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Sutter Shuffles Lines; Is His Choice the Best Available?

Pearson and Toffoli out; some combination of Nolan, Andreoff, and Shore in. This leaves a lot of options for the forward lines.

"Welcome aboard. Don't embarrass us... or else."
"Welcome aboard. Don't embarrass us... or else."
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Morning practice has begun, and we've got an initial answer to the question: "What the hell are we gonna do without Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli?"

Hammond and Jon Rosen both went on to clarify that Nick Shore appeared to be the odd man out. Considering Shore didn't know he was coming until yesterday, I wouldn't be too disappointed if he gets scratched tonight. It appears, though, that we've got some inkling of how Sutter intends to compensate for the loss of his two young scorers.

I'm curious to see what line combos you'd like to see (there were a few suggestions in our Pearson injury post which I'll address below), but here are a few potential strategies to get you started.

The Top-Heavy Option

This was Sutter's choice. It looks like, rather than trying to spread out his remaining offensive threats, Darryl is going to ride the line which looked unstoppable at various points in December. This essentially leaves us with a second line which has worked quite well as a third line, a third line that has worked quite well as a fourth line, and a fourth line which is not inspiring confidence.

This is closest to Rudy's option.

The Happy Carter-Richards Reunion Option

The main reason Jeff Carter and Mike Richards found themselves centering different lines was the runaway success of the Pearson-Carter-Toffoli trio, so why not return to what worked without the two wingers? The 2012 run occurred with Dustin Penner as the third man, but Dwight King seems like the most logical fit on this line. (I will accept arguments to swap Clifford or Brown.) This is closest to Nut's option.

Gaborik-Kopitar-Brown
King-Carter-Richards
Clifford-Stoll-Williams
Nolan-Lewis-Andreoff/Shore

The 2012 Nostalgia Option

Essentially, this is putting Brown-Kopitar-Williams, a line that has seen success together in the past, back on top. This allows for Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik to bring their offense to lower lines, though every time I tried to split them up they demanded a trade back to Columbus. This was closest to BobKnob's option; he swapped Richards and Shore to provide some balance.

Brown-Kopitar-Williams
Gaborik-Richards-Carter
King-Stoll-Lewis
Clifford-Shore/Andreoff-Nolan

The Status Quo Option

Keeping Saturday's lines intact, but simply swapping in Nick Shore on the second line. Works better than you might think; Shore has played left wing before, though I doubt we'd actually see it here.

Gaborik-Kopitar-Brown
Shore-Carter-Lewis
King-Stoll-Williams
Clifford-Richards-Nolan/Andreoff

The First Line Dwight King Option

The best way to try and get three potential scoring lines is to put Dwight King up top; he isn't going to drive production on his own but can hold his own there, while Brown and Gaborik provide a more dynamic left wing option further down. It's also fairly close to Sutter's choices today, and it's not a bad place to start for Nick Shore.

King-Kopitar-Carter
Brown-Stoll-Williams
Gaborik-Shore-Richards
Clifford-Lewis-Nolan/Andreoff

The Nuclear Option

What happens if you try to make four lines that can threaten offensively? It means having lines with Kopitar, Carter, Gaborik, and Richards, basically. It's really difficult.

King-Kopitar-Williams
Clifford-Carter-Lewis
Gaborik-Stoll-Brown
Nolan/Andreoff-Richards-Shore

If you've got a proposed line combination, go ahead and post it in the comments.