The Boston Bruins are heading into training camp shortly with plenty of tinkering and adjustments to be made regarding personnel and tactics. One question mark that still has yet to be definitively solved is the third line in which a variety of solutions remain plausible. One such option, not much discussed, but realistic, is the possibility that Daniel Paille will move up from the fourth line to the third line to provide some consistency.
Paille has been one of the best values on the Bruins roster, especially in the last couple of seasons. Although he plays on the fourth line, albeit a very talented line at that, he has the skill and potential to play on almost any other line in the Bruins’ system. He had 17 points in 46 games for the Bruins last regular season and nine points during the playoffs in addition to his three game winners. If anyone deserves a promotion, it would be him.
Compound Paille’s ability with the inconsistency of the third line, which has been everything but productive, and one can see why it makes sense. Last season, the line saw a rotation of call ups from the AHL and fringe players trying to get the most of each game. If the Bruins had one weakness on their squad last season it was that. And although the offseason is coming to a close, there is still uncertainty of what will happen there. Both wings are questionable as is the center position if Carl Soderberg puts up a good fight to grab it.
One of the outside the box possibilities would be to move Paille up to the third line. Almost nobody questions that he has the talent to play there. He proved last season that he can play on any wing if necessary and still get results. Wing play suits him with his speed to break around defenders. His presence would ensure some quality and consistent play that the Bruins could desperately use on that line.
A problem most Bruins fans will voice is that breaking up the fourth line is a bad idea. It is perfectly justified given the reliability it has and chemistry. I would argue that the fourth line would be able to cope with losing Paille. The fourth line is not relied upon for scoring goals for the team. Its main claim to fame is its superiority over other fourth lines and its ability to grind the other team down. There are other players in the Bruins’ system that can do this. In addition, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser could be introduced into the squad on the fourth line. Both are talented, young wingers who would benefit from being on a line with two experienced veterans.
The main reason to move up Paille is to spread the consistency and quality play around. Paille has the ability to play on a more goal oriented line that is in need of a player like him. The fourth line in return will not suffer as much as people think and can help bring a new winger into the fold in a situation he can handle. It appears a win-win on paper, but time will tell and so will training camp. Until then, we can only speculate as to what the ultimate solution will be.
Tim Nikolouzos is a Boston Bruins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @timnikolou