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Jets Line Dancing: Second Line Centre Pondering

In case you missed it, we are running our 20 in 20 series for the second consecutive year. In this series, we are dissecting the Jets lineup and providing 20 different lineup combinations over a span of 20 days. To check out the intro, click here.

One of the big debates over the past two seasons is who should play as the second line centre. Bryan Little has been the man for the job in the last few seasons, but there are plenty of other possibilities. In today’s 20 in 20 post, we are looking at three possibilities without Little as the second line centre. While we could easily slot in Lowry with different wingers for all three combinations, we are actually going to look at three different players in that role.

While the most likely scenario is that Little stays between Ehlers and Laine, the point of this series is to check out some other options and have some fun along the way. Who knows, maybe Paul Maurice takes our advice and tries some of these out during the preseason.

SCENARIO 4: Lowry on Second Line

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nik Ehlers Adam Lowry Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault Bryan Little Jack Roslovic
Gabriel Bourque Andrew Copp Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 4/10
Fun factor: 7/10

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I’m not sure there’s really an argument, Adam Lowry is the second best centre on the team. If you arrange your lines with the best players at each position followed by the next best on the next line, you end up with this combination.

Lowry has proved many things over the past few years. He can drive a line and shut-down the opposition’s best, but he still has yet to prove his offensive ability. I believe that ability is there, we just haven’t seen it yet. Playing Lowry with Laine and Ehlers would help Lowry improve his scoring while also improving the line’s overall ability to drive possession and play defensively.

In turn, this would give Little an easier deployment with two solid linemates in Perreault and Roslovic. They would match up well against other team’s bottom six and would likely be one of the better third line trios across the league.

This could be an effective strategy to help even out the second and third lines without too many moving pieces.

SCENARIO 5: Copp on Second Line

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nik Ehlers Andrew Copp Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault Bryan Little Jack Roslovic
Gabriel Bourque Adam Lowry Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 2/10
Fun factor: 4/10

While Lowry got the edge in the last scenario for being the second best centre, Copp gets the edge for the best offensive numbers in this one. Last year, Copp was the second best point scoring centre with 1.81 points per 60 minutes. He finished largely ahead of both Little and Lowry in that regard.

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Combine the strong point totals with strong underlying numbers and you get Copp as the best fit to skate alongside Laine and Ehlers.

It would be an interesting look with Copp in the top six. It would also give the bottom six much more depth with Little and Lowry able to centre those lines. Who knows, maybe Copp is the missing piece between Ehlers and Laine. He’s got good hands, decent speed, and a solid hockey IQ. If the combination works, this would become a really dangerous lineup for the Jets.

SCENARIO 6: Wheeler on Second Line

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Patrik Laine
Nik Ehlers Blake Wheeler Jack Roslovic
Kristian Vesalainen Adam Lowry Andrew Copp
Mathieu Perreault Bryan Little Mason Appleton

Likelihood: 0/10
Fun factor: 8/10

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While this is the least likely scenario, it still provides an option for the Jets to use if they need. There’s virtually no chance that Wheeler and Scheifele get separated, and even if they do, there’s no way that Wheeler moves to centre ice. The only way this could happen is if some major injuries arise.

Even if it’s unlikely, let’s look for a moment at these lines. Connor, Scheifele, and Laine could be a really strong line together. It’s a really nice blend of speed, skill, shooting, and overall offensive ability.

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The second line would also be strong as Wheeler, Ehlers, and Roslovic would be able to out-skate nearly every line they face. What they lack in physicality they would easily make up in speed.

The third line provides a strong defensive presence as Vesalainen gets acquainted to the North American style of game. Lastly, the fourth line would dominate their opposition with Perreault and Little being much strong than an average fourth line.

Even though it’s the least likely scenario, especially when everyone is healthy, this would make a really intriguing lineup to watch. Each line would have their own unique style and it  would help spread the scoring among all of the lines.


Check out the rest of the series

Part 1