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Neal and Niskanen for Goligoski

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Old
02-22-2011, 03:42 PM
  #651
Dread Pirate Roberts
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Originally Posted by MtlPenFan View Post
I mean a lot of it depends on who else they pick up (if anyone) in the summer to fill in the role of scoring winger for whoever doesn't play with Neal, but I STILL don't get this messianic resistance to Malkin playing wing.
Because it sucks?

1. Malkin looks different when he plays winger. He doesn't use the whole ice in the neutral and attacking zone. What's bad for Malkin's offensive game is bad for Malkin, and bad for the team.

2. Malkin on the wing means that Neal or Tangradi are going to end up on Sid's line, which is a waste of perfectly good winger (see: Staal-Crosby and Malone-Crosby experiments). Crosby + Power Forward doesn't work.

3. Malkin on the wing means that teams only have to worry about two lines. Cooke-Staal-Kennedy is good for ~40 ES goals a year and a lot of long offensive-zone shifts. Cooke-Letestu-Kennedy is a middling third line. Any top 6 with Crosby and Malkin is special, so why not keep the best third line in hockey together as well?

All of the reasons for Staalkin seem to revolve around what's good for Staal. IMO, what's good for the team and what's good for Malkin are both more important considerations.

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02-22-2011, 03:44 PM
  #652
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It's all about through the neutral zone for me. Malkin skating along the boards and Staal lumbering through the middle of the ice is just stupid and makes no sense if you're trying to get the most out of your players, and yes that WAS how it went down in the brief period they tried this. Once Staal dumped the puck in from the middle of the ice and it was Malkin's responsibility to go get it. That right there is completely asinine.

When people run out of excuses for it they resort to "it doesn't matter where they play." Well if it doesn't matter then put Malkin at center because hey, it doesn't matter.

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02-22-2011, 03:49 PM
  #653
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Malkin is worth about $5M/year cap hit playing wing.

He's worth every penny of the $8.7M/cap hit when playing center with decent non-AHL calibre linemates.

I'm all about trading him if we put him back at wing - it's a complete waste. Might as well just trade him.

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02-22-2011, 03:59 PM
  #654
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There really should be no talk of either trading Malkin or moving him to wing permanently. We traded for James Neal so that we didn't have to have this debate any longer (or so I thought).

As I've said before, we need to know if Letestu and Jeffrey (and to a lesser extent Veilleux) can play wing. Because none of them come close to giving us what Sid, Geno, Jordan provide down the middle. That should be the mentality.

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02-22-2011, 04:01 PM
  #655
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderratedBrooks44 View Post
When people run out of excuses for it they resort to "it doesn't matter where they play." Well if it doesn't matter then put Malkin at center because hey, it doesn't matter.
And again I challenge anyone who believes that you can't use the whole ice as a winger to explain the dominance of Jagr, AO, Kovalchuk, Martin St. Louis, Marleau, Hejduk, Hossa, Bure, Naslund, Bondra, Alfredsson, Mogilny... I can go on and on and on...

Skilled players can play any fwd position and excel. Period.

Despite what spew on here, Malkin created his best chances this season playing on Crosby's wing.

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02-22-2011, 04:01 PM
  #656
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Originally Posted by Shady Machine View Post
I guess what I don't get is why don't we just move Staal to wing then for people that want the Staalkin thing to happen. Staal is hardly better at faceoffs and had scored over 20 on the wing his rookie season with Malkin (I'm intentionally not including the 7 shorty's). I get that Staal is awesome defensively but Malkin has that ability to shown when he led the team in takeaways. I just think to say we are going to cater to Staal and even Letestu by keeping them at their natural positions over Malkin is absolutely ridiculous. I can accept first priority is Crosby, but it has to Malkin after that.
Because Malkin's a hundred times more dynamic and while not technically bigger, much stronger on the boards and best suited for the switch if the two of them play together.

I think the whole fuss is a lot of ingrained excuse making for Geno not being himself for a while now. The fact is, it's been pointed out many times that during his past two "average" seasons he's been slated at center for the most part. I get the crap winger sentiments and while valid, his Conn Smythe run had guys like Fedetenko and Talbot playing with him. If he'd been playing at that level (or near it) the past two seasons, they wouldn't have dared move him over to wing.

The fact is, and people need to come to terms with it, the move to have them play together was as much to get Geno going as it was to develop Staal offensively. This was an organizational decision, from DB to Shero and probably all the way up to Mario.

If Neal plays with Sid, Kunitz probably gets moved to Geno's line with Staal and this team suddenly has one of the better one/two punches in the league. I can really live with a "lesser" third line (that would still probably involve 2/3 of our current vision of it in Cooke and Kennedy no matter who plays center) and we fill in the rest with whoever's left.

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02-22-2011, 04:20 PM
  #657
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Originally Posted by Mr Jiggyfly View Post
And again I challenge anyone who believes that you can't use the whole ice as a winger to explain the dominance of Jagr, AO, Kovalchuk, Martin St. Louis, Marleau, Hejduk, Hossa, Bure, Naslund, Bondra, Alfredsson, Mogilny... I can go on and on and on...

Skilled players can play any fwd position and excel. Period.

Despite what spew on here, Malkin created his best chances this season playing on Crosby's wing.
Not just skilled. DYNAMIC, and there's a difference between the two. Just going on last night's game for example...

Say you were a casual hockey fan that understood the simple premise of who plays where when you're slated as LW/RW/C etc...

If you were watching Ovechkin last night but had no idea what position was "natural" to him, would you have had any idea where.he's slotted? No, because he's all over the place because he's that type of player who can freelance with the best of them.

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02-22-2011, 04:20 PM
  #658
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Originally Posted by Mr Jiggyfly View Post
And again I challenge anyone who believes that you can't use the whole ice as a winger to explain the dominance of Jagr, AO, Kovalchuk, Martin St. Louis, Marleau, Hejduk, Hossa, Bure, Naslund, Bondra, Alfredsson, Mogilny... I can go on and on and on...

Skilled players can play any fwd position and excel. Period.

Despite what spew on here, Malkin created his best chances this season playing on Crosby's wing.
Yeah, but all of those guys you listed, Jiggy, are NATURAL wingers. Save for Patrick Marleau, who in my opinion was born to play wing anyway. And Marleau is to Malkin as Lloyd Bentsen was to Jack Kennedy.

And Malkin created his best chances this season playing with Crosby? Really? Fancy that. He created the most chances playing next to the best player in the game. How was he playing RW next to Mike Comrie or Mark Letestu?

If Geno has a James Neal on his left wing, then there is absolutely no need for him to play wing. He can become the real Evgeni Malkin again.

If the organization wants Neal to play with Sid, then having Kunitz next to Geno is also a very positive start. If somehow next year, Sid winds up playing with both Kunitz AND Neal, with one of them converting to the right side, then CLEARLY this organization does NOT have Geno's best interests at heart.

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Old
02-22-2011, 04:24 PM
  #659
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Originally Posted by Jag68Sid87 View Post
There really should be no talk of either trading Malkin or moving him to wing permanently. We traded for James Neal so that we didn't have to have this debate any longer (or so I thought).

As I've said before, we need to know if Letestu and Jeffrey (and to a lesser extent Veilleux) can play wing. Because none of them come close to giving us what Sid, Geno, Jordan provide down the middle. That should be the mentality.
This is my mentality. I regardless of whether Malkin gets Kunitz or Neal, does not matter to me as long as its the move effective combination. Assuming Tangradi is ready for the role we hope he can fill next season then we are still going to need a plugger some where. Or if we can't then we have two spots to fill...

Kunitz / Neal - Crosby - ?
Neal / Kunitz - Malkin - Tangradi / ?

Next season, assuming Jeffrey is still around (hopefully he is) I think both him and Letestu have to be given shots on wing to see if they can cut it.

Because even if the cap goes up a full 3M, we still have a market to battle in. We realistically will be able to pick up 1 winger in the market, 2 is a stretch. So we will still need one player to step up from within.

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Old
02-22-2011, 04:25 PM
  #660
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Just a heads up, Neal will be on NHL Power Play here in the next few minutes.

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02-22-2011, 04:30 PM
  #661
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Jiggyfly View Post
And again I challenge anyone who believes that you can't use the whole ice as a winger to explain the dominance of Jagr, AO, Kovalchuk, Martin St. Louis, Marleau, Hejduk, Hossa, Bure, Naslund, Bondra, Alfredsson, Mogilny... I can go on and on and on...

Skilled players can play any fwd position and excel. Period.

Despite what spew on here, Malkin created his best chances this season playing on Crosby's wing.
Bingo. Geno realizes that he can be just as effective on the wing as he can at center. Only people resistant to it are the fans

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Old
02-22-2011, 04:42 PM
  #662
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If it's Neal/Kunitz-Staal-Malkin then yeah you have a point. Random sucky player-Staal-Malkin? No, put him at center. Of course even in the first example it still takes more advantage of him to play center. Staal playing center instead of Malkin on a line that's relied on to score many goals simply doesn't make sense. Of course now we're back to the "it doesn't matter" argument, which frankly just isn't true. If it was they would all just be called forwards with no distinction.

There certainly are examples of centers moving to wing and not dropping off their production. The thing is they're of the Marleau/Thornton/Heatley variety. Staal is not a talented enough offensive player to offset this position change.

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Old
02-22-2011, 04:52 PM
  #663
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Originally Posted by HuskerTornado View Post
Just a heads up, Neal will be on NHL Power Play here in the next few minutes.
Details?

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Old
02-22-2011, 05:02 PM
  #664
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James Neal on PowerPlay in review:

He was shocked by the trade news, really liked Dallas, but ready to move to a great hockey town and great team in Pittsburgh. He said he didn't hear much about a possible trade, so the call from his agent was a real surprise.

He can't wait to play with the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby when he gets healthy. He said he's never met Crosby, though. Hasn't really had a chance yet to talk to anyone off the ice yet.

He said that Gary Roberts talked to him (he trains with him), and had nothing but great things to say about Pittsburgh and the Penguins organization.

He's happy to have a good friend in Niskanen to travel with, saying that Nisky is also really eager for a fresh start. Their flights were delayed last night, had to stay over in Jersey over night, finally arrived in Pittsburgh at noon today.

Neal said that Bylsma told him he'd start by playing with Staal and Kennedy tomorrow night.

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02-22-2011, 05:03 PM
  #665
Mr Jiggyfly
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Originally Posted by Jag68Sid87 View Post
Yeah, but all of those guys you listed, Jiggy, are NATURAL wingers. Save for Patrick Marleau, who in my opinion was born to play wing anyway. And Marleau is to Malkin as Lloyd Bentsen was to Jack Kennedy.
I can quickly glance over that list and 9 of those guys could have played center just as well as wing.

Lemieux played LW in '96 on that great line with Francis and Jagr and he dominated.

It isn't the position, it is the skillset.

Great players create no matter where they are lined up.

This argument is lame and old and I've debunked it countless times and the only argument I get is about Malkin needing to get into his gallop from his own end.

****ing retarded. And I'm not going off on you Jags, just saying this argument is idiotic and I wish people would understand that fwd positions don't matter for elite players like Malkin.

Quote:
And Malkin created his best chances this season playing with Crosby? Really? Fancy that. He created the most chances playing next to the best player in the game. How was he playing RW next to Mike Comrie or Mark Letestu?
Doesn't matter if Crosby is the best player in the world - it shows he can create playing at wing.

Crazy enough, Crosby had tons of glorious chances with Geno dishing him the puck from wing... where he is obviously stuck on that pesky right side.

And when Geno played with Letestu and Comrie he was in total spazz mode, trying to do it all himself... which he did when he was moved back to the pivot as well.

Give him skilled players and he will excel at any fwd position.

Quote:
If Geno has a James Neal on his left wing, then there is absolutely no need for him to play wing. He can become the real Evgeni Malkin again.

If the organization wants Neal to play with Sid, then having Kunitz next to Geno is also a very positive start. If somehow next year, Sid winds up playing with both Kunitz AND Neal, with one of them converting to the right side, then CLEARLY this organization does NOT have Geno's best interests at heart.
That is dandy and all, but I am starting to see Staal develop more now with an expanded role. Anyone who denies that isn't paying attention.

So lets put him back as the third pivot where he will go back to being a great checking line center, who never reaches his full potential.

Can't say I like that idea.

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02-22-2011, 05:09 PM
  #666
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Originally Posted by Mr Jiggyfly View Post
That is dandy and all, but I am starting to see Staal develop more now with an expanded role. Anyone who denies that isn't paying attention.

So lets put him back as the third pivot where he will go back to being a great checking line center, who never reaches his full potential.

Can't say I like that idea.
This is where I'm really concerned. I really like what Staal has done and accomplished recently. I can really see a lot of strides in his game especially his playmaking and passing, and playing with Neal is only going to help that. I don't like the idea of making him a straight checking line center again either.

Also, I still think what we should do is make it Neal-Crosby-FA/Jeffrey, Kunitz-Staal-Malkin because that line to me would be a ***** to play against defensively with Malkin lurking in the neutral zone, Kunitz hitting everything that moves, and Staal able to shadow the best offensive players in the game. And its not liek they won't be able to score. That has serious potential to be a Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom type of line in my opinion.

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02-22-2011, 05:16 PM
  #667
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This is where I'm really concerned. I really like what Staal has done and accomplished recently. I can really see a lot of strides in his game especially his playmaking and passing, and playing with Neal is only going to help that. I don't like the idea of making him a straight checking line center again either.

Also, I still think what we should do is make it Neal-Crosby-FA/Jeffrey, Kunitz-Staal-Malkin because that line to me would be a ***** to play against defensively with Malkin lurking in the neutral zone, Kunitz hitting everything that moves, and Staal able to shadow the best offensive players in the game. And its not liek they won't be able to score. That has serious potential to be a Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom type of line in my opinion.
It is a great concern and of the two, Malkin can move seamlessly to wing and Staal struggles there.

People are just hung up on the whole "big three" silliness.

Jeffrey can take over as the third pivot and be very productive and I am 100% sure we won't see a major drop off. Jeffrey is smart and rangy, just like Staal, and he will manufacture points also, despite who he plays with.

Then you have Jeffrey where he should be, Staal getting the minutes he needs to develop, and Malkin playing with quality linemates.

Given this team assets you build out from this:

Crosby
Staal Malkin
Jeffrey

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02-22-2011, 05:18 PM
  #668
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Originally Posted by Mr Jiggyfly View Post
It is a great concern and of the two, Malkin can move seamlessly to wing and Staal struggles there.

People are just hung up on the whole "big three" silliness.

Jeffrey can take over as the third pivot and be very productive and I am 100% sure we won't see a major drop off. Jeffrey is smart and rangy, just like Staal, and he will manufacture points also, despite who he plays with.

Then you have Jeffrey where he should be, Stall getting the minutes he needs to develop, and Malkin playing with quality linemates.

Given this team assets you build out from this:

Crosby
Staal Malkin
Jeffrey
I agree 100%....Either Jeffrey or Letestu on that 3rd line. I said Jeffrey for the top line before possibly but I think I like your idea better.

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02-22-2011, 05:22 PM
  #669
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If Malkin goes to wing, I hope it's with Crosby. This is dependent on Neal finding chemistry with Staal. I'm actually curious how those two big guys will look playing with each other. I think they could really cause problems for the opposing teams and if Letestu and Jeffrey get back we could have some semblance of depth to possibly win games in the playoffs.

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02-22-2011, 05:49 PM
  #670
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02-22-2011, 05:54 PM
  #671
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Originally Posted by Mr Jiggyfly View Post
That is dandy and all, but I am starting to see Staal develop more now with an expanded role. Anyone who denies that isn't paying attention.

So lets put him back as the third pivot where he will go back to being a great checking line center, who never reaches his full potential.

Can't say I like that idea.
then playing the devil's advocate,why experimenting? trade Staal for a RW and play a Neal-Malkin-trade line. that sounds to me like the real deal right away,no need to wait and see how it would pan out...

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02-22-2011, 05:54 PM
  #672
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I still think this sounds scary:

Neal-Crosby-
Staal-Malkin

And I typically HATE the idea of Malkin playing wing. Fill in those two spots with Kunitz and either a FA/Tangradi/Jeffrey.

I also love how people make like Crosby has had all these studs to play with. Just because Malkin has had worse doesn't mean Crosby has been blessed with talent on his wings his whole career. I think its all dependent on fit, if Crosby and Neal works thats fine. If Geno and Neal works thats fine. We now have options, which we couldn't say a day ago.

Just down right scary....

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02-22-2011, 05:55 PM
  #673
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I really would like to see the Pens make an attempt to pick up a right handed RW this offseason. It doesn't have to be anyone great. Or at least maybe try to pry Booth away from Florida. If the Pens can get a RHS that can skate with Sid, then the 3C model makes a lot of sense. Just for arguement's sake....

Kunitz-Crosby-Higgins
Neal-Malkin-Jeffrey
Tangradi-Staal-TK
Cooke-Letestu-Johnson

I think those line combos play to the strenghts of the three top centers, it saves some cap space, and it provides a good situation for DJ, Tangradi, and Johnson to develop

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02-22-2011, 05:59 PM
  #674
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I know I have given my 2 cents on the matter many times before, but I will preface this by saying, with the addition of Neal, I'd be much more inclined to put Staal on the 3rd line with Cooke and Kennedy. That being said, here are the main reasons why I would like Jordan Staal as the 2nd line center...

1.) Economic Sense: Jordan Staal playing 2nd line center put him on the 2nd line where it makes the most sense economically. If he were to play 2nd line center, we would have one top 6 forward position to fill rather than two, and that would mean we would be able to fill that one top 6 slot with a better player since we can spend more month on them. We'll say the cap is going to go to 61.5 million (so reports I have heard said...)

Scenario 1: Staal 2C
Kunitz (3.75) - Crosby (8.7) - Free Agent
Neal (2.875) - Staal (4.0) - Malkin (8.7)
Cooke (1.8) - Letestu (0.625) - Kennedy (~0.900)
Vitale (0.500) - Jeffrey (0.500) - Adams (0.600)

Letang (3.5) - Orpik (3.75)
Martin (5.0) - Michalek (4.0)
Niskanen (1.5) - Engelland (.550)
Lovejoy (0.550)

Fleury (5.0)
Johnson (0.600)

Total: 57.4
Cap Space: 4.1 for one top 6 winger

Scenario 2: Staal 3C
Kunitz (3.75) - Crosby (8.7) - Free Agent
Neal (2.875) - Malkin (8.7)- Free Agent
Cooke (1.8) - Staal (4.0) - Kennedy (~0.900)
Vitale (0.500) - Letestu (0.625) - Jeffrey (0.500)

Letang (3.5) - Orpik (3.75)
Martin (5.0) - Michalek (4.0)
Niskanen (1.5) - Engelland (.550)
Lovejoy (0.550)

Fleury (5.0)
Johnson (0.600)

Total: 56.8
Cap Space: 4.70 for two top 6 wingers (2.35 per)
Odds are that 1 winger we'd get for 3.5-4.0m would out produce the two wingers we could get for 2.35m per. The same people who want the 3 big guys down the middle are typically the same guys who want pluggers off the top 2 lines. Well guess what...with 2.35...you're getting pluggers back in your top 6.

2.) The maturation of Jordan Staal: Jordan Staal, as we all know, is an accomplished two way player, but what is really missing from his game is that offensive dynamic. Staal has never really played with what one would consider "top six" linemates, and that might be what we need to get Staal going. If we could get 7-10 more goals out of Staal, that would be absolutely gigantic, not just for the team, but for a player who has even said himself that he has a fragile confidence. You get Staal going offensively and the complexion of this entire team changes. He isn't just a rangy guy anymore, he'd be one of the hardest centers in the league to contain. I look across the country and I see Ryan Kesler, and to think we could have one of those on our hands and we don't even know it is frightening. Staal being on the top 6 would also pretty much ensure that he's on the 1st powerplay unit, which is where I think he should be.

3.) Letestu: I think that the 3rd line with Letestu would be just as capable as the 3rd line with Staal. Letestu has proven himself this season, he deserves the minutes, and though someone brought up his contract as to why he can't, it's not about that for me - it's why he shouldn't. You can bury a guy who is making 0.625 on the 4th line and not worry. The problem is, you're not getting the most out of him doing that. I think Letestu has some very serious potential as an offensive weapon in this league. He's so heady that it makes you wonder how he didn't get to the big time sooner. He deserves his shot, and if you're taking the cost benefit analysis, you're not losing much of anything bumping Staal up and putting Letestu up (some would contend you are, which I'll refute in the next point). Only downside of this scenario is that Letestu is a little small to play a defensive role, but I think his strength for his size is outstanding.

4.) Strategy: People contend that Geno is better at center so that he can get the puck down low and carry it through the neutral zone. I get that. That's how it was done in the past. That is NOT how it is done here now though. Much of the time with this defense that we have, they are carrying the mail or they are firing long passes to our wingers. The days of the center getting the puck down low and carrying it are, for the most part, over. We don't have anti-offensive defense such as Gill, Scuderi, or Eaton (though he wasn't bad). The strategy has changed.

With this new strategy, that opens a ton up for Geno with this defense. With Staal playing center, Geno can cheat. Now some won't like Geno "cheating" but I will say this...the more you get that guy one-on-one the better. The best part of a Neal-Staal-Geno line...Neal can probably cheat up ice too since Staal can essentially shut down an entire blueline by himself. What does that mean? Numbers. Now some won't know what that means, but when you play offense, the greatest words you ever hear being shouted from your bench is , "NUMBERS!," meaning...you have an odd man break. I think that line will see a ton of those situations, and with a playmaker like Geno and finisher like Neal...lethal. Not mentioning, Jordan Staal trailing the play late. I like that a lot.

I will also say, if Geno plays 2C, we will need to find a winger that can take faceoffs since he is beyond bad at them, which really limits the options we can attain for him. So not only does Shero need to find a winger who can take faceoffs, but he also needs to find that winger for 2.35 million. Unless Shero has a 7-leaf clover up his ass, I don't see that ever happening. Call me pessimistic though.

5.) Conclusion: Putting Staal on the 2nd line and on the 1st powerplay, there's a very real possibility that he can bump up his numbers. Neal playing on that line where he and Geno could feast on some odd man breaks, he would probably increase his numbers a bit. Letestu playing with Cooke and Kennedy v. Rupp and Adams...I could without a question see him getting better numbers. I think this lineup change could easily net us 10-12 more goals, with a very real potential of having more. This scenario leaves our team with a very balanced attack on all 4 lines, and I really wouldn't see that great of a weakness. People will say, "well the 3 center strategy won us a Cup." I agree, it did, but I don't see how that changes playing Staal on the 2nd line and Letestu on the 3rd. People pimped Letestu for so long, and I never believed it. Well, I'm a believer.

All of this being said, the great thing about hockey is, if it doesn't work...change it back. I think people get so hung up on little things. If Staal sucks with Geno...move him to the 3C slot. It's so easy, and it can happen in game. People are knocking the idea before it has even been tried. Let's be serious, the 3 big guns on this team have only played 2 games together, and of those two games, no one was right physical, mentally, or a combo of physically and mentally. Geno has played wing this season, but he never played wing with top 6 personnel like he would with Staal and Neal. Geno was also very obviously nursing some sort of injury, which limited his effectiveness. Those who say Geno can't play wing, I watched him do it in international tournaments and with Sidney Crosby. He looked fantastic. People say that Geno will get trapped along the board. I say false. Geno will get trapped along the boards if he quits moving his feet, which...he has never done. People say that Geno flat out can't be as dynamic on the wing (which I can't believe anyone could say). Offensively see: Gaborik, Kovalchuk, Marleau, Heatley, Kane, and on, and on, and on, and on. Defensively see: Hossa, Parise, Zetterberg...the players that can be named are endless. The "he can't be dynamic" argument should be an automatic ban. Fact is...Geno will be dynamic regardless of where he plays. He knows that. That's why he was so open to the move to wing. The only thing stopping Geno from being the player we saw a couple years ago is not his position...it's Geno himself.

So there you have it...my 20 cents.

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02-22-2011, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by JTG32005 View Post
I know I have given my 2 cents on the matter many times before, but I will preface this by saying, with the addition of Neal, I'd be much more inclined to put Staal on the 3rd line with Cooke and Kennedy. That being said, here are the main reasons why I would like Jordan Staal as the 2nd line center...

1.) Economic Sense: Jordan Staal playing 2nd line center put him on the 2nd line where it makes the most sense economically. If he were to play 2nd line center, we would have one top 6 forward position to fill rather than two, and that would mean we would be able to fill that one top 6 slot with a better player since we can spend more month on them. We'll say the cap is going to go to 61.5 million (so reports I have heard said...)

Scenario 1: Staal 2C
Kunitz (3.75) - Crosby (8.7) - Free Agent
Neal (2.875) - Staal (4.0) - Malkin (8.7)
Cooke (1.8) - Letestu (0.625) - Kennedy (~0.900)
Vitale (0.500) - Jeffrey (0.500) - Adams (0.600)

Letang (3.5) - Orpik (3.75)
Martin (5.0) - Michalek (4.0)
Niskanen (1.5) - Engelland (.550)
Lovejoy (0.550)

Fleury (5.0)
Johnson (0.600)

Total: 57.4
Cap Space: 4.1 for one top 6 winger

Scenario 2: Staal 3C
Kunitz (3.75) - Crosby (8.7) - Free Agent
Neal (2.875) - Malkin (8.7)- Free Agent
Cooke (1.8) - Staal (4.0) - Kennedy (~0.900)
Vitale (0.500) - Letestu (0.625) - Jeffrey (0.500)

Letang (3.5) - Orpik (3.75)
Martin (5.0) - Michalek (4.0)
Niskanen (1.5) - Engelland (.550)
Lovejoy (0.550)

Fleury (5.0)
Johnson (0.600)

Total: 56.8
Cap Space: 4.70 for two top 6 wingers (2.35 per)
Odds are that 1 winger we'd get for 3.5-4.0m would out produce the two wingers we could get for 2.35m per. The same people who want the 3 big guys down the middle are typically the same guys who want pluggers off the top 2 lines. Well guess what...with 2.35...you're getting pluggers back in your top 6.

2.) The maturation of Jordan Staal: Jordan Staal, as we all know, is an accomplished two way player, but what is really missing from his game is that offensive dynamic. Staal has never really played with what one would consider "top six" linemates, and that might be what we need to get Staal going. If we could get 7-10 more goals out of Staal, that would be absolutely gigantic, not just for the team, but for a player who has even said himself that he has a fragile confidence. You get Staal going offensively and the complexion of this entire team changes. He isn't just a rangy guy anymore, he'd be one of the hardest centers in the league to contain. I look across the country and I see Ryan Kesler, and to think we could have one of those on our hands and we don't even know it is frightening. Staal being on the top 6 would also pretty much ensure that he's on the 1st powerplay unit, which is where I think he should be.

3.) Letestu: I think that the 3rd line with Letestu would be just as capable as the 3rd line with Staal. Letestu has proven himself this season, he deserves the minutes, and though someone brought up his contract as to why he can't, it's not about that for me - it's why he shouldn't. You can bury a guy who is making 0.625 on the 4th line and not worry. The problem is, you're not getting the most out of him doing that. I think Letestu has some very serious potential as an offensive weapon in this league. He's so heady that it makes you wonder how he didn't get to the big time sooner. He deserves his shot, and if you're taking the cost benefit analysis, you're not losing much of anything bumping Staal up and putting Letestu up (some would contend you are, which I'll refute in the next point). Only downside of this scenario is that Letestu is a little small to play a defensive role, but I think his strength for his size is outstanding.

4.) Strategy: People contend that Geno is better at center so that he can get the puck down low and carry it through the neutral zone. I get that. That's how it was done in the past. That is NOT how it is done here now though. Much of the time with this defense that we have, they are carrying the mail or they are firing long passes to our wingers. The days of the center getting the puck down low and carrying it are, for the most part, over. We don't have anti-offensive defense such as Gill, Scuderi, or Eaton (though he wasn't bad). The strategy has changed.

With this new strategy, that opens a ton up for Geno with this defense. With Staal playing center, Geno can cheat. Now some won't like Geno "cheating" but I will say this...the more you get that guy one-on-one the better. The best part of a Neal-Staal-Geno line...Neal can probably cheat up ice too since Staal can essentially shut down an entire blueline by himself. What does that mean? Numbers. Now some won't know what that means, but when you play offense, the greatest words you ever hear being shouted from your bench is , "NUMBERS!," meaning...you have an odd man break. I think that line will see a ton of those situations, and with a playmaker like Geno and finisher like Neal...lethal.

I will also say, if Geno plays 2C, we will need to find a winger that can take faceoffs since he is beyond bad at them, which really limits the options we can attain for him. So not only does Shero need to find a winger who can take faceoffs, but he also needs to find that winger for 2.35 million. Unless Shero has a 7-leaf clover up his ass, I don't see that ever happening. Call me pessimistic though.

5.) Conclusion: Putting Staal on the 2nd line and on the 1st powerplay, there's a very real possibility that he can bump up his numbers. Neal playing on that line where he and Geno could feast on some odd man breaks, he would probably increase his numbers a bit. Letestu playing with Cooke and Kennedy v. Rupp and Adams...I could without a question see him getting better numbers. I think this lineup change could easily net us 10-12 more goals, with a very real potential of having more. This scenario leaves our team with a very balanced attack on all 4 lines, and I really wouldn't see that great of a weakness. People will say, "well the 3 center strategy won us a Cup." I agree, it did, but I don't see how that changes playing Staal on the 2nd line and Letestu on the 3rd. People pimped Letestu for so long, and I never believed it. Well, I'm a believer.

All of this being said, the great thing about hockey is, if it doesn't work...change it back. I think people get so hung up on little things. If Staal sucks with Geno...move him to the 3C slot. It's so easy, and it can happen in game. People are knocking the idea before it has even been tried. Let's be serious, the 3 big guns on this team have only played 2 games together, and of those two games, no one was right physical, mentally, or a combo of physically and mentally. Geno has played wing this season, but he never played wing with top 6 personnel like he would with Staal and Neal. Geno was also very obviously nursing some sort of injury, which limited his effectiveness. Those who say Geno can't play wing, I watched him do it in international tournaments and with Sidney Crosby. He looked fantastic. People say that Geno will get trapped along the board. I say false. Geno will get trapped along the boards if he quits moving his feet, which...he has never done. People say that Geno flat out can't be as dynamic on the wing (which I can't believe anyone could say). Offensively see: Gaborik, Kovalchuk, Marleau, Heatley, Kane, and on, and on, and on, and on. Defensively see: Hossa, Parise, Zetterberg...the players that can be named are endless. The "he can't be dynamic" argument should be an automatic ban. Fact is...Geno will be dynamic regardless of where he plays. He knows that. That's why he was so open to the move to wing. The only thing stopping Geno from being the player we saw a couple years ago is not his position...it's Geno himself.

So there you have it...my 20 cents.
Overall solid post.

IMO, if we are doing the Staalkin experiment, I want Neal with Crosby and instead of Neal with Geno and Staal, I'd insert Kunitz or Tangradi.

Neal-Crosby-FA/Tangradi/Jeffrey
Kunitz-Staal-Malkin

One thing to remember: One of the last games I remember Geno being himself was against Ottawa where he scored a hat-trick and a few assists. Kunitz and Guerin were his wingers that night and Sid played with Kennedy and I want to say Talbot. If I recall correctly, the lines were either re-done to kick start Sid, who was ice cold at the time, or it was due to an injury.

The idea that Kunitz and Malkin don't work is completely false. They really haven't been tried that much together and Kunitz's game fits well with most any wingers. I just don't buy it TBH.

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