If you are stopping by hoping to find commentary about the team’s co-captain announcement on Thursday afternoon, you can find a couple of layers of thoughts on that HERE.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe reasons through options, considers top priority goals and arrives at a preferred set of forward lines for the front part of the season.
Important to note is that line combinations can and will change intermittently when injuries occur, things go stale, Peters looks for balance and/or match ups, etc.
At a basic level, the primary goal of building the forward lines is to win hockey games. But at a level below that and not at all in direct conflict to priority one, if I was Bill Peters I would assemble my initial set of line combinations with a few goals in mind – namely jump starting a couple of things offensively.
Teravainen / Rask / Williams
If I could pick one forward who I would like to see start fast out of the gate, it would be Teuvo Teravainen. Entering the season, I view him as having the widest possible range of results for the 2017-18 season. He has enough skill and offensive zone hockey sense to be among the team’s leading scorers. But thus far in his young NHL career, Teravainen has been unable to find the every-game consistency that generates more than sporadic depth scoring. Teravainen played well in preseason, and much of that was on a line with Justin Williams. I like the idea of playing Williams and Teravainen together early to see if they can find chemistry and help boost Teravainen to the higher end of his possible range for this season. A positive side effect of pairing Teravainen and Williams is that Victor Rask also finds himself in a reasonably favorable situation scoring-wise. He is another player who could use a spark early.
Aho / Staal / Lindholm
My perfect Hurricanes world pre-offseason had that Hurricanes adding a top 6 scoring/playmaking center who could pair with Sebastian Aho and be two-thirds of a top scoring line. With the Hurricanes instead more likely to score enough through balance and a committee, I like the idea of adding Aho to the combination of Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm with I like very much as two-thirds of a high-end checking line that can score. I think Aho helps significantly with the ‘and can score’ part of the equation. Staal is a tremendous hockey player but is not the pure finisher or playmaker that many other first or second line centers are. Lindholm seems to have pent up scoring potential that is ready to bust loose. In his second year, could heady playmaker Aho be the catalyst that boosts scoring for a line that is first and foremost tasked with stopping the other teams’ best lines?
Skinner /Ryan / Kuokkanen
As much I like Martin Necas, I am on record as thinking that he is the purest young center that the Hurricanes have seen since Eric Staal. Necas could transition to wing and might even be fairly good at it, but his natural place as a pass-first forward with skating ability and vision is that of a playmaking center. Significantly, with a group of centers who lean defense, this is significant. So I give the nod to Kuokkanen. It is unclear what degree of chemistry a set of Jeff Skinner, Derek Ryan and Janne Kuokkanen will find, but I like the idea of getting this combination of skilled players all with finishing ability on the ice in the offensive zone. Skinner has proven to be a one-man force when he is clicking, so even if the other two end up being spectators at times, scoring potential is there. I continue to think that the next leg up for Skinner from being a 50-60-point player to being closer to a point per game comes from the elusive task of finding chemistry with line mates such that he boosts their scoring and vice versa.
Nordstrom / Kruger / Jooris
The addition of Marcus Kruger and Josh Jooris were votes for building a fourth line that was defensively capable enough to sit behind Staal’s line, especially on the road, such that coaches trying to play the match up game have two good checking lines to contend with. From that starting point and expected role for Kruger’s line, I think Jooris is the best fit for what I see as the last forward slot on the right side of this line. As much as I like Brock McGinn’s intensity level and physical play, he can at times lose track of the positioning and situations such that he can be one too many on the same wall and create openings behind him. Because of that, I think the best option out of the gate is to insert Jooris and in the process build the soundest line possible to round out the lineup.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Who votes for Martin Necas over Janne Kuokkanen at least short-term since he might only see a 9-game or less trial?
2) What are your preferred line combinations?