Jason, how many times do I have to tell you…stop trying to find your way back to Columbus.
Ansar Khan shares some insight into the line matchups as well as defense pairings that Uncle Mike intends to use for the upcoming intersquad scrimmages, and while it’s dangerous to use these preliminary lines as gospel, it does answer some questions and provide some interesting fodder.
It seems that Todd Bertuzzi is penciled in as a top six forward – joining Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary on a line, while Franzen, Datsyuk and Holmstrom make up Line 1A. Val Filppula maintains his de-facto third line center position, and Darren Helm is patrol what amounts to a platoon for fourth line time.
The squad is dividing among three “teams” which will alternate pre-season games and play one another in inter-Red Wing scrimmages.
Without further ado, the top nine:
Franzen — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Zetterberg — Cleary
Leino — Filppula — Jason Williams [2 Finns and The Goat?]
The fourth line is where things get a little murky. The regulars are mixed in with some guys that should be viewed as top call-up nominees.
Ritola — Helm — Jeremy Williams
D. Axelsson — Abdelkader — Maltby
Mursak — Draper — Eaves
Helm is Babcock’s choice to center the fourth line. Draper and Maltby will definitely be ON the team, leaving Eaves as the quote-unquote “odd man out” without a home during these weeks. Justin Abdelkader knows he’s heading to Grand Rapids, joining Axelsson, Mursak, and the King J Williams II.
Lots of faith in Tomas Tatar, as he’s playing with a more established group of professionals than most other draft picks.
Tatar — Newbury — Pare
Vigilante — Emmerton — Tardiff
McGrath — Lemieux — Ryno
Johnston — Callahan — Nestrasil
Ferraro — Coetzee
Raedeke — Fyten
Ryan Oulahen is injured.
The defense corps see a veteran placed with a youngster, more or less, and provide a nice glimpse into who the braintrust foresee as eventual leaders on the blueline:
Lidstrom — Kindl
Rafalski — Kolosov
Kronwall — Delmore
Stuart — Janik
Lilja — Meech
Lebda — Ericsson
Piche — Pyett
Almqvist — Ehrhardt
Gleason Fournier is also injured.
Photo Credit: Jan-Michael Stump, Traverse City Record-Eagle