eric staal


Following the lead of my western counterpart, I’ll give you the Eastern Conference slant on each team’s top six forwards and four defensemen and guys that might challenge them for a spot in the coming season.


Without doing a comprehensive statistical analysis, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the vast majority of points come from a team’s top six forwards and four defensemen!

With that role comes ice time and often power play opportunities, two things that are the key to fantasy success. Now I’m the first guy to admit that I have trouble figuring out who plays on which line, so go easy on me when critiquing these line combinations.


Kovalchuk – T.White - Little
S.Kozlov – Peverley – Antropov

The Thrashers top six seems set. Colby Armstrong is well suited to third line duties. Brett “Pound” Sterling has the talent, but the 25-year-old comes up a little short in other areas. Evander Kane will challenge for a spot in a year or two.

Hainsey - Enstrom
Kubina - Bogosian

It’s possible that Anssi “Pansy” Salmela could end up stealing away some second unit power play time, but I wouldn’t count on it in this crowd.


Lucic – Savard – Kessel (RFA)
Sturm - Krejci - Ryder

Kessel is set to possibly miss the first month of the season, so look for Mark Recchi to sub in on the right side.  Blake “Wagon” Wheeler could surprise with a great camp, but realistically, he needs more experience before playing a more significant role. Patrice Bergeron hasn’t been the same since coming back from that serious concussion, but he does spend a decent amount of time during man advantage opportunities.

Chara – A.Ference
Wideman – M.Stuart

The spoiler could be Matt Hunwick (RFA), who will almost certainly get second unit power play time.


Vanek – Roy – D.Stafford (RFA)
MacArthur (RFA) – Connolly - Pominville

With perennial Band-Aid Boy Connolly around, Jochen Hecht is certain to get a decent amount of time playing in the top six. Nate “Napoleon” Gerbe might surprise, but only if he has a great camp.

Lydman - Rivet
Tallinder – Sekera (RFA)

Marc-Andre Gragnani could provide some offense if he can make the leap to the NHL this season. He will be on the power play if he makes this squad.


Whitney – Staal - Cole
Samsonov – Cullen – T.Ruutu (RFA)

Rod Brind’Amour could supplant Matt Cullen, but Rod the Bod was looking like a mere mortal in the playoffs and that could signal the start of his inevitable decline. Jussi Jokinen had a very good playoff and if someone stumbles out of the gate (cough cough, Samsonov), the Juice might get the call.

Gleason - Corvo
Pitkanen – Babchuk (RFA)

If Dennis Seidenberg (UFA) re-signs with Carolina, that would push Babchuk out of the top four. No worries though, Babchuk will still get significant power play time in order for him to showcase that big point shot.


Booth – Weiss - Horton
Stillman – Reinprecht - Frolik

Rusty Olesz could push for a top six role with a good camp. Shawn Matthias will also get a long look at camp, but may need another year in the A after recording only 20 points in 61 games with Rochester last season.

Ballard - Allen
McCabe – Eminger (UFA)

I am assuming Steve Eminger re-signs with the Panthers. Ville Koistinen could jump up if Eminger doesn’t come back, but he will likely see power play time regardless. Jordan Leopold will not factor in the Panthers top four.

Next week will feature the Canadiens, Devils, Islanders, Rangers and Senators


Write comment
Comments (8)add comment

Katharsis said:

... had to use that good ol' pic of Staal didnt you?
July 18, 2009
Votes: +0

Eric Daoust said:

... Line combinations change all the time. Most likely each possible combination of the top-6 on teams will be used at least once during a season. What's more important is showing which players will be given enough ice time to shine. And this article shows that. Great job!
July 17, 2009
Votes: +0

The Comish said:

The Comish
... Sentium - Thanks, I've switched Booth with Horton. This one was a case of Florida being the last team I was working on and it was late!!

As for Antropov being brought in to center Kovalchuk, I suspect that will be up to the coach. Little was drafted to center Kovalchuk. Whomever has the best chemistry will play on Kovy's line. Of course, they'll play together on the PP.

James Jensen - I looked a little deeper at Leopold's numbers and I will give him the benefit of the doubt. He could end up with top 4 minutes. He is only 28 years old.

Thanks for your comments guys!
July 16, 2009
Votes: +0

Brian said:

... "Atlanta: Antropov was brought in to center Kovy and Kovy loves that."

I hope you're right about this Sentium -- just got Antropov in a deal and am hoping he's with Kovy all year (at least for the 60-75 games he'll play).

July 16, 2009
Votes: +0

James Jensen said:

... I think some people might underestimate Leopold. Eminger seems to be a journeyman more than a top four guy. If Florida signs Tanguay does that push Frolik out of the top six and by extension out of the NHL?
July 16, 2009
Votes: +0

turtke said:

... "Jordan Leopold will not factor in the Panthers top 4"
So, i guess hes just a scapecoat since they lost Jay-Bo.
July 16, 2009
Votes: +0

Chris said:

... Florida: I'd be surprised to see Weiss center anyone but Booth on his left side. They have great chemistry

Im pretty sure you get the idea Sentium, he has booth on the right wing, but he is a LW and Horton is the RW......kinda common sense.
July 16, 2009
Votes: +1

sentium said:

... "so go easy on me when critiquing these line combinations." smilies/smiley.gif

Atlanta: Antropov was brought in to center Kovy and Kovy loves that. Enström and Bogosian was a sick dman pairing in the last third of the season, so they will likely continue together.

Florida: I'd be surprised to see Weiss center anyone but Booth on his left side. They have great chemistry.

But the general idea of the top sixes is here of course. Good overview!
July 16, 2009
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.