Who will man the Winnipeg Jets’ third line?

James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE

As we continue to take a look at what the Winnipeg Jets’ lineup might look like with the roster as it’s currently constructed, it’s time to figure out a possible third line. Last season, the popular “GST” (Tanner Glass, Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn) line got its share of opportunities as the Jets’ third line.

That group of guys is probably better suited as a fourth line and Tanner Glass is gone anyway, signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That means we’ll have some different looks at who will make up the bottom six. After putting together the first and second lines over the last couple of days, here’s what we have left on the current roster as candidates for line three:

LEFT WING:

Alexei Ponikarovsky

CENTER:

Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, Jim Slater

RIGHT WING:

Antti Miettinen, Chris Thorburn

We’ll start by making the only true left winger of this group, Alexei Ponikarovsky a part of this line. He doesn’t get the job merely by default, because he can play a solid two-way game and chip in some goals for you, which is basically all you can ask from a third liner. The Winnipeg Jets signed him to give the team some depth and that’s exactly what he’ll provide.

There are plenty of options at center, with five on the roster. In this spot, I’m going with Nik Antropov. Is he inconsistent? He is, but his size (6’6” 245lbs.) and scoring ability make him an ideal third line center. Jim Slater gives you everything every night, but isn’t as gifted as Antropov.

You’re probably thinking I’ll go with either Miettinen or Thorburn for the right wing spot, which would make sense, but I’m going to shift Kyle Wellwood there from the center position. Wellwood put up some pretty good numbers last year and can also get to the dirty areas and grind it out. He’ll probably bounce around the lineup a lot, but I think he can find a home on the third line.

Is Ponikarovsky-Antropov-Wellwood a third line that excites you? It probably isn’t, but to me at least, it makes sense. What would you do with the third line?

I’ll conclude this series on Monday as we look at a possible fourth line.

 

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  • http://www.arcticicehockey.com garretAIH

    Although possible (except maybe your Burmistrov as #1 centre), I disagree in how you’ve set up and chosen the lines. You have to take in mind how the coach Noel uses the lines and include how the players were used when looking at production. I will break down each line as a separate response, but this will cause some overlap and I’m sorry for that.

    Third line:
    This line faces the toughs just like the first line but unlike the first line they always start a step behind, in the defensive zone.

    Ponikarovsky – ??? – ???

    Ponikarovsky: plays the possession game so well; he is a superb 3rd liner. He creates offense and has led his team EVERY SEASON in Corsi no matter what line he’s on or how he’s used. Him alone is a huge upgrade for the Jets third line.

    ???: Again the ??? spot(s) could easily and probably will be rotated between Burmistrov, Antropov and Wellwood. For the reasons stated on the second line page, I think it’ll start with Burmistrov and Antropov but end with the lineup you have suggested. Antropov will most likely centre as Noel prefers him in the middle over Wellwood, even though Wellwood tends to do better at faceoffs.

    Funny fact: Ponikarovsky – Wellwood – Antropov was the first line for the Toronto Maple Leafs for a short while when Matt Sundin was injured.

    Final comments: I dislike the term inconsistent because it is incredibly subjective and usually wrong. For example, a lot of “inconsistent” players will have similar points per a game and scoring drought sizes as “consistent” players. Examples: Parise/Jokinen, Wellwood/Antropov, etc (not saying the skill levels are equal). Also, this is a third line to get super excited about. If you think of there being 30 teams with 3 players per a line for each position, most third line players should be between 61st-90th place for their position in points. Using your Ponikarovsky – Antropov – Wellwood line that is 52nd – 49th – 35th… They can play defensively and offensively better than GST.

  • Chris Dubiel

    Looking at the point production rankings that you pointed out makes this really look great. The only question is how those numbers would be affected if indeed this group did skate as a third line all year, drawing tougher assignments. However, Wellwood played with Antropov a lot last season so they’re production shouldn’t be affected too much, as far as linemate quality goes.

    It will be interesting to see how Poni fits in on this line, as he skated mostly with Clarkson and Henrique with NJD in the playoffs and with CAR he was playing mostly with J. Jokinen and Ruutu.