New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano had an interesting lineup for the Isles top line in practice. But can that really be the shape of the Isles top line come the season opener tomorrow?
By sending PA Parenteau to waivers the New York Islanders effectively opened a spot on the right flank of the top line. And in the first practice since Parenteau was in essence released by the team Jack Capuano has played Jason Chimera alongside Andrew Ladd and John Tavares.
We can all agree that Chimera isn’t who we’d pencil in on that top line RW spot. Unless you love grit and sandpaper, then you’ll love this move.
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It’s not that Chimera is a bad player. He scored 40 points last season. For a 37-year-old he’s fantastic. And that’s just it. His appeal is relative. And he’s scheduled for a down year, production wise.
When you look at Jason Chimera’s numbers you’ll notice that his production peaks and valleys fairly dramatically over the last three season. From 42 points in 2013-14 to 19 and then back up to 40 last season.
If he’s bound for a down year then who else can Capuano put up on that top line alongside Tavares and Ladd?
How about Ryan Strome? Strome’s been on Tavares’ wing before. Giving him significant playing time with Tavares might even get him back to the highs of 2014-15? Or not.
Strome has played alongside Tavares, but it hasn’t always been a success. In 2014-15, the two played a total of 124 5v5 minutes, which netted Strome three of his 50 points. The next season wasn’t much better.
In 2015-16, Strome got 506 5v5 minutes with Tavares scoring nine of his 28 points. It’s an improvement. But enough to give it another shot? Probably not. Then consider that the team believes Strome is better at center.
“He’s got tremendous hockey sense, he’s got good intelligence of the game and a lot of skill to go along with it” Capuano on Anthony Beauvillier
Does the team go back on this so soon and put Strome back on the wing? A position they have admitted was a mistake? Things happen, and what we said yesterday might not necessarily stand today. But this would be a tough thing to walk back from the team’s standpoint.
What About the Kid?
What about Anthony Beauvillier? One of those kids that played so well in camp that they forced the Islanders to reconsider keeping PA Parenteau around.
Beauvillier is a natural left-winger but has spent most of training camp bouncing around between the left and right wing up and down the lineup. Why not give him a shot up on the top line? See what the team can get out of him.
The coach seems to be enamored with the kid. He’s had nothing but positive comments for him during training camp. “He’s got tremendous hockey sense, he’s got good intelligence of the game and a lot of skill to go along with it,”
Beauvillier is an unknown quantity. Who knows what he’s going to be. Can he be a point-per-game player? Or a total bust? It can swing either way.
Who they place on that top-line on opening night will reveal a lot about the organization’s confidence level with their roster. Do they try and insulate any risk and put a known quantity on the top line like Jason Chimera. Even though his fluctuating production over the last few years is a cause for concern?
Or do they just accept some risk and put a player like Ryan Strome or Anthony Beauvillier on that top line? Both are unknown quantities. Both have high ceilings and significantly better offensive upside than an aging yet very functional Jason Chimera. I hope the option they take is the latter.