I know there has been much debate this offseason on which prospects will make the team? Which new acquistion will work best with Staal? Who is Kaberle going to play with? Pretty much what are the lines and pairings going to look like? We all have our ideas as what is going to happen and what we would like to see. This FanPost is about what we think would be the best lines and defensive pairings will be. I'll share my thoughts and would love to see your ideas. Based on previous seasons, the preseason so far, and potential; here is what I think the lines should look like.
1st Line - Poni / Staal / Dalpe
I know a lot of people would question starting Dalpe, a rookie, on the 1st line; but I really believe he would be the best option. Of course there are going to be growing pains, but I think Dalpe could have a 20 goal, 20 assist season this year. IMO, all 3 of these players can score some goals and isn't that the point of your 1st line. Poni is a big body that will crash the net and has shown some pretty good hands in the preseason. Maybe he will return to Toronto form and be a 20 goal scorer. Staal is more of a scorer than passer, but I believe a lot of that has to do with who he played with. Having Dalpe's scoring ability and Poni crowding the net; I think Staal could be a 90 point player this year. Dalpe would add another scorer to this line and his speed would compliment Staal's. I'm not saying it will happen; but 90 points from Staal and 50 from Poni & Dalpe would not suprise me.
2nd Line - Skinner / Jussi / Ruutu
I know most people would have Ruutu at center on this line, but I don't see why. Jussi has been over 50% in the circle for the last 5 seasons and this team NEEDS some faceoff help. I really don't understand why Jussi wasn't put there last year. Putting Ruutu back on the right side could also allow him to be a little more aggressive with the forecheck. It has been said that Skinner has added more strength this offseason, it will be interesting to see if he can take his game to the next level or if he is going to experience a sophomore slump. He won't be surprising people like he did last year, but I think he avoid any major setback. This line worked well together at the end of last season, so let's keep a good thing going. Each of these guys should reach the 50+ point mark and IMO, Skinner & Jussi could go 60+ pretty easily.
3rd Line - Tlusty / Sutter / Stewart
What a change from last season? This 3rd line would actually have a little size going for it. It's not overly big, but compared to some lines last year; it would gigantic. Sutter has the skill to be a really good two-way center. He can shut down opposing top lines and he can score some goals. His biggest hurdle is who lines up besides him. If Tlusty can finally break through, we have a skilled forward that is solidly built and knows how to put the puck in the net. Stewart is a nice size and has potential to be a really good player. Time will only tell with him, but if he gets it going this could be a nice 3rd line. You have guys here that are willing to throw their bodies around. If they can discover some chemistry & find the offensive switch; watch out. Isn't it said; the best defense is a good offense? This group has potential to quickly turn the tables on opposing 1st lines and make them play in their own end.
4th Line - LaRose / Brent / Dwyer
This is what I think a 4th line should look like! All 3 players will be important members of the PK and they will also provide that energy/agitation the team sometimes needs. LaRose & Dwyer can also step up a line if needed and they have pretty decent speed. Brent is a good faceoff man and if he plays like he did last season in the RBC Center (2 games, 2 goals, 2 assists); he's in for a monster year. Seriously, if this is our 4th line, then I am pretty happy. These guys are going to set the world on fire, but 15 points out of each and them performing their roles will be just what the doctor ordered.
1st Pairing - Pitkanen / Gleason
This first pairing has been used in a couple of preseason games and in theory should work. Pitkanen as the offensive defenseman and Gleason as the defensive defenseman. I don't remember these two working well together in the past, but I sure hope it works this season. Pits is an unbelievable skater, is a pretty good passer, and really does have a nice shot (when he actually uses it). Gleason is the heart of this defense; he's willing to do whatever is needed. If he can return to form, we might be eyeing the playoffs this year. Gleason also has a decent shot , but is also rarely used. Both players have a little mean streak and this MIGHT end up being our shutdown unit. This pairing should have good balance, except both players are left shots; let's just hope they develop some chemistry together.
2nd Pairing - Kaberle / McBain
This pairing could be offensively magic together, but the defensive side scares me. Kaberle is a very good passing defenseman and McBain has a good shot. Neither is a defensive juggarnaut and either will be pushing around opposing forwards too much. If McBain can take what he learn in his first full season and translate it, he should become a pretty good all-around defenseman. Kaberle should help McBain learn a few things and he is pretty good at moving the puck, so that should help. I really think the forwards are going to have to help out a little more when this pairing is on the ice, but time will tell. Again, this could be a dynamo offensive defensive pairing.
3rd Pairing - Allen / Joslin
Some might put Harrison here instead of Joslin and I wouldn't argue too much. I do think Joslin has a higher ceiling and he should be able to contribute more offensively. I'm really interested to see what Joslin will develop into. I think he could become a solid #4 with offensive abilities and toughness. Of course he could be a 6th or 7th defenseman; it will be an interesting year. Allen is what he is; a big, solid defenseman. He's not going to do anything spectacular, but I just want him to be the guy you really don't notice. I think this will be a solid 3rd pairing; contributing a little every once in a while, but probably just a group that roles out there 13 to 16 minutes a night.