The Ducks are on a roll, and there is tentative talk of playoffs again. Realistically, however, if the Ducks miss even 3 of the remaining 22 points, their chances at seeing the post-season are reduced to a coin flip.
Daniel, no one ever wants to start looking at next year, but with the team signing Jake Newton and Nick Bonino in recent weeks, and a likely changing of the guard this summer, should Randy Carlyle and Bob Murray consider inserting some youth into the lineup down the stretch, or should they stay committed to the veteran group until they are mathematically eliminated?
I for one think the Ducks need to start looking at what's in the cupboard, and not just because I hardly ever watch our prospects play. With Wisniewski's recent suspension, and the outstanding play of Visnovsky, I can't imagine a scenario where Wiz is wearing a Ducks sweater next year-- praise be to the hockey gods!! --but Eminger's been a pretty large disappointment, and Brookbank and Festerling are quality, but mostly as bottom-pair D-men.
Based on your report, I think this Newton kid has potential. I also think, that when his WHL commitment is over, Sbisa deserves a second look in a high pressure situation. Even Mikkelson might deserve a second shot to prove he's shaken those inconsistency issues. The fact is, a lot of different things can happen this summer for the Ducks, and a quick look at some young talent might help Murray have a more efficient summer, instead of wasting camp slots on duds like McCarthy and Boynton.
I think there's been a good incorporation of young forwards, but the blueline has been my major concern all year, and it's time to see what the prospects really look like against NHL teams hungry for points. Even if we can't call up all of them, if we can get a good look now, we'll be ahead of schedule for camp. And if some of them actually help push us to a playoff berth, awesome. But if not, we can at least get an idea of what we really have for next year and whether or not this year is a bad memory or the beginning of a long nightmare.
First, let me say, that despite Sexton's performance with minimal minors time this year, I doubt the front office or Randy Carlyle will ever commit to making the team intensely greener next year. I wish they would. David McNab, Rick Paterson, Martin Madden and Alain Chainey have done some great work, and we have a great cupboard.
And I definitely agree that it might be a good idea to get a look at the future of the blueline corps. Right now, Aaron Ward is only playing 14:48 per game. He and Festerling are being trusted with so little time that I don't know if it matters that we stick Jake Newton in there. Imagine what it does for our stock with NCAA free agents this summer if we can point to Dan Sexton and Jake Newton in the lineup down the stretch.
Also, with Nick Bonino in the booth last night, I think it's a good idea to give him a look. If we lose Koivu, who knows what we have for the second line? Can we promote Marchant, Chipchura or Carter without hurting the Bottom 6? Do we have a kid who's ready to climb into the Top 6 the way Dan Sexton did this year? I would hate to see this team sink a big contract into a second line center in the offseason only to find out that we're deeper at pivot than we think.
It's going to be an important offseason, and I don't see the harm in giving some kids a game or two, even if we're still technically, mathematically in the thing. I think sending Sbisa down was a mistake, and I don't know how many times the Ducks are going to make that mistake before they trust their scouting staffs, not to mention the rookies themselves.