PP Unit 1 PP Unit 2
Grier Miller Jagr Lang Zubrus Semin
Gonchar Halpern Gonchar Bondra
PK Unit 1 PK Unit 2
Zubrus Grier Halpern Bondra
Witt Eminger Doig Kwiatkowski
Here are my questions.....
Does Jeff Halpern have the offensive chops to carry playing both with Jagr and play the point on the power play. He does give Jagr some face off advantage and is willing to be physical and fight for the puck.
Which of these lines is the most dangerous offensively?
Can the Caps survive Joel Kwiatkowski playing with Gonchar?
Can Eminger handle being matched with the other team's top line without the help of a purpose built checking line up front?
Does the Caps 2nd power play unit look more dangerous than he 1st one?
Halpern should not be playing on the top lines. Remember the season before last when he was horrible? That was because he made a misguided attempt to change his game and become an offensive player. Halpern actually produces more when he concentrates on his defensive game. Therefore he shouldn't play anywhere above the third line.
Halpern doesn't have nearly enough playmaker or finishing skills to play with Jagr. Why play Halpern with Jagr when you can use Jagr's talent better by playing Zubrus with him?
Halpern did score 18 goals and 20 goals in his first two seasons. Those are pretty strong numbers when a players gets little of any pp time and has never played with the top offensive players on his team. His 3rd year was marred by the hold out, the season ending knee injury and that he played almost zero games with his constant playing partner, Konowalchuk. Last year he had 13 and Cassidy will tell you that he wasn't fully recovered from his knee surgery yet. This is not Trent Whitfield we are talking about. I am not convinced that he has the ability to be a top line center, but I also realize that he is an elite in terms of offense from a defensive line. Its also fair to keep in mind that this is his 5th NHL season. Sometimes it seems like he has been here a lot time, but its only been 4 seasons.
Halpern has two seasons with 18+ goals, Zubrus has zero.
Not belittling Zubrus, as I do think he's poised for a very good season, more to praise Halpern, who I think is a bit underrated offensively. Hopefully, with his wheels back 100%, his speed will return and he'll get more offensive chances. I don't think it's completely ridiculous for him to center Jagr, though I'll admit I was surprised by it.
I also won't be surprised if one or two of the names that are vying for a spot on the club are moved soon. I've seen two or three articles alluding to the Caps in trade talks with team, though it should be noted that there has been no mention of which teams. The constants I've seen are Washington trying to package some 'fringe players' for a steady defenseman. I have a feeling that it's going to take more than 'fringe players' to get a steady defenseman.
The articles have been in the Post and the Times, IIRC, but I'm too lazy to look them up right now.
And agreed, I'd love to see Sutherby get some Top 3 lines-type minutes.
I just think of it this way (hoping at least): Jagr may do better with a center that doesn't hold on to the puck as much as, say, Nylander. He had his best years with Miller and Jan Hrdina in Pittsburgh. Halpern IMO is fairly similar to Hrdina, although Jan is a better passer than Halpie is. But they are both defensively responsible guys that can put the puck in the net and set Jags up too.
Zubrus and Jagr also worked well together for a time, so I wouldn't rule out that possibility.
Lang and Jagr don't mix well. I don't know why, but they were rarely linemates in pittsburgh. they tried it on and off last year and it didn't really fly. You would think that a great closer on the Jagr line would be great to have, but Bondra never skates with Jagr except in desperate times.