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04-09-2012, 05:52 PM
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3rd Lines

Graves-Stanfield-Hyland vs. Hadfield-Weiland-Bondra

First off, the resemblances in how these two lines were built is striking. Two tough LW Ranger fan favorites, two two-way playmaking Bruins' centers, and two spunky goalscoring RWs who are among the best offensive players on any 3rd line.

Graves and Hadfield are two crash and bang LWs that will play bodyguard, work in the corners, and in front of the net for these lines. In terms of offensive production, Hadfield's numbers look a bit better. But, he spent about 10 years playing LW for Ratelle and Rod Gilbert, and was only able to muster one really big season of 2nd in goals and 4th in points. That season is definitely better than Graves' one big season of 5th in goals. But, when you think about it, I'm not sure how effective Hadfield is going to be. He was only able to muster decent offense playing alongside two ATD first liners, and will be playing with much worse linemates in Weiland and Bondra. Graves did play with Messier, but it wasn't during Messier's prime, and he didn't do it for 10 years like Hadfield did. Graves also played a lot more in a defensive role, limiting his ability to produce offense. Here is how their voting records look:


Graves: 2
Hadfield: 2, 3, 5


Graves: 8
Hadfield: 5


Graves: 5, 5, 9

Now, the Selke didn't exist during the vast majority of Hadfield's career, but as far as I know his defensive reputation is non-existent, so it's not like he would have received any votes anyway. I'm surprised at how good Hadfield's all star voting looks, but it appears that he competed in an extremely weak era for LW depth. His competition was basically Bobby Hull, Bucyk, and Mahovlich, then a huge drop. If an offensive advantage exists here(I'm not sure it does when you consider linemates), I'll give the slightest of advantages to Hadfield.

Even with Hadfield's possible advantage in offense, I think Graves' defensive reputation more than makes him the better player. He was three times voted top 9 for the Selke, including first, second, and second among LW. Three seasons as one of the two best defensive LWs in the NHL is much more than Hadfield has defensively, who is basically a non-factor. With this, I think Graves takes the advantage over Hadfield as an overall player.

Now on to the playmaking centers. Another similarity is that they both benefited from having strong linemates. Both were the 2nd best players on their line, with Stanfield behind Bucyk and Weiland behind Clapper(when he was a forward). Weiland is by far the better goal scorer, but Stanfield was probably the better playmaker. 4x Top 7(4, 6, 7, 7) during the late 60s and early 70s is definitely better than 3x Top 7(3, 6, 7) in the late 20s and early 30s. Weiland gets the advantage in goal scoring, Stanfield in playmaking. In terms of overall offense, Weiland has the best one year out of the two where he led the league in goals and points. But, Weiland comes out as the better overall offensive player because Stanfield is so assists-biased.

Defensively, both are solid players. If an advantage exists, it's probably a small one for Weiland. Physically, Stanfield has the advantage. He was known for leading the line of muckers, and was willing to play physically when need be, compared to the relatively tiny Weiland. Overall, Weiland is the better player.

On the right wings, there are two of the best 3rd line snipers in the ATD. Hyland is a great goal scorer, but he's not as good as Bondra, who has six top 8 finishes in goals, including two first place finishes. The problem with Bondra is that he's heavily goal biased. He's so goal biased that even though he led the league in goals twice, he never had a top 10 finish in points, with his top finishes being 11th and 18th. I see a bit of an issue with too much goal scoring on this Winnipeg 3rd line. Bondra benefited a lot from the play of Michal Pivonka, who was very playmaking biased, fitting Bondra's talents. Weiland, on the other hand, doesn't have those playmaking credentials. He was a pretty good playmaker, but I'm not sure if he was good enough to maximize the effectiveness of Bondra.

Bondra brings a bit of a two-way game and a PK threat. Hyland doesn't really bring anything except offense. Bondra is probably the better overall player.

Overall, Winnipeg's 3rd line is better offensively and Philadelphia's is better defensively. In terms of overall effectiveness, a slight advantage to Winnipeg probably exists.

In terms of defensive ability, I'd rank the players:

Graves/Weiland(pretty close)

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