Kubalik: The Case for More Skill

COLUMBUS OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Nikita Filatov #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by teammate Tomas Kubalik #33 of the Columbus Blue Jackets after scoring against the Minnesota Wild during the second peirod on September 28 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Matt wrote about the Puck-rakers post regarding head coach Scott Arniel mulling over the thought of three skill lines, particularly to make room for both Filatov and Kubalik. This is the first topic of the pre-season that has really caught my attention, and I thought I would weigh in on the subject.

There is some good discussion going in the comments, with Matt noting that after last year, maybe a bold choice is exactly what the team needs. Meanwhile, Tom Reed of the Dispatch is hung up on the idea of benching/demoting/attempting to trade too many veteran players by rolling an extra line of skill instead of grit.

Matt speculates that the following lines make some sense:

Nash - Vermette - Huselius 
Filatov - Brassard - Voracek 
Umberger - Wilson - Kubalik 
Moreau - Pahlsson - Dorsett

I really have to agree. It's a guarantee that there will be injuries, so you could expect your extra forward to be one of Andrew Murray, Mike Blunden, or Jared Boll. All three one the roster at once are awfully redundant. Forcing an NHL roster spot because of an NHL contract isn't how this team will improve. Blunden and Murray are the most versatile, and Boll probably has the most trade value, so it may make some sense to try to move him prior to the start of the season.

That leaves the situation of Chris Clark to be addressed. If we're picking a veteran leader to bring that additional voice to the locker room, my money is on Ethan Moreau. He has a lot to prove and may provide a little spark that Clark has not since his arrival. Although it would be difficult to move him prior to the trade deadline, there is always a market for experienced veterans - ask Freddy Modin.

The bottom line is that you ask your players to bring their A game to training camp, and that's exactly what Tomas Kubalik has done this year. The same old tired line-up that has been trotted out has not worked. And while Scott Howson has gone to great lengths to improve the roster in many ways, all but guaranteeing a roster spot to Blunden, Murray, Boll, AND Clark just because of their contract situation is absurd. In the past, it seems as if this team has looked for any reason to not give a young guy a chance. Sometimes, you just have to find a way to make it work.

Perhaps to alleviate a bit of the pressure, you could look to put Umberger at center for the start of the season, while giving him plenty of power play time on the left wing. The line-up could look something like:

Huselius - Vermette - Nash

Filatov - Brassard - Voracek

Dorsett - Umberger - Kubalik

Moreau - Pahlsson - Clark

It may not stick, and Kubalik may end up needing time to work on his game in Springfield, but I have to believe that Arniel and his staff is giving this some serious thought. If that is the line-up he sees best fit to ice, Howson will make it work.

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