With players like Tim Gleason, Anton Khudobin and Elias Lindholm returning to the lineup as soon as this week, and Tuomo Ruutu still bouncing around the lineup, it’s fair to ask, what happens to the Hurricanes lineup?
Tim Gleason is expected to return to the lineup on either Thursday or Friday on the short Western Conference swing. There are a couple defensemen that could come out of the lineup for him. Mike Komisarek, who played in place of Brett Bellemore on Saturday in New York, would be the most likely player to come out of the line up for Tim Gleason. This seems like the best option considering Mike Komisaerk has handled the seventh defenseman role very well so far.
Other options would be Jay Harrison and Ryan Murphy. I don’t see Jay Harrison leaving the lineup now. His play has slowly improved through the early year, even though I thought his play was shaky in the first few games. Ryan Murphy brings a completely different style of play. Murphy brings speed and offense to the blue line, so I don’t see him leaving the lineup. His spot on the blue line is still not, by any means, a lock throughout the rest of the season. Murphy also brings the option for Jim Rutherford to send him down and bring him up at his leisure without the risk of him being claimed on waivers.
Brett Bellemore falls in a weird situation. If he was to be sent to Charlotte, he would have to go through waivers. I’m fairly certain someone would pick Bellemore up considering his cheap salary. So I’m not sure if Jim Rutherford would want to risk it, so I’d expect them to run eight defensemen, for the time being. If Gleason returns and looks like the old Tim Gleason, who plays shut down defense, hits and blocks shots, It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the fringe defensemen are either traded or sent down with the risk of that player being claimed.
Anton Khudobin returns soon as well. The only roster move that would be made is sending Justin Peters back to Charlotte. It will be nice to have Anton Khudobin back. He played very well before his injury, and it was like having two starting goalies. It should be even better now, as it appears Cam Ward has found his game.
Elias Lindholm will likely be back Thursday night. He will probably practice this week with Jeff Skinner and one of Pat Dwyer, Radek Dvorak and Tuomo Ruutu, depending on where Tuomo Ruutu stays in the lineup. It’s also possible Lindholm starts on the fourth line to get back into his groove. This means a player will have to leave the lineup. It will likely be Brett Sutter or Drayson Bowman. These are both fourth line players, but I’d expect Brett Sutter to get the door here.
Tuomo Ruutu has bounced around the lineup since his return. He has played on every line, and has yet to stick with one of them. It’s difficult to put Ruutu on the fourth line, because a player like Ruutu needs to see more ice time than that. You can’t put him on the first line, because he tried to do too much when he played with them. He didn’t play his game, and now that the first line has started to heat up, you don’t want to break that up.
So that leaves either the second or third line. I’d like to see him fit in with the Jordan Staal line. He played well with Jordan last year, and Ruutu brings more offense than Pat Dwyer to that line, and they need more offense on that line. The third line is also a good option. Ruutu has played well with Skinner in his career, going back to the “Skins and Fins” line.