FanPost

Tlusty on the first line?

Tlusty has good size, he's defensively responsible, he's an excellent passer and he's got a good, quick shot. Tlusty has been climbing up the ranks of Canes in goals and assists scored per 60 minutes. He's near the top in shooting percentage at 16%. Staal thrives on speed and at times has looked good with Boychuk for that reason. Tlusty doesn't look as fast as Boychuk but he is faster than Samsonov or Jokinen and bigger than Boychuk or LaRose. Tlusty has played well on other lines but maybe he's emerging as the best bird-in-the-hand way to upgrade the top line.

It's easy to visualize Tlusty hitting Cole and Staal with breakout passes to start the rush as well as setting up Staal both on the rush and in other situations. It's just as easy to see Tlusty in the slot taking a pass from Staal behind the net and putting a quick wrist shot in the back of the net. 

Chad LaRose is a fast, talented player who thrives in some roles, but he is not playing on the first line because of scoring prowess. He has a low shooting percentage and so he's not much of a threat himself, making it easier for the opposition to double-team Staal. LaRose is not a playmaker either - he can't be setting up Staal often because LaRose has only got 11 assists on the season, which ranks him 11th on the team. That's pretty shocking for a guy who's gotten to play a lot on scoring lines and specifically with Staal. LaRose is a superior defensive player at this stage to some potential Staal linemates. It's fair to say that most of LaRose's strengths would fit better on other lines.

There's certainly a case for playing Jokinen on the top line--he is a playmaker and has an excellent shooting percentage too--but he doesn't have the kind of speed ideal for keeping up with Staal and Cole. That may limit the line in some ways even though Jokinen helps the line in others.

Assuming Jokinen and Carter come back soon, these lines might look reasonable for now:

Staal - Tlusty - Cole

Ruutu - Skinner - Jokinen

Sutter - Samsonov - LaRose

Carter - Dwyer - Bodie

 

In a couple of weeks, things could look better (in my opinion):

Staal - Tlusty - Cole

Ruutu - Skinner - Jokinen

Sutter - Boychuk -Dalpe

Carter - LaRose/Dwyer - Bodie

The top line would have good size, speed and scoring talent across the board. The Sutter line would have tremendous speed, great offensive potential from players who have played together, and, with Dalpe, reasonable size. I realize Sutter's defensive role but hate to see his offensive potential go to waste and that's a risk with some of the other potential linemates. If the third line has to be composed of primarily defensive players, you could move LaRose or Dwyer up and Dalpe down. I do see that Tlusty's combination of size, defensive responsibility and offensive talent works as well for Sutter as it might for Staal. This post is motivated primarily by the feeling that Staal is getting shortchanged in current line assignments and the Canes are getting shortchanged as a result.

Barring a trade and assuming Mo's line lotto doesn't render talk of lines pointless, what is the Canes' best option now at left wing on the top line?

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