August 16 2015

Ian Gooding


Nathan MacKinnon - USA Today sports images

Western Conference positional battles, more on game theory, Sergei Gonchar, and Sami Salo

Scanning the rosters of several Western Conference teams, I’ve discovered a few interesting positional battles. You could dub these “mini intrasquad cage matches.” (Apologies in advance, Rick.)

Chicago – Artem Anisimov vs. Marko Dano

Both center-eligible forwards landed in Chicago from Columbus in the Brandon Saad trade. Anisimov seems to be the safer option as an established center that should probably score around 40 points but not much more. Dano, though, is a little harder to predict with a higher risk/reward factor. He went on quite a run during March and April in scoring 15 points in 20 games. For some reason, Dano appeals to me more, although he didn’t exactly light it up in the KHL. Granted, he was only 19 years old when he played there. Give me the guy with higher potential reward.

Vancouver – Bo Horvat vs. Brandon Sutter

In Vancouver, Horvat is the future captain in the mold of Trevor Linden, while Sutter was overpaid after the Canucks overpaid to get him. The Canucks have big plans for Sutter, which could mean that Horvat could be eased into more of a third-line role rather than top-6 minutes. That being said, Sutter should take more of the defensive zone starts and penalty kills, which could provide Horvat with better offensive situations. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Sutter scored 21 goals last season and Horvat only 13. Horvat’s totals should improve this season, while Sutter’s probably won’t.

San Jose – Joe Pavelski vs. Logan Couture vs. Joe Thornton

For a short time last season, the Sharks experimented with splitting these three center-eligible forwards onto three separate lines. This resulted in Thornton being bumped down to the third line, which may have come off as yet