Friends, Milan Lucic is now a free man. The Calgary Flames forward has served both games of his punching suspension, so he is now eligible to return to the lineup and is expected to suit up tonight against the New Jersey Devils.
But for Lucic to slot back in, somebody has to come out. In this Thursday edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we ask you to put on the coach’s hat – who do you bump to the press box?
The last two games
For reference, here are the lines the Flames have been rolling with over the past two games:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund – Matthew Tkachuk
Alan Quine – Derek Ryan – Sam Bennett
Tobias Rieder – Mark Jankowski – Michael Frolik
Who might get the bump?
In our eyes, there are four likely candidates to be eating popcorn while the Flames play the Devils: Quine, Rieder, Jankowski and Frolik.
Quine didn’t play a lot against Arizona – 9:57 overall with no special teams time – but he’s become a pretty useful complimentary piece for the Flames and since he’s on the third line taking him out would involve mucking around with the entire bottom six. Given the problems they’re having with general structure, you can imagine the coaching staff might prefer to keep him for continuity’s sake.
That brings us to the fourth line players.
Jankowski was a spectator fairly recently and played just 9:00 overall on Tuesday (with a team-low 4:58 of five-on-five time). The gap between his overall ice time and five-on-five usage, though, is why he might stick around. Jankowski is used a ton on special teams, in part to give the top six bodies a breather, and replacing that time would be a challenge. Plus he’s a center, and taking him out would involve bumping either Quine or Sam Bennett into a position they haven’t recently played.
Frolik (9:09 total, 6:45 five-on-five) and Rieder (8:36 total, 5:46 five-on-five) are both wingers that didn’t play a ton against Arizona. Neither has really moved the needle offensively and both would be relatively easy to swap out for Lucic. If you’re concerned by the speed downgrade involved in bringing in Lucic, keeping Rieder in the line-up may be the best bet.
What would you do?
Presuming keeping Lucic in the press box isn’t an option, who do you bump out? Jankowski? Quine? Frolik? Rieder? Or somebody else? Sound off in the comments!