98
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Who should play third line right wing?

Aside from a few pieces here and there, the Flames’ roster appears to be set.

Sure, there are still a couple of extra players hanging around, but as training camp has progressed we’ve gotten an increasingly clear picture of just who the Flames will open their season with.

The goalies look to be who we thought they were. Same for the defence.

The forwards, though? There’s still some question there.

Who is on the third line?

Conventional projections give us a first line consisting of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Micheal Ferland. The second line looks to be Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, and Michael Frolik. The third line, then, should be Kris Versteeg, Sam Bennett, and… um… somebody…?

It looks like the only forward prospect who will make this team is Mark Jankowski. Spencer Foo, while coming off of an excellent junior season in the NCAA, wasn’t quite ready to start this season in the NHL; there goes that possibility. The darkhorse candidate that was Emile Poirier – still with plenty of potential, but also someone who hasn’t played a meaningful hockey game since February – won’t start the season in the NHL, either.

So, barring a last minute waiver claim (Beau Bennett, perhaps?) or free agent signing a la Versteeg a year ago – wherefore art thou, Jaromir Jagr? – it looks like the answer will be one of Troy Brouwer, Curtis Lazar, Freddie Hamilton, Garnet Hathaway, one of the tryouts, or even Jankowski himself (with Versteeg likely shifting to the left side to accommodate for the latter options’ left shots).

Each has their own pros and cons.

While Brouwer is easily the most experienced of the group and has the best counting numbers of all available options, he also had a poor season in 2016-17 – much of which was spent with Bennett – and a bounce back season from him is far from certain (not to mention playing him alongside Bennett once again could result in a repeat of the same issues from the previous year).

Lazar was acquired with the long-term in mind, but so far, he hasn’t shown what it was about him that had Flames brass so excited. If he can get it going, then great: that’s a potential pair for years to come. If he can’t, though, then he’s just weakening a line that has two players that could really use a third complementary one to make it truly formidable.

Hamilton and Hathaway are both right shots, which is great; however, they trend more towards being 13th and 14th forward types than third line wingers.

None of the tryouts are exactly known for their offensive skill.

Jankowski may be the most intriguing bet – he certainly has offensive potential and could be a fit on that line – but the plan is already in place to play the more experienced Bennett at centre. This would push Jankowski out of his natural position down the middle, which may not be an issue at all; but if the Flames want to keep a formidable centre depth in place, could pose problems down the line.


So… how would you solve this conundrum? Who, among the most likely options, would you have on a line with Versteeg or Bennett? Or would you rather mix and match the top six to put another player (say, Tkachuk) on that line instead (in which case, who fills in on the top six)? Or would you prefer to pick someone off of waivers or sign a free agent, even if he’s 40 years old or older?

What is the ideal makeup of this team’s top nine?

  • OKG

    Versteeg should right left wing on the so-called “third line”
    Gaudreau-Bennett-Ferland
    Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik
    Monahan-Jankowski-Versteeg

    That said I see Frolik as our third best RWer, as I think Versteeg/Ferland > him.

  • Puckhead

    Trying to create competitive lines is frustrating when you’re stuck trying to find room for a couple of guys who don’t seem to fit anywhere. Hope I’m wrong in my assessment and it turns out to be a good year for bounce back and reclamation projects.

    Go πŸ”₯ Go!!!

  • BendingCorners

    We need a TBD for 3W. Can be either LW or RW since Kris plays both sides.
    Maybe the 4th line should be Matt-Mark-Freddie and then Curtis and Troy can be the spares – and can sit when players are hurt too, since we have call-ups available.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    Who should:
    Jagr
    Or
    Play a line of Bennett, Jankowski, and Versteeg. Management has spoken about having two centers on a line in the past. Jankowski and Bennett could alternate LW and C while Versteeg sits on the RW. This allows both Bennett and Jankowski to play with skilled players, and maximizes the potential for Jankowski to have success (away from grinding low-upside 4th line duty).

    What will happen:
    Brouwer

  • knappsacked

    Claim beau bennett. Think about the name of the line itself….
    Bennett x2 = bennett squared
    Bennett squared = B squared
    B squared + versteeg = kris B squared

    kris B squared = rice crispy squares.
    They could be the cruspy square line.
    Also beau has good possesion metrics

    • hulkingloooooob

      Bravo! This is the best thread we’ve had on here since the new format! No trolls in sight. And we all agree, literally anything without brouwer has great upside. What WILL happen we’ll see. Maybe the question is this: which of the three lines benefits most from having two centers? You then have either janks and backs or bennet? (Or with stage on the 4th line = not ideal)

  • Just.Visiting

    I don’t care as long as Janko is somewhere in the top nine and the team can roll three good lines. Of course, this would mean that there would be no room for Brouwer or Lazar in the top nine.

  • cberg

    No matter what we want, its most likely going to start out as Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland, Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik, Versteeg-Bennett-xxx and who knows for line 4. Unless there are injuries, they’ll give it 10-12 games to see how its going and re-evaluate from there. If the top 2 lines click and do well, as they did last year, the team will likely be wining and Bennett will have to sink or swim with either Jankowski, Lazar or Brouwer. We need to see it play out and re-evaluate the end of October. Not the best of situations but the reality for the Flames.

  • WillyWonka

    i have no doubt Brouwer will be given a legitimate shot at finding his way back to the 18-20 goal/35-40 pt guy that can play a heavy game on the opponent and win the physical battles. How long the leash is going to be is the real question. 15 games? 20? 40? i think this answer will be influenced by whether the team is able to win games games more than they lose, or struggling.

  • Hockeyfan

    we all know the 1st, that will not change for the 1st 6 games at least. IMO, Bennett centers Tkachuk and Versteeg, Backs centers Janko and Frolic, helps with the break-in of Janko, Lazar centers Stajan, Troy, Hathaway, Freddie, Glass. Lets go Flames!!!! Kick some welfare butt!!!!

  • Off the wall

    Today’s practice lines:

    FORWARDS

    Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Micheal Ferland

    Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik

    Kris Versteeg – Sam Bennett – Troy Brouwer

    Tanner Glass – Matt Stajan – Freddie Hamilton

    DEFENCE

    Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton

    TJ Brodie – Travis Hamonic

    Brett Kulak – Rasmus Andersson

    All three goaltenders were in attendance at practice. Mike Smith is slated to get the start in the Flames’ final two pre-season games.

    • McRib

      Jankowski has played in every exhibition game so far, which better be the reason he isn’t on a line today. Hahah. If the Flames also cut Jankowski I will begin to seriously doubt that they are willing to give secondary prospects a chance.

    • Oil consuming Flames

      I fixed the lines for GG!

      FORWARDS

      Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Micheal Ferland

      Mark Jankowski – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik

      Matthew Tkachuk – Sam Bennett – Kris Versteeg

      Curtis Lazar – Matt Stajan – Troy Brouwer

      DEFENCE

      Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton

      TJ Brodie – Travis Hamonic

      Brett Kulak – Michael Stone

      Scratch – Freddie Hamilton, Garnett Hathaway, Matt Bartkowski

  • We had millions of dollars (Wideman) watching the games from the press box last year. If Brouwer can’t produce this year, he sits and watches Jankowski, Lazar, Hamilton, or Hathaway play. He can’t be traded unless he waives his no movement. I smell another Smid here; waiting out the retirement years. Who’s Brouwer’s agent? Master contract architect!