28-In-28: The Supersonics!

Time to take a look at the Supersonics, Edmonton's #1 team. Listen to each game on TSN1260, your source for all things Supersonic!
by SICHL Insider | August 4, 2015, 12:13 PM ET

Now a look at the Supersonics. Web guru and alleged co-founder of Napster, Mike Franceschini has built himself a pretty solid team in Edmonton. Have to give credit to his trading ability as most of the talent on this team has been obtained via trades from Wheeler, Steen, Berglund to David Backes. The only real top 6 guy drafted by Edmonton on the current pro roster is Paul Stastny. Note to self, avoid trading to Edmonton. Just kidding Mike, as I must admit, Mike does throw out reasonable offers and not in the lowball fashion!

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Finances:

$29.4M in the bank. Mike is in pretty good shape financially. Another playoff run will be expected in 2015/2016.

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Five pending UFAs on the books but none more important to this club than veteran top six forward Jerome Iginla. I would expect to see Mike use his FP signing to keep Iginla and let Robyn Regehr, Marty Brodeur, and 4th liners Patrick Dwyer & Maxim LaPierre walk. Michel Neuvirth will slide in the backup role.

Restricted Free Agents:

The Supersonics have 13 RFAs to sign. Most important player will be Blake Wheeler. Mike will most likely lock him up full term rather than qualify. Wheeler is top 15 in scoring last season with 87 points. Other key signings will be Josh Jooris, Derek Dorsett and Anton Lander, guys who will figure into the bottom 6 mix. Another key guy will be Calvin de Haan who can slide in and eat up some of the minutes lost by Regehr as well as Andrew MacDonald.

Strength/Weakness:

I would have to say that the biggest strength on this team is the top 6 forwards. An impressive and scary bunch that can put up big numbers. A huge part of the Sonics success and with the emergence of Tatar, it's about to get better! Based on age and contract status, Mike has the key pieces in play for at least until the end of 2017/2018. The biggest weakness for me is the aging defensive core. Chris Phillips and Dan Boyle are no spring chickens and the Sonics will most likely lose Regehr to unrestricted free agency. I suspect Mike will deal with this in free agency or via trade, possibly offering up a guy like Alex Tuch, Bo Horvat or former 1st rounder (2012) Tom Wilson.

In the System:

Top 3 prospects include:

1. Thomas Tatar - Strong hockey sense and offensive instincts. This speedy winger can also play center. Very versatile. Tatar possesses a lot of upside. Steadily improving each season. Bound for a top six role with the Supersonics this coming season.

2. Bo Horvat - Tremendous hockey sense. Solid 2-way forward with upside. Excellent on the faceoffs and strong in the defensive zone. Should see bottom six minutes with the Sonics or possibly split time between the farm and pro teams.

3. Alex Tuch - has the makings of a power forward. Good compete level and has excellent stick handling skills as well as a good shot. A few years away from making an impact, with a shot at representing team USA again this year at the WJC. In additional to the aforementioned, the Sonics have a few guys looking to make an impact with the GHA Buccaneers in Bobby Sanguinetti, Jake McCabe and Mattias Backman.

Closing notes:

Mike has five picks in the 2015 SICHL draft. Mostly late picks with the exception of a 2nd round pick. This is a deep draft, so Mike could nab a few gems. However, as he indicates below, he is shopping for a 1st round pick.

Via conference call with Mike at his posh Caribbean beach house, he had this to say about his current team, "I think my team has been on the brink of a rebuild for a few seasons, but every year I come roaring out of the gate and am able to make a few trades to build what a team that I think has a shot at it. I have a few decent prospects coming up... namely Tatar and Horvat, and a few solid B-listers in Wilson and Lander, and Tuch is a few years away. I have solid goaltending, and a wealth of good forwards and above average D. I don't have a first round pick this year, but I may be willing to trade away some high end talent to acquire one."

Here is what one of my "esteemed" colleagues had to say about the Sonics current state, "Gotta give Mike credit, he keeps finding ways to stay relevant. Looks like he's got some work to do in free agency, but I'd expect him to be in the playoff picture as always".

With all due respect Mike, sign Iginla, shore up the defense and you have a legit shot at the cup!

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