Coming out of the gates, with the Shubert waive and Smith assignment, it looks like this is the roster:
Michalek - Spezza - Alfredsson
Kovalev - Regin - Fisher
Foligno - Shannon - Cheechoo
Ruutu - Kelly - Neil
Winchester comes back in a few weeks so a move will need to happen then.
Phillips - Volchenkov
Kuba - Karlsson
Campoli - Carkner
I'm expecting to see Lee sent down to Bingo.
My thoughts after the jump.
With the forwards, I think if the lack of goal scoring in the preseason continues into the regular season these lines change quickly. Kovalev on the left side and Regin holding the 2nd line center spot are the first things to change. Shannon could see himself with Kovalev on the right and Foligno on the left if the Fisher/Regin experiment doesn't score.
Regin himself will be watched closely as he's easy to send down when Winchester comes back. Donovan is a nice guy to have but if Regin does keep his spot then I'd expect Donovan to be moved to a team looking for a 3rd/4th line player at his low salary.
At defence, Karlsson of course is going to be nice to watch but the bigger question marks are elsewhere. Volchenkov's health will be important for both the success of the top shutdown pair and for what type of contract he'll be offered before he becomes a UFA next summer. If Carkner is responsible enough in his own end he'll stay up as we all expect fighting to be up in the Northeast this year and Neil can't go every night.
Am I as confident as James Gordon in this team? No. I think they will have scoring issues until all the new forwards (Michalek, Kovalev, Cheechoo, Regin as the 2nd line center) - guys that are expected to score - figure out the new system. If Leclaire outperforms expectations then yes we can look for the 2nd NE position and a 4/5/6 playoff spot. If he's normal, we're going to be in tough.