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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Jankowski up, Jagr out, Bennett on the wing: Let’s talk Flames lines

Jaromir Jagr has been placed on injured reserve, expected to be out for a week with a lower body injury. Mark Jankowski has been recalled in his stead, expected to start by centring Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar.

Let’s talk possibilities.

The Flames play three games this week: a back-to-back set in Nashville and St. Louis, and then at home, hosting Dallas. If all goes well, Jagr will be back in time to play Washington on Oct. 29 (and, if you were worried about the whole breaking-Gordie-Howe’s-record thing, he’ll still have 20 games of leeway for this season).

In the meantime, Jankowski is present, and the lines look as such:

Gaudreau Monahan Ferland
Tkachuk Backlund Frolik
Bennett Jankowski Lazar
Versteeg Stajan Brouwer

Freddie Hamilton and Tanner Glass sit as extras.

From that group, it’s difficult to tell which line, exactly, is the fourth one. I would suggest the Matt Stajan one, if only because they may want Jankowski to get some meaningful minutes in; however, both he and Lazar have been healthy scratches so far this season, so it’s all rather up in the air – especially as these lines could change within like, one shift, so.

(Side note: that Stajan line would have been one of the Flames’ top lines a couple of years ago. Look at how things change!)

Right now, Micheal Ferland is getting another shot at the top line. He’s had promise in that role over some games the past couple of seasons, but hasn’t been able to make it stick. And so far, Jagr has looked like the better option. He will not, however, be the long-term option – well, probably not, but everything is possible in this life – and Ferland has a better shot at it.

Alternatively, maybe the possibility of a Gaudreau – Monahan – Bennett line will come about. It’s a combination that has never been used meaningfully, but has been theorized on a fair bit, especially amid questions of whether Bennett really should be playing down the middle or on the wing.

Remember: even with the disappointment surrounding Bennett’s career to date, he’s still been more productive offensively than Ferland has.

There are a ton of other potential swaps – Ferland to Stajan’s line, where he’s had success; Kris Versteeg for Lazar, which could give Jankowski a skilled veteran boost – but the future of who will be the top line right wing after Jagr is a little more intriguing than that.

Then, there’s the matter of what happens once Jagr returns. Somebody will have to go down – and, if Jankowski impresses, it may not be him. That would likely be the optimal scenario, but it would also be the hardest one.

The player demoted in Jankowski’s place would almost certainly be Hamilton or Glass. Following that, I could see Lazar and Stajan taking turns centring the fourth line, while Jankowski claims the third line spot and Bennett continues to bolster the wing position. Down the stretch the Flames could end up using a lineup something like:

Gaudreau Monahan Jagr
Tkachuk Backlund Frolik
Bennett Jankowski Versteeg
Ferland Lazar/Stajan Brouwer

Allowing for other interpretations, maybe Bennett and Jagr switch spots, or Ferland and Versteeg, or both, but there are a number of options that make sense.

Which, you know – if Jankowski makes it impossible for the Flames to send him back down, and if Bennett finds his game on the wing, then the lineup that much better. Jagr’s injury could be a blessing in disguise if it’s what gets a deserving Jankowski in the NHL full time.

And if it does, those are 13 forwards who can all handle a regular shift.

So here’s to a smooth Jagr recovery. Here’s to Jankowski showing what he’s made of. Here’s to Bennett finding the right situation here. Because if all three of those things happen, then the lineup just got that much better.

  • MWflames

    I honestly don’t think those 3 things are that far-fetched. I think janko will look like a better centre than Bennet has. I think Bennet will be good on the wing…

    To all the people freaking out about not developing Bennet as a centre… There are too many centres on this team, at least one has to slide over. May as well be the guy struggling at centre to move. Also, I’d say confidence is way more important to Bennet right now than squeezing every minute at the centre position. If he pots a few from the wing, he’ll start having fun again

    • Carl the tooth

      Bennett s been decent on draws ….. I think seems like he’s been Winning his share .pretty sure Jankowski was decent on draws in preseason? With the face off infractions it doesn’t hurt to have two centres to take draws .

      • MWflames

        Well I think your reading my comment wrong… I was talking specifically about the centre position which janko has proven to be adept at at the pro level. bennett has struggled significantly there over his 1.1 years. Yes I do recognize that nhl is very different than the ahl. But its a matter of do the little things that centres need to do. One is showing he can do them, the other is not, generally speaking… I did not infer that I thought janko is the better player… But I suppose we will be able to talk about that very soon

  • deantheraven

    I posted this on the Jankowki Saviour line:

    JM+Money+Jags/ Ferly

    3M

    Benny+Janko+ Jagr/Ferly

    Over the weeks between now and April we could see:
    Steeger/Klimmer+Lazer/Staj/F. Ham+ /Hathaway/
    Or course, the rest of the post goes into how awesome it would be to lose Glass, Tanner and Brouwer (by some miracle) to make space for some call ups.
    Wouldn’t it be swell?

  • DMac

    I like the young line with Bennett, Janko and Lazar. Yeah, we drafted #93 as a centre, but most of his success has been on the wing. The last couple games Lazar has played, he has been involved on the forecheck, good contact but snake bit around the net. And Jankowski will hopefully and finally get a shot. Hope there is early chemistry and we get a chance to judge not only on a single game but several in a row. When Jags comes back, the difficult decision will be between Hamilton and Glass and who gets waived.

  • hulkingloooooob

    Easy!

    Your pairs:
    JG SM
    MB MF
    MJ KV/CL

    Floaters:
    Sam
    Ferry
    Chucky

    Rotate till a fine chemistry develops. Serve hot and ready with a side of top notch goaltending and defensive prowess.

  • Parallex

    If Jankowski impresses (and realistically that means he pots some goals & apples… strong two-way play and corsi unfortunately won’t rate I feel) then when Jagr returns I’d go with this…

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Jagr
    Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik
    Bennett-Jankowski-Versteeg
    Ferland-Stajan-Brouwer

    … realistically they aren’t going to press box Brouwer (as much as we’d like it so) or Stajan so someone cheap is heading to Stockton and once Jagr comes back Ferland becomes the “toughness” (delightfully of the functional variety) and Glass serves no purpose.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    “Mark Jankowski has been recalled in his stead, expected to start by centring Sam Bennett and Curtis Lazar.”

    Oh please Jobu let this work. And even if it doesn’t pay off immediately please keep it as a thing for a couple of games so we can see.

  • BendingCorners

    Assuming GG puts him into the lineup on Tuesday, Ferland-Jankowski-Versteeg gets my vote. I think they would play well together. That leaves a fourth line of some combination of Bennett, Lazar, Freddie, Brouwer and Stajan, with one of them sitting and another one taking a turn with Johnny and Mony. I wouldn’t touch the 3M line just yet since Jagr should be back in only a week. If Bennett plays well on the PP and in limited 4th line minutes, he can be promoted upward later. When Jagr returns, Glass to Stockton please.

  • BendingCorners

    Heretical thought: Brouwer has been more involved in the games lately, checking hard and getting back, and assisting on Mony’s goal the other night. For three games, maybe he can go with Johnny and Mony, and keep the fourth line young? If it really looks bad, Lazar, Bennett and Ferland can all take a turn instead.

  • Rexx

    LW Depth doesn’t look bad at all with Bennett slotted in there. Sucks to see Versteeg on the fourth line, but for now it gives a sneak peak of what a team can do with an actual functional fourth line.

    All the best, Janko! Give ’em hell, kid!

    • Puckhead

      The beauty with Versteeg is that he’s great value for the money and can slot in anywhere up or down the line. He’s a great 4th line player where he’s still good value on the dollar.

  • OYYC

    First off, props to Ryan. Only he and Rotowire were reporting that Jagr was on injured reserve. None of the major media outlets picked up the news yesterday.

    Now that Jankowski is up, that 3C job is his to lose. I sure hope GG plays him there in all 3 games, and Janko has at least one very good game where sending him back is not an option. But for 3 games you’ve got multiple players with something to prove. Ferland, Bennett, Jankowski, Lazar, Stajan should all be playing with a chip on their shoulder.

    If GG keeps that lineup together for 3 games I’ll be impressed. About the only swap out would be Freddie for Stajan. Glass sure isn’t going to take Versteeg’s spot. I’m actually excited to see the next 3 games – no Janko as a saviour talk – but let’s see if he gives the team a kick in the shorts which leads to something productive.

    • Skylardog

      Not a saviour, but it just feels like the forwards got a whole lot better today.

      For some reason, it even feels like Bennett’s game improved today as well.

      • OYYC

        Agree. Some of the pressure on Bennett’s shoulders gets thrown Jankowski’s way. Janko is older, and doesn’t seem to panic out there in the games I’ve seen him in. The game slows down the game when he has the puck.

        Hopefully Bennett and Lazar can get to digging in the corners to make an effective line. If that line gets a goal in the next couple of games, then all 3 player’s confidence should skyrocket.

    • BendingCorners

      Flames’ bottom six will become quite good in Jankowski plays well and stays up (no guarantee that one results in the other but we live in hope). Versteeg, Ferland, Jankowski, Bennett, Lazar plus one of Stajan Hamilton Brouwer should sort quite well into two effective lines. Hathaway and Mangiapane as callup options in case of injury put the Flames in a good spot if they are willing to play the younger guys ahead of some veterans.

      • OYYC

        Actually pretty impressed that GG has healthy scratched Stajan twice already this season. It shows that his bias towards playing the veterans isn’t set in stone.

        Brouwer has been getting better as well with every game. Never really thought I’d say that, but it is true. He’s not a bad penalty killer, and is playing with more urgency this year. Having a 4.5 million dollar man on your 4th line is hardly ideal, but he’s a decent enough 4th liner for right now at least.

        • Atomic Clown

          If Brouwer was getting paid $2-$2.5 million, and only in the bottom 6, the fan base wouldn’t mind him at all. Case and point, stone. Stone is a tad bit overpaid, but he does his job reasonably alright in his role, an as such isn’t lamented.

          • Puckhead

            Agreed. However, It could be argued that Stone is standing in the way of some of our young defensive prospects. Once guys like Stajan, Bart, Brouwer etc. are shed from the payroll Stone’s number will come up. It seems like there’s always a whipping boy. In all honesty, I would gift his spot to Ras tomorrow if it was my choice to make.

  • Stajanforadirtyboot

    First of all the only “line” Stajan should have is a line to fetch a hot dog and Diet Coke from the closest concession to the press box.
    Janko, Lazar, Freddie, Tim Hunters left boot > Stajan

  • Off the wall

    I know we are all excited for Jankowski. It’s about ‘frikin time.

    From now on I’m saying whatever the he££ I want. No filter. Don’t care if you don’t like it.

    Jagr has an injury. Lower body. Hmm, interesting. Didn’t look to serious to me. Maybe he’s tired of GG already. Probably doesn’t want 1st line minutes at his age.
    He didn’t come here to play 18-20 minutes a game. What the he££ is wrong with slick hair Gully?

    I don’t know why everyone thinks Jagr should be on the 1st line. He can’t sustain that amount of ice time over the season. He 45, not 25.

    He should be playing 3rd line minutes. Also, should be on our 3rd line. Why would you put him on the 1st line when he’ll need to be substituted with someone else throughout the game.
    Good gawd, I’m surprised we haven’t talken any penalties for too many men. The musical chair routine has to stop.

    3rd line minutes is ample time for Jagr. He’ll also get PP time.

    If GG were smart (and he isn’t) but I digress, he would have 4 decent lines with Jankowski here.

    Gaudreau- Monahan- Bennett
    Tkachuk- Backlund- Frolik
    Versteeg- Jankowski- Jagr
    Ferland – Stajan/ Lazar- Brouwer

    Jankowski gets to play with veterans. It will only enhance his game.

    Ferland can bump up to 1st line if Bennett poos the bed. I doubt Bennett will.

    More balanced and you have 4 pretty decent lines IMO.

    Will GG try this? Of course not, he’s still combing and gelling his hair for our next game.

    • Skylardog

      I like those line, but right now I would switch Lazar for Bennett.
      I have been saying Steeg-Janko-Jagr for a couple of weeks. A sniper with the two guys that cycle well, and veterans!

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      If you are moving any young player to the top line, let it be Tkachuk. He’s the player that draws the ire of the opposing team, so he will take attention away from Monahan and Johnny. Besides, he able to hold onto the puck and create plays himself. With Jagr in, I would like to see:

      Johnny-Monahan-Tkachuk
      Bennett-Backlund-Frolik
      Versteeg-Janko-Jagr
      Ferland-Lazar-Brouwer

      It gives you 3 lines that can score, one that can forecheck like crazy. 3 lines that can shut down other teams and one line that has elite playmaking, but can also hold possession. Sadly, there is no room for Matty, Glass and Freddie.

  • dontcryWOLF

    Nobody has a clue if janko’ s skills will hold up in the NHL yet.

    I’m all for giving him a shot. And of course I hope this works out…but nobody has seen enough of him at the level of hockey he’s about to jump into (preseason doesn’t count). I think expectations need to be tempered until real proof has been provided.

    • Puckhead

      Janko is the only prospect who has been properly grooomed. The likelihood of him not making a positive impact are very low. He is low risk, has a professional mindset, and I wouldn’t bet against him.

      • Oil consuming Flames

        Jankowski was developed well and is now being called up when he’s ripe and ready. Maybe had the guy picked first in that same draft year had been handled more like Jankowski, he wouldn’t have struggled so long in the NHL before finally starting to find his game. Hopefully Bennett doesn’t share that same fate.