing to move to help this team this season."

Asked what he thought of the Canons, a rival GM provided these thoughts: "The Canons have an ultra-focused GM which can be both a positive and a negative trait. When it comes to the draft, it's almost like their scouting staff has blinders on because if a guy played for the Edmonton Oil Kings, there is an extremely high chance the Canons will draft him. That often means better players are being passed over. It's WHL or bust in Corey's eyes. I don't think the Canons have drafted outside of the WHL, not even a QMJHL or OHL player let alone a college kid, in the last 4 years except for Zemgus Girgensons. But, focus on what you now and Graham knows the WHL as well as anyone so drafting almost exclusively from that league means that he has a really good idea of what he's getting with his picks.

I think the Canons have had a hard time making deals. I'm not sure why that is but I get the feeling Corey is always trying to get things done but can't find a dance partner so ends up spinning his wheels from year to year."

I asked a World Conference GM his thoughts on the Canons as well, and he said "The Canons have tons of work to do upfront! 8 UFAs on the forward roster! Yikes, I guess it's time to do a full revamp! It could be a whole different team next year. Wonder if Corey is willing to invest in another competitive team? I don't see the rookies stepping up to solve his roster problems."

I agree to a point that Corey needs to do some roster maneuvering. He has to find a couple of linemates for Kopitar as the rest of the gang are a mishmash of 2nd, 3rd and 4th liners. I think in a season or two it's a whole different ballgame. I am not sure if Corey should hold assets and try and patch things via free agency. I think he needs to continue to add prospect depth. We'll see what happens this offseason. This is one team that could have a completely different team that made the playoffs last year for the first time in its history!

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