This is what I would do with our lineup. I actually think it could be a playoff lineup. It's not awful.
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata
Shawn Matthias - Nick Bonino - Zack Kassian
Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Alex Burrows
Derek Dorsett - Brad Richardson - Jannik Hansen
Dan Hamhuis - Chris Tanev
Alex Edler - Frank Corrado
Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa
Sedin – Sedin – Vrbata: 18 Minutes
I love this line. Vrbata seems to be the perfect complement. All of ten play a high IQ game, and Henrik has two snipers as options. Vrbata also takes pressure off Daniel to score goals. I have no doubt this line can put up a solid amount of points, but I guess we will see. If this line can get going, it definitely be one of the better first lines in the NHL.
Matthias – Bonino – Kassian: 15 Minutes
Matthias and Kassian played well together in the last part of the season. That was with third line minutes and with Brad Richardson as their center. Now they get second line minutes to do the same thing, with a more offensively talented center in Bonino. This is a pacific division type line, one that can play hard and physical, and still have enough skill to score. This line would be real tough to play against. The perfect second line to follow the Sedins. The Sedin's hit them with immense skill, and this line hits them with size and strength.
Higgins – Vey – Burrows: 15 Minutes
Higgins and Burrows both are solid two way forwards. Both of them would be good 2nd liners, but they would be awesome third liners. They can help ease Vey into the league giving him Veteran support. This line could definitely put up their fair share of points as well as play solid defense. Burrows and Higgins also have some chemistry in the past. Both are workhorses on and off the field, and would be the perfect fit for Vey's playmaking. Burrows shot also get's turned in for one timers, and quick releases. This line is more line a line 2b.
Dorsett – Richardson – Hansen: 12 Minutes
If you are going to roll 4 lines, you need a line that supplies a solid defensive base. All 3 of these players can play defense well. Richardson showed last year he also has the ability to put up about 20 points a season, and Dorsett was able to do that back in columbus, add that with Jannik Hansen's speed and they can be one of the better fourth lines in the league. Speed, defense, grit, etc. All great qualities for a 4th line, plus a little bit of offensive production from Jannik Hansen and Brad Richardson.
(Sestito - ______): 13th/14th forward
We know what Sestito brings. He's not a terrible player, but he fits the 13th/14th forward role better, bringing in muscle when we lose a guy from injury. The '______' spot is for whichever big man young guy wants to step up and take it. No point in giving it to a top prospect when they need to get their minutes, but it would be a great spot for a Kellan Lain, Ronalds Kenins, Darren Archibald, Alex Grenier etc Someone ready to play bottom 6 minutes while our top enders get more minutes in Utica to develop their craft. They all add different things so it depends on what you want, but my personal choice would be Archibald, but let them compete for it. If you want, you can even give it to Yannick Weber. Has it's benefits. Interesting option)
(Minutes allocated are not exact due to line changes and special teams, but rather a basic template)
Hamhuis – Tanev: 1st Defensive, 2nd Offensive, 3rd physical
This line will be charged with shutting down opposing teams top lines. They play the most in defensive situations, rather than in offensive situations, in case the 2nd line in tired. We know Hamhuis and Tanev can defend, and we know they can shut down top lines. Why change one of the few things that's already working. Plus, it allows Kevin Bieksa to move elsewhere in the lineup, balancing lines.
Edler – Corrado: 3rd Defensive, 1st Offensive, 2nd Physical
Plays against weaker lines to maximize Edlers offense. Corrado is the perfect line mate for Edler. He's a steady PMD who is composed and plays reliable defense. He is much like Tanev as he knows defensive positioning, and the couple of times he get's caught, he can recover. He also has a physical edge which could work well alongside Edler's. They can pour on the offense. We have been looking for a suitable line mate for Edler to play with for a while. Corrado is the perfect fit. Seem's like a match made in heaven. Question is, is he NHL ready, and I personally think he is.
Sbisa – Bieksa: 2nd Defensive, 3rd Offensive, 1st Physical
The second deployed line when needing to shut down top lines. They give a more physical edge than the first line so they can play against bigger opponents. Sbisa brings everything Garrison brought, minus the shot. Sbisa is a strong, defencman who is heavy on the boards. His style really fits well with Kevin Bieksa. This pairing is the stronger, more aggressive line. Plus also, we have seen Bieksa turn on some offense before, but that didn't really work well with Garrison's offensive style. Maybe Sbisa's more defensive style will be a better fit.
(Stanton): 7th man
Stanton is the ideal 7th man. He brings physical aggressiveness, as well as a decent all around game. He already has chemistry with some of the team, namely, Kevin Bieksa, so he can ease right back into the lineup when needed.
Miller: – 50(ish) starts
Lack: – 30(ish) starts
Power Play Units
The format is a little different. You have both Sedins on the sides, Kassian in the center causing havoc in front of the net and screening, with Edler and Vrbata on the points. You can either turn their shots in, or keep them on the outside, either way they can get plenty of sniping opportunities.
This line is more of an up pace type of PP units. Keep the pace up and tire out their defense. Produces a lot more shots rather than passes.
Try and develop Corrado's Quarterbacking skills. I would imagine this line would do more cause havoc in front of the net, and with Corrado on his offside, Tanev can feed him for one timers. Tanev also supplies responsible d, to make sure we don' get caught on an offensive rush.
PK Units (Not much reasoning other than I think they can defend)
Richardson – Burrows
Hamhuis – Tanev
Bonino – Dorsett
Sbisa – Bieksa
Mattias – Hansen
Edler – Corrado
Let the rest of the prospects go back to juniors or spend a year in the AHL. No need to rush them. The only ones that are for sure ready are Corrado and Vey. Even Jensen and Horvat should go back and get one more year. I know theres no such thing as models, like the Boston model and stuff like that, but what is real is scouting and development models. The teams with the best prospect pools all consistently follow a the same scheme. Let them develop. Even if it takes them 4 years of development and they enter the league at 22, it's best they enter when they are at their best.
- Solid First line. Last year the Sedin's were in a funk, and I think mostly due to Torts. This year will be different. They were at their best when they played 17 minutes a night. Torts had hem playing 21+, and especially at their age? Come on. This year Desjardins will make sure they bounce back, and on top they have a new line mate who has the ability to put up 50-60 points along with them.
- We don't really have a second line. The second line is definitely our weakspot; however, we still have 2 lines that can roll as 2A, and 2B. They're composed of a series of players that are all third-second line tweeners. At least that's the conservative estimate. Arrange them in this style creates 2 lines with chemistry and the ability to produce.
- The fourth line is actually one of the better fourth lines in the league. Hansen has third line capability, and Richardson played great when plugged into 3c last year as well. Dorsett is an energy, heart and soul, enforcer. Strength, speed, and a fair amount of offense. What can you ask for.
- We have one line that can defend and shut-down top lines. One line that can defend and shut down, bigger stronger lines. And one line that can play offense. I like Kevin Bieksa coming off the bench and not starting with Hamhuis as well. It gives much added depth down the right side. All 3 of our defense pairings can roll.
- Our goaltending is great. Ryan Miller is a great goalie, and Eddie Lack is already showing he may be too good for backup. We can roll either goalie any night and we will be covered in net.
- Sestito and Stanton being scratches are perfect. They're good enough to be either 4th line or 6th defencman, so having them be depth players is a bonus.
Honestly, I think this team can compete in the division. I see one of those wildcard spots calling our name. Jim Benning retooled and gave us a team that can still contend for the playoffs. Vrbata, and Miller were huge, as well as getting Bonino and Sbisa to replace as much of Kesler and Garrison as they can. Don't count the Canucks out yet.
Utica comets Lineup
(And potential mid season call ups)
Hunter Shinkaruk---Cal O’Reilly---Nicklas Jensen
Dane Fox---Brendan Gaunce---Alex Grenier
Ronalds Kenins---Dustin Jeffrey---Ludwig Blomstrand
Brandon Defazio---Kellan Lain---Darren Archibald
(Patrick Kennedy, Mike Zalewski, Alex Freisen, Alex Mallet)
Peter Andersson---Bobby Sanguinetti
Henrik Tommernes---Alex Biega
Evan McEneny---Yannick Weber
(Jeremy Blain, Kane Lafranchise)
(Jacob Markstrom) if he clears waivers or whatever
(Keep in mind that if this lineup goes through and Bo Horvat does not crack the lineup, most likely, one player from this lineup will get moved up onto the roster)
- Shinkaruk and Jensen start developing chemistry immediately. Their styles complement each other so might as well get them used to playing together. Speed and playmaking one side, and speed and sniping the other. Put Cal O'Reilly in the middle and it could be a great first line. He will do nothing but further their development.
- Gaunce and Fox also start building chemistry at the pro level. They already played on steam together, and now they can do it again, accompanied by 6'4 200+ pound Alex Grenier. Looks like a talented top 6, or at least more talented than last year.
- Great third line. All three of these guys can put up a good amount of third line scoring in the AHL level. They're pretty fast and still have some size too.
- I am a firm believer in you need a good base before you can build. This 4th line consists of 2 guys who have shown they can be at least decent 4th liners on the NHL level, which means they can surely do it on the AHL level. I would argue Zalewski also showed it, but that was in like 3 game stint. Not enough to prove anything yet.
- Our Defense actually looks fairly good at the AHL level. Not great, but still good. They're a little small, but still kind of skilled. The core has a solid mix of defensive play as well as offensive play, but it is still the weak point of the team if you ask me.
- Eriksson is a great AHL starter, and Cannata is a capable backup. Alltogether, not bad in goal.
In the System
- Bo Horvat ©
- Jake Virtanen (RW/LW)
- Jared McCann ©
- Thatcher Demko (G)
- Ben Hutton (LD)
- Cole Cassels ©
- Nikita Tryamkin (LD)
- Anton Cederholm (LD)
- Jordan Subban (RD)
- Gustav Forsling (LD)
- Joseph Labate ©
- Mackenzie Stewart (LD)
- Kyle Petit ©
- Great center depth coming in. You build from the center out and we have a number of 2-way Centers.
- Only 1 Right handed defenseman. As I stated, we may want to address that but it's really not something to be too worried about given that Corrado and Tanev are really young.
- Lots of Left handed defensemen (5). Lots of variety too.
- Only 1 winger. He's one of our best prospects but still only one.