With the return of Travis Zajac, possibly as soon as Friday, it’s time to look at what the Devils’ lines may look like once he comes back.
First, the easy part: Tim Sestito will likely be the odd man out. Zajac is a center, and Sestito has done nothing to show he deserves to remain with the big club.
It might also allow coach DeBoer to finally split up Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise to have two top scoring lines, and a third line that would include a rookie of the year candidate in Henrique, who is currently playing on the top line.
Of course, Zajac will probably get third-line time to start, but you’d think that would last only a handful of games. The lines would likely stay the same, with Zajac centering the third line and Carter shifting to the fourth line to take Sestito’s spot.
Here’s how I’d line up the forwards once Zajac was ready for full-time duties:
(shooting hand in parentheses – Left-handed shot = L; Right-handed = R)
Parise (L) – Zajac (R) – Zubrus (L)
Kovalchuk (R) – Elias (L) – Sykora (L)
Tedenby (L) – Henrique (L) – Clarkson (R)
Boulton (L) – Carter (L) – Janssen (R)
These combinations would allow Parise and Zajac to be reunited, would move Kovalchuk to the second line, and back to the left wing, and would create a pretty good third line that could take regular shifts.
It would also keep Elias at center, something he’s said he’d like to do, and allow Sykora and Zubrus to both play their natural right wing position.
The fourth line would get limited minutes, unless it was a game where you needed bodies thrown around, as well as fists.
No matter what the lines end up being, you can’t argue the fact that the Devils will have solid depth once Zajac returns.
They will have even more depth, and likely more decisions to make as far as line combos go, once Jacob Josefson returns, which could be just over a month away.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let me know what your line combinations would be.