I hate to say this but Jaromir Jagr is getting old. He doesn’t play that great in the playoffs when we need him. I predict he will end up retiring sometime within the next three years. It is time to start looking for a replacement on the top line. Remember I’m not talking about this happening now, I’m talking about down the road. Here are some candidates for that spot:
Reilly Smith- Smith and Barkov both great snipers playing on the same line with one of the best passers in the game Jonathan Huberdeau. Can’t you just imagine. Smith is a speedster. The second line plays a similar game to the top line but faster paced. Huberdeau and Barkov are both really young and Smith is young too. I think Huby and Barkov have to play slower because Jagr is pretty slow. With Smith on that line, they will be able to play a faster paced game. With Huberdeau who has a great pass and Barkov with an exceptional pass, Smith will benefit. He can also pass the puck with 25 assists last year so don’t worry about Barkov not getting on the score sheet a lot (he didn’t back then because he was playing with puck hog Bergenheim). The only problem is that who will play with Trocheck and Jokinen then. Plus Trocheck may need new wingers if Smith is promoted because around that time Jokinen may be gone too.
Juho Lammikko- I was reviewing the top prospects list I made a few days ago and his name and stats stuck out to me as a top candidate. His stats were similar to Jagr’s but not as many points/goals/assists but he could get there. Like Barkov he can play both sides of the puck well. I think he plays a possession game like Jagr and would be the best all-around guy to be the new winger up there.
Jussi Jokinen- If you are looking for a temporary replacement and a guy who is like Jagr it’s Jokinen. He is a good leader. Plus he and Barkov have chemistry from Team Finland. He is also a great passer. He might help Barkov get over 35 goals with him and Huberdeau both playing with Barkov. Huberdeau may also score a lot with him on the line. If Huberdeau shoots the puck more he will score a lot. Plus Jokinen can come up with a key goal. If Huberdeau and Barkov want a veteran to play with them it’s Jokinen.
Nick Bjugstad- We have so many centers in our system and maybe Bjugstad will fit in. I don’t think he will have the same success playing with Huberdeau and Barkov as the other guys will though. I think Bjugstad is considered a candidate but I just don’t see him doing well on the top line.
If I had to pick I’d go Lammikko only because we don’t want to mess up the other lines and he plays a similar game to Jagr.