In light of Patrick Dwyer’s injury, a door has opened for other players to move up in the line up and possibly earn a spot there. Players like Jeff Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu, Elias Lindholm and Radek Dvorak all have a chance to play their way into the top six.
Let’s take a look at what these players can give to the defensive minded second line with Jordan Staal and Nathan Gerbe.
Jeff Skinner has had a terrific start to the season. He is scoring at a point per game pace through nine games and has statistically been the best scoring forward thus far. He has done this with a variety of line mates thus far, at that.
He has played with Elias Lindholm, Radek Dvorak, Tuomo Ruutu and Riley Nash, to name a few. Skinner would bring more offense to the second line, and that is something that the second line could really use. I’m not sure if Kirk Muller would want to try this though. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” applies here.
Skinner has been very good on the third line, and it may not be the best move to switch it up. It may be worth a try though. We will see if this line gets a look by Kirk Muller.
Tuomo Ruutu, who recently returned from injury, is another option for the second line. Tuomo Ruutu provides a physical game along with potential for some offense. Ruutu seems to have been a pretty good fit on the third line, but bringing him up to line two may not be bad.
Ruutu played well with Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer late last year, and that kind of play can be attained again. Ruutu would bring more physicality than any of the other options.
Elias Lindholm is the biggest long shot of the group. Lindholm is coming off injury and will likely start on the fourth line then move up to the third line.
Lindholm is a very good play maker and is good in his own zone. I don’t like Lindholm as much here, because I feel like a scorer, like Jeff Skinner, or an experienced defensive player, like Dvorak, would be a better fit.
It could also be dangerous to put him out against top line players, being that he is only eight teen years old, and he could be overwhelmed by the task.
Radek Dvorak has already been playing with the second line in practice this week, and he will likely start there on Thursday. Radek Dvorak is a good fit because of his ability to play very strong defense.
Dvorak has a lot of experience and that would be good for that line. He also has the ability to score at times.
The knock on Dvorak is that he may not be able to play the big minutes that the second line would demand. He is thirty-six years old and he doesn’t have the legs he used to have.
Radek Dvorak will likely start on Jordan Staal’s line, but it is possible that someone can play their way into that role.