NHL training camps opened on Thursday, and on Friday most teams took to the ice.
The hockey starved community instantly picked up where they left off last season and started to complain or worry about lines and groupings as those teams hit the ice.
I’m here to tell you that it’s ok and not to worry so much so early on into camp. I promise you it will be ok.
Teams typically invite 60 or more players to training camps and there is no way to see who is ready for the jump to the NHL without mixing it up. Yes, those dream lines could be nice in the regular season, and yes, those defensive pairings in the first games are probably rough to watch, but no, it’s probably not be what we will see when the puck officially drops on the season in a few weeks.
— Winnipeg Jets PR (@WpgJetsPR) September 13, 2017
The other purpose of these mixed lines is to see who works with who in case they need to call someone up. These mixed up scenarios help the front office tag the players that they will reach for first when injury happens, and who isn’t quite ready to be one of the first call-ups yet.
This also will help showcase a possible underutilized player from last season and what they need to develop going forward. Could that player be better suited elsewhere? Would they be ok in a finge role on the NHL roster, or do they need to spend time in the AHL to start the season? You can’t find that out without mixing them up.
There is a method to this madness.
So when should you start to worry for real? Personally, my rule of thumb is the last 3-4 days of training camp. By then most major cuts to the team have been made and it’s the rough draft of the team and how it will be the start of the season.
If you’re starved for line combinations, look up old ones from last year and slot in the new acquisitions. Until then, don’t worry about it. These games don’t matter and are just a tool for front offices to gauge where players are at.
Just sit back, enjoy the hockey, and worry when the regular season starts.