By Bob Trask – During the summer doldrums, with too much time on our hands, there is always speculation on what the Canadiens lineup could look like. Here is one hypothetical lineup for the forwards’ line combinations.
First: Cole Caufield – Nick Suzuki – Juraj Slafkovsky
Second: Sean Monahan – Kirby Dach – Josh Anderson
Third: Alex Newhook – Christian Dvorak – Jesse Ylonen
Fourth: Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Jake Evans – Brendan Gallagher
Extras: Michael Pezzetta, Joel Armia
With the current personnel, this is what I would like to see the Habs try – at least in training camp.
Why it could work
First line: I think Slaf has both the skill to play with Caufield and Suzuki and his size would bring an added dimension to that line. He has better vision and passing skills than Anderson making him a better fit.
Second line: Lots of size here and Monahan could take key faceoffs while Dach continues to hone his skills in that area. The passing skills of Dach complement a shoot first player like Anderson. Monahan brings a great all around game.
Third Line: This line line is interesting because it has speed on the wings and grit in the middle. It could be surprisingly effective offensively. In addition to his shooting and passing skills, Ylonen has also shown he is dedicated to being responsible defensively
Fourth Line: This line is the opposite of the third line with grit on the wings and skill in the middle. It would shape up to be a hard working line and with Gally and RHP on the wings they would not be fun to play against.
Extras: Armia could fit in up and down the lineup on the right side. Pezzetta would be strictly bottom six on the left side but if one of the left wingers in the top 6 were injured or in a slump, Newhook or RHP could move up and Pezz could take their spot.
Not in the mix at the moment: Mike Hoffman and Rem Pitlick would be the odd men out.
Waiting in the wings: Lias Andersson, Emil Heineman, Sean Farrell, Joshua Roy
Flexibility: If a center is needed in an injury, illness or slump situation, Monahan or Newhook could step into that role and either Armia or Pezzetta could move into the lineup.
Why it won’t work
I can’t see the Habs relegating Gallagher to the 4th line and I don’t see Ylonen as a good fit on a 4th line. I also doubt that the team is willing to hand such a big role to Slafkovsky until he proves himself.
There are still lots of questions surrounding the Habs, including what could be done with the excess of players on the roster. A trade or two could result in a major shuffling of all these potential line combos so take it with a huge grain of salt.
How does your lineup shake out?