Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Who Should/Would have Taken Cally's Spot Tomorrow

In one of those score one for not having to actually face the decision moments because it appears that Ryan Callahan will be able to play tomorrow after sitting out practice this morning after taking stitches to his ankle, let's look at what could have been.  It would have been unlikely that they would have broken up the Avery-Boyle-Fedetenko line because it has been producing and the combination of Avery and Ruslan has been very effective all season virtually regardless of their center.  The main options to take the spot on the first line RW probably would have included: Frolov, Prust, White and possibly Grachev or Stepan.

Join me after the jump to take a look at the rationale for and against each of those options.

Frolov: this would be a move, maybe I should say, yet another move to try and get him going offensively and with the level both Dubinsky and Anisimov are playing at if he could get the easy opportunities their work and hustle could create it might be something could work.  Only part of the move I wouldn't like is the part that doesn't really matter in that it would be going out of your way to get a guy going because of the name on his jersey instead of the way he has played, but that's life and with a skill potential and Frolov has they probably take the risk for the potential payoff now and down the line.

Prust: Of all the candidates he has probably played the best and most consistent hockey and also would disturb the natural way the Dubinsky-Anisimov-Callahan line has played in terms of fore-check, cycle and all around tenacity.  He has also had success teaming with Artem in the past so this is probably the move I would have made as it disturbs this line, and the overall lineup the least while bringing some history and similar play to that of Callahan.

White: I have said it before and will say it again, White has no real place on this team especially not enough to carry his large cap hit around and bring down other potential options now and/or later in season.  Playing center with Dubinsky and Callahan however did see him play his most impactful hockey of the season for that period.  This was the move at practice today, but that was likely because they knew all along that Cally was going to go tomorrow, White would be scratched again, and no reason to mess with the other lines.

Now comes the interesting duo of Stepan and Grachev:
I said earlier that my problem with putting Frolov on the top line just to get him going potentially on the offensive side was that he would be getting "special" treatment because of his name and his past.  Obviously if either Stepan or Grachev went to the top line right now it would be giving them a sort of "special" treatment because of what they want either to be in the future.  In Stepan's case playing with Dubinsky and Anisimov would allow him to take off some of the pressure of being a center at this level right now and just play the game with less thought in his movements.  In Grachev's case this would be a chance for him to play with two guys whom I envision Grachev needing to play a similar game to if he wants to be successful in the NHL.  Grachev has shown a willingness to use the body and if he can develop the opportunism that Dubinsky has finally gotten to more this season can regain his confidence and standing as a big prospect for this organization.

As I said earlier I was the one who would have had to make this decision I would have gone with Prust up top and Grachev then moving up to play with Frolov and Christensen, but thankfully the decision isn't required as Callahan will play tomorrow vs the Flyers