When Denis Malgin returns from injury this week, Bob Boughner will face an interesting dilemma. However it is a good one. Which forwards should he play and which should he sit? Also GM Dale Tallon has to send someone to the minors. Should that be the struggling Radim Vrbata who could give Springfield a veteran boost to squeak into the playoffs or should they send down depth forward Connor Brickley? Here is what I think should happen.
Frank Vatrano was phenomenal in his Panthers debut last night. After being out over a month with an injury, Vatrano ended up on the scoresheet in the Panthers 4-3 shootout victory over the New York Rangers. The second line combo of Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau played it’s best since the Denis Malgin injury. When Malgin comes back here is what I think should happen. If Vatrano continues to play well with the second line, Malgin could help give an offensive boost to Jared McCann and Maxim Mamin. However this does cause a dilemma. Jamie McGinn has been a very unappreciated player this year and he has been solid when in the lineup. Although he doesn’t score much, he scores key goals. Michael Haley is out there to make sure no one tries anything against the Panthers stars. Now some do want to sit Mamin who only has 2 goals in his 16 games. However, the Panthers are 13-1-2 with Mamin in the lineup. Call me superstitious but when your team is that much better with one specific player in the lineup, he should be dressed every night. Here is what I think will/should happen:
Vrbata Retires Early
Earlier this year, former Panther Jaromir Jagr was placed on waivers by the Calgary Flames for the purpose of contract termination. Jagr at age 46 is the second leading points man in NHL history leaving the game with 1,921 points. Jagr only put up 7 points in 22 games with the Flames. Radim Vrbata who was brought into help the top 6 has been terrible. Other than a hat trick in October, Vrbata has 14 points in 41 games and has been relegated to a regular healthy scratch. It is well known knowledge that this is Vrbata’s last year. Vrbata doesn’t have great postseason stats. The Panthers should do what the Flames did and put Vrbata on waivers for the purpose of termination. If he is claimed which is unlikely it’s that other organization’s problem. If he ends up down in Springfield he will have a choice. Retire early or finish his career in the AHL.
Jamie McGinn will sit a lot
Michael Haley is needed in the lineup whether you like it or not. One of the reasons Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau have played full seasons is because no one has taken a run at them. If they do they will have to face Haley. Haley is probably the last true enforcer in the NHL. He drops the gloves all the time. McGinn scores from time to time and is on the powerplay. However that spot will most likely be taken away by Malgin when he returns from injury. With Vatrano, Bjugstad and McCann all fighting for time at the other two forward spots on the powerplay, McGinn is the odd man out.
Evengii Dadonov-Aleksander Barkov-Nick Bjugstad
Jonathan Huberdeau-Vincent Trocheck-Denis Malgin
Maxim Mamin-Jared McCann-Frank Vatrano
Michael Haley-Derek Mackenzie-Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle-Aaron Ekblad
Michael Matheson-Mark Pysyk
Alex Petrovic-Mackenzie Weegar
Scratched: Brickley, McGinn, McCoshen