Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Potential Lines

With an eye towards 2012-13, it's time to look at our roster. While it should be easy to fill out the top two lines, the hard part remains the third and fourth where a number of players will try to replace popular Blueshirts.

Anytime you subtract character guys like Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko, it's not easy. All four were used everywhere by John Tortorella and instrumental on our penalty killing unit. It'll be up to new acquisitions Jeff Halpern, Arron Asham and Taylor Pyatt to adjust to Tortorella's demanding style that includes sacrificing body parts. Better known to uneducated Daily News columnists as blocked shots. Encouraging is that all three are gritty and shouldn't have a problem fitting in.

Brian Boyle remains our top penalty killer who also takes important faceoffs. An area which Halpern will assist in. Ryan Callahan is a heart and soul leader who'll do anything to win. Other candidates to help the PK are Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, Brad Richards and Rick Nash. Our stars shouldn't have to do it much thanks to the additions of Halpern and Asham, who both are capable in this capacity. Pyatt hasn't killed penalties much but should become a fixture on a second power play unit due to his willingness to drive the net and screen goaltenders.

If Marian Gaborik were healthy, I'm sure Tortorella would be tempted to put together a star-studded line of Nash, Richards and Gaborik. However, I still believe splitting them up once Gabby returns would be more effective unless they develop chemistry right off the bat. Young guns Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin are keys to the club's success. Does Tortorella keep Kreider with Stepan and Callahan while starting with Nash, Richards and Hagelin? That's probably the most likely scenario.

It then becomes a question of who does Boyle play with and what is the fourth line. Once Gaborik comes back, Tortorella will have the luxury of using Hagelin or Kreider on the checking line which should make us more formidable. Especially given their speed and skill. Until then, the likely candidates to team with Boyle are Pyatt, Mike Rupp and Asham. One will be on the fourth line where Halpern should be an improvement from John Mitchell (signed with Colorado). There just isn't as much versatility with Dubinsky and Anisimov around as both could double as extra centers. It still shouldn't be that bad. I just am not sure how much production to expect out of the supporting cast.

Lines Without Gaborik


Note: Maybe Micheal Haley or a kid starts with the team on the fourth line.

Lines With Gabby


These are only suggestions. You might see Callahan on the top unit for added scoring. Would you put our Big Three together?

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