Whether you’re a journalist or a sports fan, we all love to read between the lines. Capitals new head coach Barry Trotz gave us that chance in a Q and A posted on NHL.com today.
In a conversation with senior writer Dan Rosen, Trotz reiterated how he plans on coaching Alex Ovechkin’s defensive game -- “I want to make him more accountable,” he said – while dropping in a nugget that the “glide” in Ovechkin’s game was partly his captain’s doing and partly the responsibility of the previous coaching staff. [Hmmm.]
Speaking of "gliding," Trotz also talked about his four-hour conversation with Ovechkin during the NHL draft.
But what might have been the most interesting aspect of the interview is how Trotz plans on assembling his forward lines and, specifically, how he plans on filling the hole at second-line center, a Bermuda Triangle occupied by Mikhail Grabovski last season and Mike Ribeiro the season before.
Trotz said he envisions Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky as possible centers but didn’t rule out the possibility of all three playing on the second line. It’s also worth noting that Trotz is “excited” about Burakovsky, who will be given every opportunity to make the team coming out of training camp.
Trotz also said Troy Brouwer or Brooks Laich could find himself on the top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, whom he continues to praise as a player who gets “very little credit” as an elite centerman.
Trotz also compared 20-year-old right wing Tom Wilson to Boston Bruins power forward Milan Lucic, saying he’s likely to start the season as a top-nine forward and that it’s only a matter of time before he moves “up the ladder.”
With all of that as ammunition, it’s time to read between the lines and start predicting [or in this case, re-predicting] how the Caps may look seven weeks from now. Here are a pair of possible combinations, with Ovechkin switching sides.
Feel free to join in with your own:
Brooks Laich – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Andre Burakovsky – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Marcus Johansson – Tom Wilson
Aaron Volpatti/Eric Fehr – Michael Latta/Jay Beagle - Joel Ward
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Troy Brouwer
Brooks Laich – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky– Marcus Johansson – Joel Ward
Jason Chimera – Michael Latta/Jay Beagle – Eric Fehr