**Please keep in mind this article is written as a hypothetical piece. This is in no way how things will play out this season, but if I'm right that'd be pretty cool**
As the start of the 2010-11 season draws near (T-minus 50 days and counting!), everyone is getting excited for a hundred reasons. Personally I can't wait to see a high flying, high octane offense, the new coaching staff, being at the arena opening night and Steve Mason return to his first year form. One of the biggest differences we will see on the ice this year is Coach Arniel's style of play.
So far we've heard the idea of pushing the puck and moving up the ice, forwards and defensemen alike. Puck-rakers have posted a couple stories regarding a change we can expect to see when we've got the advantage. Arniel has been known to use a fourth forward to play the point on a Power Play unit. When you first think of this, your mind will likely go one of two places: A) What the hell? Our blueliners were such a liability last year, and you want to have just ONE on the ice during a PP? or B) This is great! It shows he wants to put a ton of pressure on the PK'ers and put us in the best position to score.
My first reaction was B. I like the direction Arniel wants to go, I think it will make things very interesting this year. After the jump, I want to look at some potential Power Play units.
We all know that PP specialist Anton Stralman will be back after he and the Jackets came to terms on a one-year deal, just before the arbitration hearing was supposed to take place. I'm happy the deal was made, partially because we got him back for next to nothing (1.95 million - Howson, you're a genius). It will be a good thing for us to see #6 quarterbacking one of the power plays the Jackets put on the ice. He is probably the only defenseman who can run it effectively on a normal basis.
I've got a couple ideas in mind. They might not be perfect but I think they can work.
Rick Nash - Antoine Vermette - Jakub Voracek
Fedor Tyutin - Stralman
Obviously Nasher is going to be on the first unit. I see him playing LW a lot more this season, even at even strength. Arniel has been talking to Nash about making the move back to the left side where is he more of a natural fit. (If it happens though, maybe look for Juice to slip to the second line to play left of Brass and Nikita?). Vermette is the best option to center this line. His chemistry with Nash is important for him to make the jump to elite status - and its already off to a good start. Look for Voracek to up his game significantly this year. His hard work on and off the ice will result in more responsibilities during games.
Kristian Huselius - R.J. Umberger - Derek Dorsett
Kris Russell - Derick Brassard
Brass might get to see some time centering this unit but since he was a point player in junior, he's likely the first guinea pig in Arniel's experiment. If Jake doesn't make the move to the first unit right away, look for him to be the second option here. I can see Russ getting some time as well, considering his nose for getting the puck to the net. Umby would be the next best option at center with Juice, and his 159 career PPP, to his left. I'm going out on a limb here with the RW position. I'm sure a lot of you will disagree and give me reason upon reason upon reason why Dorse wouldn't fit - but I'm the author here, and I can do what I want. While his point production on the power play probably wouldn't impress many, imagine this:
Final game of the season, Columbus is fighting for a playoff spot, and Buffalo stands in the way. In the final period, the Jackets fight back to tie the game with just moments left. Buffalo commits a careless penalty and is down a man for the final two minutes of the game. The second unit is on the ice and controlling the puck. With Dorsett's ability to draw penalties, he starts toying with D Craig Rivet (Buffalo's leader in PIM last year). Rivet can't take it and hooks Dorsett to the ice, the ref calls it and now we have a 5-on-3.
The first unit returns to the ice to finish out the game. Buffalo wins a faceoff and controls. After a poor dump pass, Nasher streaks down the ice towards Ryan Miller, and Vermette shoots a great lead pass a la Michael Peca. Nash is one-on-one with Team USA's All-Star goalie - remembering the days of shootouts past, Nasher pulls a stink-leg that catches Miller off guard. Watch him lunge to the right while Nasher stops, spraying him with ice, then dumps the puck into the empty net to give the Jackets a one goal victory.
The day is saved, and off to the playoffs they go...all thanks to Derek "Scrappy Doo" Dorsett.