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01-28-2011, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Originally Posted by
I think people have a serious misconception about what 1st and 2nd line players are.
Sure, you have the center-piece of the lines, the guy that will make the plays and finish them. The Pleks and Cammy.
But why do you think we spent half the year with Moen or Darche on our top 2 lines? It's not so much a 'lack of depth' because nearly every team has 1-2 pf these kind of less talented guys playing on the top 6 (well ok Moen should never have been there for so long!). Hell, even the Flyers that have an incredible offensive depth have Carcillo playing on the wing of Richards, and if you decided who should be on the top 2 lines and who should be on the bottom 2, you would never put them in the same group.
The thing is, very few teams can put 6 talented guys all together on their top 2 lines, not only because they lack the talent to do it but also because it doesn't always work. You don't need 3 guys of the same type on a line, you also need guys who will drive the net and win board battles. Kinda like how Burrows had such a good time with the Sedins, but he would have been classified as 3rd line material too.
What I see in Leblanc personally is exactly this : a gritty forward with above-average skill (for his play-style). Not elite skill, not top 6 forward goal-scorer or play-maker skill. But top 6 forward gritty skill, yes. He's a guy that can win board battles, drive the net (and that's one thing he's clearly not afraid to do and that we SERIOUSLY lack in the team right now) and create opportunities, with enough skill to actually finish a play or make a nice pass when the occasion is there. It won't be his primary responsability, and his actual production will depend a lot imo on who is on his line. He won't make a line, but he can COMPLETE a top 6 line (likely 2nd line, because usually you have enough skill to make a real #1 all-talent line, but if you have 2 other guys that have high enough skill he could complete it too).
If he's on the 3rd line, I believe he will be an elite 3rd-liner, kinda like what you see in Pouliot right now that he's playing there regularly, a guy that will manage to produce a lot for the ice time he has. The comparison to Pouliot is kinda weird though because to me they are perfect opposite : Pouliot is a guy who has 1st line skill but a total lack of grit and competitiveness that makes him drop lines. Leblanc is third line skill (although top notch for a 3rd line) that will play higher because he has the grit and competitiveness. Basically, a Darche with more talent.
So bottom line for me is: he'll likely play on our 2nd line to complete it after 1-2 years in the league (he still has to fill his frame a lot for the type of game he plays at the NHL level and will have to adjust to the speed, etc.), or if he plays on the 3rd he will still produce a pretty good amount (and people will complain that he should get higher ice time, etc... I kinda hope that he doesn't play too long on the 3rd just to save the headache).
Ofc it's still pretty early in his career and a lot can change, but from everything I saw from him up to now (which is quite a few games) + what I read about him, this is the image I have from him. And when people say '3rd-line material', I really think they need to distinguish 3rd-line talent vs 3rd-line player. Talent is not the only thing that can raise you to the top 2 lines, where you can actually produce simply by playing with more skilled players if you create opportunities for them.
And now I'm just rambling.
Yes you are rambling. The kid is 19. No one can guess where he'll end up. However, 'skilled 3rd line guy' is a crap result in the first round for players who make it. Crap. We simply do not need that type of player, period.
If the Habs actually drafted Leblanc thinking he''d be a skilled third line guy, then the entire management and drafting team should be fired. You DO NOT go for anything but 1-4 D and 1-6 forwards in the first round. If LL ends up on the third line, then he is a bust.
Again though, this is silly, we shall see. But no one should be satisfied with LL ending up on line 3. I'd be REALLY pissed off if that becomes the case.
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