Doing my usual lunch-time web slog today, I came across an interesting post on THN (via a Puck Daddy post) regarding one writer's opinion on Tavares' fitness as a center and possibilities as a winger:
I had to blink and reread the [rather short] post a few times before I meandered over here to bring up the topic.
We've remarked before on the Isles strength down the center (Tavares, Nielsen, Schremp, Weight, Konopka, and the currently-exiled-to-wing Bailey), so maybe we should take a quick look at the concept - how would JT look on wing, what would it do to our roster, and most importantly...would our current management partnership of Snow and Gordon consider it?
1) How would JT look on wing?
I find it difficult to answer this question - he's still young, still developing his game, still building up to his true adult levels of strength and fitness, so it would be unfair to attempt to judge him based on one year of NHL play as a center. I'm no hockey coach - I'm barely even a player due to my other athletic pursuits - so I lack the right mindset to project what such a transition might look like. The only thing which comes to mind is a post Bourne made on his blog at some point in the past six months regarding the differences between wings and centers, but that was focused more for entertainment and breaking down stereotypes than actual analysis...or at least that's the impression I got when I read it. (I'll find the link later today and edit it in here.) So what do you all think?
2) What would it do to our roster?
The most immediate effect is that it would potentially end Bailey's current exile to the wing, which opens the question of whether Bailey is better off moving back to center or staying at wing - I know we ALL have opinions on that one, so I'll leave it for the comments. Potentially, it creates stronger player mixes for the top 3 lines, modifies the layout of our power plays...assuming that Rob Schremp Hockey and Matt Moulson "prove out" this year, our top 6 suddenly look tremendously strong (Bailey and Scremp at centers, JT and KO along with Moulson and...who, Nino, Kabanov, Petrov? on wings...) along with allowing us to build a truly complementary 2-way line around Frans to shut down opposing top lines (who would we like to see on Frans wings for a shutdown line?)...
3) Would Snow and Gordon consider it?
My opinion is that they would. Gordon is a coach, and regardless of sport the general hallmark of coaches is that they will be willing to try almost anything in terms of personnel management to earn wins. Snow is building an excellent reputation with canny trades and smart drafting, and seems dedicated to the "develop from within" cliche of roster development. In Gordon's case, if JT on wing lets him get more dynamic line combinations out, he'd try it. In Snow's case, if it allows him to upgrade the talent level of the NHL roster, he'd try it. So the question would really be: will they?
This is all shot in the dark speculation, based on post-lunch navel reflection. Now, your Tuesday-Pizza-Lunch-Poll!