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09-06-2012, 06:58 PM
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I see Pittsburgh's first line working like a Russian first line. Cain and Cooper are both skilled offensive forwards who will drive the attack, and Shuvalov plays a little more defensively. This will also allow Wilson or Halderson to activate and join the attack. I don't think they need a designated playmaker - any of the three can create offence.
Chicago's is a more conventional first line. Solid construction, good players, as long as you keep Taylor away from the bookies.

I have a lot of respect for Kuhnackl's upside. He's not a sure thing but he's a potential game breaker with his size, skill, and shot. I drafted Radek Bonk in part with him*in mind. But on further reflection I think Skrudland and Zezel will be fine against Kuhnackl - both have the physical strength and defensive play to match up against him.

Pittsburgh's plan with the third line is to have a line that's strong defensively, keeps possession, cycles the puck on offence, and can score goals. Think Ottawa's Arvedson-Bonk-Hossa line, with Eriksson in the Hossa role as the scorer. Eriksson may not be the best defensive player on the line but he has a very solid defensive reputation. He broke into the league as a checker before going on to play a scoring role. Here are some supporting quotes from Dallas sources:

Should Eriksson play with Mike Ribeiro or Jamie Benn?
Eriksson is perhaps the best player on this team, even better than Jamie Benn. He's about as well-rounded a hockey player as they come and he's easily the best two-way forward the Stars possess. It's understandable why the Stars would want to have him with Ribeiro, as his defensive ability would help the second line become more balanced while his puck possession skills would, in theory, help Ribeiro find his offense more consistently.
Player Profiles by Mike Heika of the Dallas News
Loui Eriksson is the best player on the Stars.

OK, thatís just my opinion and it comes with some qualifiers, but it speaks to just how important Eriksson is to the Stars for next season and years to come.

Yes, Eriksson still is underrated, but his run of three straight seasons of 70 or more points puts him in pretty elite company. Heís one of just*seven players in the NHL to pull off that trick (Steven Stamkos, Joe Thornton, Eric Staal, Martin St. Louis, Anze Kopitar*and Henrik Sedin are the others). And not since Mike Modanoís run of five straight 70-point seasons ended in 2004 has anyone done that for the Stars.


Whatís great about the versatile forward is he solves so many of the Starsí problems in the top six. He can play either right wing or left wing, he is the teamís most consistent offensive forward, and heís probably the teamís most consistent defensive forward, as well (checker included). That means he pretty much helps everyone. He led the team in plus-minus at plus-18, and I definitely think that means something.
Eriksson has four significant offensive seasons in his career, but he's been a strong defensive player for all six of his NHL seasons. I think he's fine on a third line at this level.

Pittsburgh's fourth line is a bit overqualified for their role in some cases, and they'll definitely see a fair bit of ice time.

Chicago's left wingers are a good group of players, but they are generally more skilled, offensive players. Especially Stillman, Brunette, and Vail. Pittsburgh is generating a lot of their offence from the right side - does Chicago have the defensive play on the LW to limit that?

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