For the last couple of days, and continuing for the next few days, I have been and will be looking at each team in the NHL and identifying a couple of players in particular that fit into one of two categories based on the once popular kids game, Chutes and Ladders. The players in the “chutes” category will be players who exceeded expectations last season, and will have a difficult time avoiding a slide in the coming season. The “ladder” category will consist of players who are ready to climb a level in their play and step up a notch. Feel free to brows back to see previous teams, and look for more teams in the coming days.
Chutes: Marc-Andre Fleury – There might not be a shorter leash in the league than the one that Dan Bylsma will have on his “number 1″ goalie. Truth is, Fleury is toeing the line between confident and whatever the opposite of that is. Either way, with Vokoun looking over his shoulder, Fleury needs to show he can play under pressure, something that he hasn’t been great at on many occasions in the past.
Ladders: Beau Bennett – With the acquisitions of Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Jussi Jokinen at the trade deadline, the biggest impact was felt by rookie Bennett. With 2 of those players gone after a short stay, Bennett might get back into the top 6 and land the plum assignment alongside Evgeni Malkin and opposite James Neal. He has the speed and the skill to play in that spot, it is just a matter of giving him a chance.