While Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz has stated that Alexander Radulov will start on a line with David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist, as hockey fans we can't help but wonder what makes up the best combination of forwards to maximize Radulov's scoring ability while covering up for any potential defensive issues. Yesterday, OTF readers voted overwhelmingly for David Legwand to center the Rad Line, so now we turn our attention to the opposite wing.
Which Nashville Predators winger should play with Radulov? Let's review the candidates...
|2011 - Martin Erat||65||18||39||57||+13||24||4||1||3||101||17.8|
Pro: He's Nashville's Swiss Army Knife up front. He scores, protects the puck, can play either wing, takes on tough opposition, and has some familiarity with Rads from the early days.
Con: This would break up the Erat-Fisher-SK74 line, which has been pretty strong all season.
|2011 - Patric Hornqvist||67||24||13||37||+6||24||7||0||3||189||12.7|
Pro: He can create havoc in front of the net and draw the attention of opposing defenders, freeing up room for Radulov to work in the offensive zone.
Con: May not be suited to rushing the length of the ice with Rads to get into the O-zone.
|2011 - Andrei Kostitsyn||63||15||15||30||-9||22||5||0||4||107||14.0|
Pro: Can bump bodies in the offensive zone to help with the dirty work, but also has good vision and will shoot the puck if Radulov dishes it to him.
Con: Would have to earn his way into such a role at the expense of more established wingers in Nashville, may not be best suited to a high-tempo up-and-down game (or as Barry Trotz likes to say, may not have enough "pace").
|2011 - Sergei Kostitsyn||67||17||26||43||+11||32||1||1||3||87||19.5|
Pro: Well, we know he likes to pass! Seriously, SK74 is a great "Robin", a guy who supports the puck smartly and is always on the lookout to feed his teammates the puck. He's got the hustle and skating chops to hang with Rads up and down the ice.
Con: As with Erat, this would break up the Fisher line. Also, he may be a bit too hesitant to shoot, as Radulov is a savvy puck-mover himself, so you want a guy who's not shy about firing the puck when it comes his way.
|2011 - Craig Smith||69||13||20||33||-12||28||6||0||0||169||7.7|
Pro: He's spent quite a bit of time on the wing this season, and certainly has the speed to work with Radulov.
Con: It's asking too much to put a rookie who's been struggling lately (just two goals and zero assists in his last 19 games) to skate alongside Rads right now.
|2011 - Colin Wilson||66||15||19||34||+4||21||5||0||5||113||13.3|
Pro: Has shown improved vision this year to set up teammates after making one of his patented space-clearing power moves.
Con: Currently out of the lineup with a groin issue, he may not have the time to get healthy and establish a dominant role before the playoffs begin. In addition, Trotz has openly noted issues with Wilson's play away from the puck, which could rule out working with Rads.