Nugent Hopkins? Shoulder surgery. Sam Gagner? Mouth ambushed by Zack Kassian. Well we still have Boyd Gordon, but the more I look at this roster, the more it reminds me of one of our friends from Tim Hortons here:
Not many teams are going to fare very well without your top-2 centers. It’s a pretty sizeable hole up the middle (like a donut..get it?). What could this forward group look like then while we wait for one of these two centers to return?
Training camp and pre-season only allow a brief glimpse at all the roster hopefuls and possible line combinations but from what I’ve seen, this is a real possibility:Line 1) The line of Smyth – Hall – Hemsky is one that Eakins seems to favour. I’d bet on that one staying together for a while.
Line 2) Eberle and Perron are again paired together tonight and with Arcobello as the only real “skilled” center left, the role of 2C almost defaults to him. MacTavish has also spoken highly of him.
Line 3) The 3LW seems like it could be a coin toss between Hamilton or Joenssu at this point. Both have played well in the pre-season but this is not an ideal starting position for either of them.
Line 4) At this point, Joenssu is the only thing near a “lock” on this squad and that’s probably an overstatement. Acton hasn’t played poorly but his skill-set only limits how much he can do. Lander and Jones have done nothing to impress but after them you’ve got the Hanson brothers with Brown, MacIntyre and Eager looking to muck things up.
Actually putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) makes me realize how shaky this lineup is. We have a couple of lines that could be difference makers on a good night but this roster really needs at least one of Nugent-Hopkins or Gagner back. RNH sounds like he’s only 3-4 weeks out, so there’s a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel, but Gagner will likely be out for at least a couple months.
Godspeed Sam Gagner.