Who's going to sit with these two next season? (Courtesy: Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)

Who Joins Giroux And Hartnell On The Top Line?

With Jaromir Jagr gone off to Dallas, G and Harts are left without a 3rd linemate. The Flyers didn’t add any top flight talent during the offseason (so far), so it looks like an opportunity for somebody already in the system to step up and take the role.

The Flyers did sign Ruslan Fedotenko (I can wear my Ukraine jersey to games again!), who has experience playing with Malkin when Rusty was in Pittsburgh. That’s fine, but I’m not one to believe that success with one superstar must relate to success with another. Especially when G and Malkin have a different playing style. But maybe he will be a good fit. It will be quite an adjustment though. He doesn’t have the passing skills that Jagr had. Hell, he doesn’t have anything that Jagr had. But he doesn’t have to be; he just has to know who his meal ticket is and get him the puck.

What about one of last years rookies: Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, and Matt Read? Well the first two are naturally centers, but that never stopped the Flyers from shifting guys around before (see Danny Briere, Jeff Carter). Each of them brings something completely different, but any of them could work out well. Schenn brings the most skill, as well as some toughness. Cooter adds more size and defensive responsibilty. Reader adds a ton of speed. On paper, you can see how any of those qualities could mesh. But you have to see it on the ice to be sure.

Maybe Wayne Simmonds is the answer. He works hard, crashes the net hard, and stands up for his teammates. However, I feel like his style is too similar to Hartnell, so I’d be in favor of spreading that skillset out a bit. You can’t have your two best netcrashers on one line, unless it’s on a powerplay. Then there is Jake Voracek, who may possess the pass first attitude necessary to play on the top line. Then again, Giroux can dish with the best of them, so Jake has to be willing to shoot a bit more too.

One person never afraid to let it rip is Danny Briere. However, he flourishes at the pivot, not the wing. And I wouldn’t shift G to wing to accommodate Danny, because then he is less effective without the puck. Maybe that’s not how it works out, and maybe the three can combine for a ton of offense. However, Briere is terrible at defense, which really kills this trio for me. We know the Flyers can usually find goals from throughout the entire lineup. What we need is forward combo’s that aren’t completely lost on defense.

It’s going to be interesting to see the mixing and matching of the 12 guys up top. I’m sure the guys who are together on opening day probably won’t be together a month later. Once training camp begins, we can start guessing at what Peter Laviolette is looking for on his top line (speed, possession, etc). Or if we get Rick Nash somehow, this post becomes obsolete.

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Tags: 2012-13 NHL Season Brayden Schenn Claude Giroux Dallas Stars Danny Briere Jake Voracek Jaromir Jagr Jeff Carter Matt Read Peter Laviolette Philadelphia Flyers Rick Nash Ruslan Fedotenko Scott Hartnell Sean Couturier Wayne Simmonds

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