It's official - Michael Mersch has been recalled. He is joining the team in Pittsburgh today.
Don't lie, I know this is how you all reacted when you saw the news yesterday.
It's okay to be excited. I understand. The Kings' most intriguing prospect has arrived on the scene. That's right, that means...
MICHAEL MERSCH IS FINALLY GOING TO MAKE HIS NHL DEBUT!!!
Alright, are we all calm now? Is everyone feeling okay? Shall we proceed then? No? Fine. I'll give you another minute.
We all good now? I don't care if you are or not, I'm moving on with or without you.
Anyway, we don't actually know when exactly Mersch will make his NHL debut. If he follows the typical Sutter pattern, he may sit out at least a game or two to "observe" or something. Then again, apparently Trevor Lewis didn't make the trip, Dwight King is still a couple of weeks away from returning and Kyle Clifford was sent home due to "protocol" for an "upper-body injury" (because apparently it's taboo to say the word "concussion.")
Down a forward, it seems likely that Jordan Weal stays in the lineup and Mersch will play against the Pittsburgh Penguins. HOWEVER. Wouldn't it be a very Darryl Sutter thing to play with 7D and 11F just for "reasons" or whatever? I feel like this is a possibility that could happen. Of course, Sutter did keep Mersch up as long as possible during training camp and muttered something about "scuff on his boots" when the young winger was sent to Ontario.
So, if he does play on Friday, where do you put him? Obviously he's not a top-six player. His ceiling appears to be a very good third line left winger. Best case scenario, he's a better finishing Dwight King. Worst case scenario, he's, well, Dwight King, though maybe more of a net-crashing-score-dirty-goals-make-life-difficult-for-goalies type of player. Like, a poor man's Milan Lucic, perhaps. Just, less of a meat-head (on the ice, at least -- I don't know Lucic personally but he seems like a fairly intelligent fellow).
He's unlikely to crack the top-six, where it seems like Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have finally found their groove with Tanner Pearson along for the ride. The line of 17-77-73 is chugging along nicely, so there's no way Sutter breaks them up. What about the third line? Dustin Brown and Nick Shore seem to have formulated a chemistry and look pretty comfortable on the ice together. Mersch is familiar with Shore, having played with him quite frequently during last year's Calder Cup run. The Chicago native also played with Weal and Monarchs Head Coach Mike Stothers typically went to a line of Mersch-Weal-Brian O'Neill when the team was in need of offense.
If you reunite Mersch and Weal, the Canadian center may actually shine with a decent linemate. And Jordan Nolan. Andy Andreoff, much improved of late, hasn't been a total drag on a line with Brown and Shore so 15-21-23 is a possibility that could work while giving your "fourth" line a shot at not sucking for a change with 49-19-71.
Andreoff can play pretty much anywhere in the lineup and Brown is equally comfortable on both wings, which gives the team quite a bit of a flexibility in their bottom-six. That leaves open the potential for Brown-Shore-Nolan, Brown-Shore-Andreoff, Brown-Weal-Nolan, Brown-Weal-Andreoff or any other potential combination.
What do you think? Where would you put Mersch? The possibilities are nearly endless!
During practice this morning, Mersch skated to the left of Brown and Shore. This leaves a fourth line of Andreoff - Weal - Nolan. Is this the right move? Discuss in the comments below.