I don't really think this one is too hard. It's going to be Laich. The big question is the RIGHT wing on that 2nd line.
The problem with making Laich a winger is it means making Perrault an every day center. That means the Caps would have two lines centered by smallish, defensively inept guys who can't win faceoffs - those are two lines you're not going to be putting out in defensive situations if you can help it. That puts a huge strain on Beagle to carry the load defensively, and forces the Backstrom line to pick up a lot of the slack, which does not sound like a recipe for success.
Of course, if we could pick up a defensively responsible 4C then I'd be all for it. There aren't a lot of good options left though.
The problem with making Laich a winger is it means making Perrault an every day center. That means the Caps would have two lines centered by smallish, defensively inept guys who can't win faceoffs - those are two lines you're not going to be putting out in defensive situations if you can help it.
MJ = 3C? MP = wing?
Ovechkin-Ribeiro-Perreault = Russian Roulette Line, offensive zone face offs only
Then one of BL/MJ is indeed 3C with some defensive abilities.
It seems many prefer a guy to be out of position instead of on the wrong line. From a development stand point which is more damaging (if at all) to MJ, be at 2LW, or at 3C?
Many seem to have a knee jerk reaction to moving him to 3C that its horrible for his development. But I seem to be in the minority perhaps, that its also not good to be a young center get eaten up along the boards. While facing pressure to be a scoring winger. Crippling the offense on the way.
Certainly give him a few games with Rib and see if they have chemistry; we are desperate for a winger for 2, but do pull the plug if he looks like the playoffs redo. I think deep down we all know MJ is a better center than wing, and Laich a better wing than center. MJ having a midseason sophomore slump at C is no reason to move him to wing for the next season.
Laich Nick Ovi
WW Ribs Brouwer
Chim MJ Ward
MJ gets his playoff level 4TOI PP to keep working on his skills and rack up points. He will be a part of the offense. But have big fast wingers to work the boards for him. I think he and Chimera have done well before. If WW flunks, re-evaluate.
Now that Semin is gone I feel that the plan is to go with the roster they have and depending where the team is at the trade deadline, adding a top 6 rental winger. I don't see any changes being made till then, unless of couse the team really struggles.