2. Redo the Defensive Pairings
The defense is about to get some serious help with Dougie Hamilton and Sami Vatanen healthy again. That means its time to completely re-do the defense and see where the healthy eight defenders fall. Let’s forget about the cap space conundrum that getting everyone back and healthy is causing and focus on the pairings.
The first pairing is like Mac and Cheese. Simple, classic, never goes wrong, and always hits the spot. I’m talking about Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin. The perfect mix of offensive-defense and defensive-defense that creates another forward and make the opponents feel like they are on a penalty kill.
You simply don’t mess with that. Unless you want to add bacon.
What about the second pairing? The truth is that Haydn Fleury has improved enough that he
should be playing second-pairing minutes with Brady Skjei. I have already given this a full article, So I shouldn’t waste much space or time here rehashing what I already said, but there is your second line and I will not be taking any questions at this time.
That leaves Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Jake Gardiner, Joel Edmundson, and Sami Vatanen for the final lines. Gardiner is the only one that has really earned a spot on the roster, mistakes and all. Vatanen is still unproven and may never play a single game to avoid the clause on his trade agreement from kicking in. That leaves TVR and Edmundson, which I can easily rotate until something clicks.