Is breaking up JoFA line hard to do for Peter Laviolette? We'll soon find out
The Predators' first line of offense might be the product of a makeover this season.
As hard as breaking up his top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson has been for Peter Laviolette, the Predators coach at least has been experimenting with the idea during training camp.
"Reluctant," Laviolette said last season when asked about doing so.
That was then.
Now? Maybe a little less reluctant.
Kyle Turris, a fourth-liner by the end of last season, has been practicing a ton playing the wing with Johansen and Arvidsson during training camp.
That's pushed Forsberg to the second line with Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund.
Whether the move will stick once the regular season begins Oct. 3 against the Wild remains to be seen.
"I played pretty good at Worlds," Turris said. "Had a good summer. I can tell you it's not lost. I know how I can play and how I need to play. Being on the wing is a new position I'm excited about."
What Turris is most excited about, though, is "the opportunity to play."
Turris said he just needs to continue to get more comfortable on the wing and be ready for whatever the team asks of him.
"Just little situations you have to get used to – taking pucks off the wall, defensively, receiving passes, while a guy is coming at you being able to make a move," Turris said. "You're in situations like it as a center, but it's just a different part of the ice."
Johansen said who he plays with matters little to him. He also can relate to making a position switch, having done it a time or two in his career.
"It's different. You have to make sure you're a little more focused on what your job needs to be," Johansen said. "He’s just got a couple little adjustments he has to make. It shouldn’t be too big of an adjustment."
Johansen also said he's been impressed with the "chemistry" he's seen with Duchene, Granlund and Forsberg on the second line.
"I think it could be successful both ways," general manager David Poile said. "Kyle probably will be the first to admit he didn't have the year he wanted to have – a couple injuries – it didn't happen for him. ... Kyle needs to be what he was when we first traded for him. If he gets back to that level again, I don’t care where we play him."
Here's a look at the possible lines and pairings as the regular season approaches:
First line: Forsberg, Johansen and Arvidsson, aka "JoFA," combined for 76 goals (32.2% of the team's total) and 86 assists during the regular season last year. But plugging in Turris could help him while moving Forsberg to the second line could help Granlund, who struggled after joining the Predators at the trade deadline.
Second line: Should JoFa remain intact, look for Duchene to center Granlund and Turris on the second line. With an overabundance of centers, Turris' best bet for playing time and production seems to be in a top-six role.
Third line: Colton Sissons looks likely to center this line, with Calle Jarnkrok and Craig Smith flanking him.
Fourth line: That would leave Nick Bonino to center the fourth line, presumably with Austin Watson and Rocco Grimaldi by his side.
On the bench: Daniel Carr, Miikka Salomaki.
First pair: Looks like Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis here.
Second pair:Dante Fabbro, at least for now, probably will get his shot with Mattias Ekholm, though Laviolette said they'll monitor Fabbro's development closely.
Third pair: Dan Hamhuis seems to be a lock, but will he be joined by Yannick Weber or Matt Irwin or Jarred Tinordi or Steven Santini?
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