The Flames’ trade deadline saw them pick up two extra bodies without shipping any out, which is, of course, always going to raise questions about the lineup.
Chris Stewart and Nick Shore both fill needs in that they’re right shots; Shore, doubly so, because he’s a centre of some defensive talent.
Common sense may have dictated both would play on the bottom six to start, but between Micheal Ferland’s injury and I guess Sam Bennett’s Sam-Bennett-ness, Glen Gulutzan found room to play Stewart on the first line and then, later, on the second, so that went right out the window. I wanted to assume that we could count on the 3M line to stay intact and some combination of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Ferland or Bennett on the top line but… maybe we can’t?
Alright, let’s start this over. There’s no longer a roster limit imposed on teams, so the Flames may carry as many players as they so wish, within limits of the four-player recall rule.
For healthy forwards, they have: Gaudreau, Monahan, Bennett, Tkachuk, Backlund, Frolik, Brouwer, Jankowski, Hathaway, Stajan, Lazar, Glass, Stewart, and Shore (presuming Shore is ready to play by tonight’s game).
Unhealthy forwards consist of Ferland, Versteeg, and Hrivik. Ferland could be back sooner rather than later, Kris Versteeg still has a couple of weeks to go in all likelihood, and Marek Hrivik’s status has not been particularly well-publicized, so there’s even less of a timetable for his return.
That puts the Flames at 14 forwards they may dress in a game at present time, meaning at least two forward healthy scratches. That number will go up as the injured bodies return to health, meaning, presuming full health, five forward healthy scratches.
That does leave some debate for as to who could be healthy scratched through the final games of the season. Matt Stajan and Curtis Lazar have been two of the most frequently healthy scratched forwards this season, and it seems unlikely Tanner Glass draws in for many games, so there are, perhaps, your most likely candidates.
Who slots in where?
Everything about Shore screams “fourth line centre” for this team, a role that has been Stajan’s for most of the season. With Stajan a candidate to healthy scratch – or to at least be moved over to the wing – it seems as though Shore’s place in the lineup is set.
For everyone else, though? Not so much. The bottom six is more cluttered than ever, and willing Stewart to play in a top six role won’t change that. You have to think that, once Ferland is back to health, at least two of him, Bennett, and Stewart will be in the bottom six, depending on both recovery times and player ability as the games draw out. You also have to think that there’s no way Stewart or Brouwer get scratched, and it seems unlikely Hathaway joins anyone in the press box, either: three right shots for two right wing spots.
To the best of my ability, here’s a guess at what could happen:
With everyone healthy, Hathaway got pushed out. There isn’t much place for Stajan or Lazar, either, and Glass is a non-starter. When it comes to Hrivik, there’s even less room.
In the meantime, with both Ferland and Versteeg unavailable, that does create room for Hathaway and one of Stajan or Lazar (probably Stajan, as he consistently gets more ice time).
This is all very confusing
I’m sorry. I didn’t expect Stewart to play a top six role last night. I don’t know why he was there. I don’t understand the logic behind it and therefore I can’t reasonably predict if he’ll be back there again. I am confused, hence this is a confused what would you do article set up. Send help, or at least, comment with your ideal lineups.