Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/4/2010 (4167 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The off-season exercise of projecting the depth chart is a strictly a carrot of hypotheticals for most AHL GM's and coaches.
It's meant to keep them hopeful, like their players, but reality has usually overtaken it all by the third week of October.
Then, you play the hand you're dealt and pray that you've got more than one young and unheralded player who becomes a leader.
Such is the sanity of a development hockey league, or so it seems for the Manitoba Moose this season.
A year ago, things were not perfect in terms of a consistent lineup but the Moose generally were a functioning unit from start to a June finish.
Fast-forward to 2009-10 and one hopes that sometime after this trying season is over, Moose GM Craig Heisinger will have kept that original depth-chart board from his office and will be able to have a good chuckle about "the best-laid plans."
But now is not the time for chuckling. The Moose had an important performance Monday night but are still under the gun, down 2-1 to the Hamilton Bulldogs in their first-round AHL playoff series. Game 4 is here on Wednesday.
The situation with Heisinger's defence, in particular, started falling apart even before the third week of the regular season.
And it crumbled right through the team from there, enhanced by the injury troubles of the parent Vancouver Canucks, the instability amounted to a preposterous 434 Moose man-games lost to injury and call-up this season.
What was thought to be a rock-solid group on the blue-line buckled, piece by piece, until the Moose were long past numb to change.
No one counts on bad things happening, but Heisinger is certainly used to it. So while he doesn't have to like the miniscule amount of help the Canucks have provided him this season -- still looking for that front-line centre, we believe -- it's been a thorn in the side of Vancouver's AHL partner.
And not made a whole lot better in recent days when three players who would have impact in Manitoba, namely Nolan Baumgartner, Michael Grabner and Matt Pettinger, now reside in Vancouver, and often in the press box.
The anger on those counts has faded some. How can you tell? Well, the Moose have simply embraced change in the final quarter of the regular season, airlifting amateur-tryout players and free-agent signees.
By our count, Heisinger has brought in nine new players and made two trades since early March. That's half a team. Most coaches would never sit still for such change so far into a season but an inconsistent lineup with inconsistent results simply had to change, so there was little to lose.
That has clouded the projected defensive lineup in early October, but that version of the Moose blue-line only leaves one to wonder just how much more stable and solid the entire team would have been had any of it worked out.
And reasonably, we should add, the Canucks could have been expected to add veteran Brad Lukowich to the mix as they tried to do at the trading deadline. That addition, under different circumstances, would have been a huge upgrade, no matter what the combinations.
But ah, you say, the Bulldogs are without their ideal lineup in this first-round North Division series, too.
True, but adding quality pieces to a 115-point, conference-topping machine has nowhere near the effect as adding the right ones to a middle-of-the-road, looking-for-directions kind of team the Moose have been.
Remember last season? Cody Hodgson joined a well-oiled machine later on, and played but a bit part.
This season, he and others like him would have been difference-makers, or so you'd have to think.
It's how you keep AHL sane and move on to start it all over again next fall.