I try not to get too excited about line combinations at the opening of training camp. Oh no, not me. I'm not that guy. However… I'll break down a few recent training camp developments and what they mean.
At Leafs camp on Friday, Adam Gaudette was skating on the second line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner, and he is expected to receive power-play reps during camp as well. Gaudette is a former Hobey Baker winner who at one time was pegged to be the Canucks' third-line center of the future (33 PTS in 59 GP in 2019-20). Yet he fell out of favor in Vancouver and was traded to Chicago for Matthew Highmore during the COVID-shortened season and the next season was claimed off waivers by Ottawa.
In spite of two relatively subpar seasons, Gaudette is a strong skater who has averaged second-unit power-play time throughout his career. At 25 years of age, Gaudette is at least being handed a golden opportunity, although I'm not rushing to add him in any league yet based on this recent development. If he's still there on opening night, then I might be more easily persuaded.
The Canucks appear to be spreading out their scoring to create a top 9. Offseason additions Andrei Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev have been skating on a line with Elias Pettersson. Those two might not be the most ideal linemates for Pettersson himself, but the two Russians haven't been brought in to get pushed down the lineup e