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Claimed:Riga’s Last Hurrah? [6/6 Final]

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Riga’s Last Hurrah?




     Always the bridesmaid, never the bride is a perfect way to describe the current run of the Riga Reign. For the past three seasons, the Reign have beaten the soon to be defunct Vasteras Iron Eagles by a combined twelve to six, only to fall to the HC Davos Dynamo by a combined twelve to seven, although two of those three series went to a game seven. Coming into this season, the Reign and Titans were expected to battle it out for European supremacy, but as a surprise to perhaps everyone except those in Cologne, it would be the Express who would find themselves as European victors of the regular season. Unlike in previous seasons, all three teams in the European side of the playoffs can be seen as legitimate contenders for the Continental Cup. With this is mind, the Reign may be facing their hardest run out of the European Conference. If they were to fail once again, the question remains: what should they do for Season Forty-One?




Option 1: Keep Going


     Without their own Season Forty-Two 1st round draft pick, there is not much for the Reign to lose by going for it all again next season. With the goaltending situation unsettled in Helsinki, Riga will at worst have the same level of goaltending as their European counterparts. At the same time, many of the retired rental players brought in by Helsinki and Cologne will no longer be in the league. With this in mind, the Reign may have the two best forwards in the European Conference on their team next season in Robin Gow and Brennan McQueen. However, it must be acknowledged that both Helsinki and Cologne have rising stars at the forward position. Depending on their continued progression, this may not be the case going forward. Similar to this season, if the Reign want to compete, they must address their forward depth, as they currently only have two forwards with a contract next season, as Niklas Lindberg and Jarkko Olsen are set to retire, and RGIII does not currently have a contract. At the same time, Oslo Storm forward Alistar Graves is expected to make his VHL debut next season.




Option 2: Rebuild


     As noted earlier, the Reign poses many players who would be coveted by other teams throughout the league if they were to become available. With a lack of draft picks or young players moving forward, General Manager Jim Gow would be able to kick-start a rebuild if the team was to undergo a fire sale. There have already been rumors of teams inquiring into some of the Reign’s marquee players, but up to this point, all trade negotiations have been put on hold as the team focuses on their current cup run. While Jim has admitted in private that some players without NTCs may become available at “the right price,” those prices are said to be astronomically high, but teams may not have a choice but to pay those prices if they want to add veteran players to their team.


     Next season is certainly going to be an interesting season in Riga. Both options have their pros and cons going forward. If the Reign decide to compete next season, they’ll likely be looking at a lengthy rebuild going forward. If they decide to sell off their players, it may leave some thinking about what could have been.



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