Every team needs superstar players to win and there is no doubt about that. Teams that actually win, however, have that forward depth that all other teams dream about when they are eventually knocked out of the playoffs.
How many teams have that depth though? What does every team’s third-line center look like and play like? Let’s find out.
I used DailyFaceoff’s line combinations mostly for this, so don’t come to me with a “well actually [insert young player year] is going to be the third-line center this year”.
Whether it’s Ryan Kesler or Adam Henrique, the Ducks actually have decent depth down the middle. That doesn’t take away the fact that they are slow and bad. Watch out for the elbows too.
The team that every single fan pities and doesn’t take seriously, will have Christian Dvorak or Alex Galchenyuk in the depth role this season. Not too bad for a sleeper playoff pick that everyone will make in a couple weeks. As history has shown, if a good player leaves the Habs, they get even better – so maybe there is some hope.
Sure, having Patrice Bergeron playing every important shift imaginable is nice, but how about that depth. Who the hell is Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson? Is he some Swedish creation from someone that tried to pair the genes of Peter Forsberg and Erik Karlsson? I feel bad for anyone that has to play for the Bruins and live in Boston.
Newly-acquired Patrik Berglund will be the Sabres third-line center this year. Berglund is a solid defensively-minded center, but he won’t do much else. You know who else is a solid defensively-minded center that CAN do everything else? The guy that had 35 more points than Berglund last year and was traded for him.
It might be Derek Ryan or Mark Jankowski sharing the third-line role, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. Ryan got to play with phenom Jeff Skinner in Carolina, so I don’t think that his numbers will be that similar playing with Curtis Lazar. Might just be me, but the Flames really have to hope that nothing goes terribly wrong in that bottom-six.
Jordan Staal, Martin Necas, or Victor Rask, the Hurricanes have some of the best options for their third line. A lot of that success depends on a player that has yet to play in the NHL and the wingers that they will be playing with. No one will really know how successful they are, since no one really watches this team anyways.
The Blackhawks have a good third-line center as their first-line center. Also David Kampf is just ripe for puns.
J.T. Compher was drafted by the Sabres. That’s all you have to know about his performance on the ice.
Columbus Blue Jackets
For the Blue Jackets, it will be Brandon Dubinsky or Riley Nash down the middle of their third line. Nash was drafted by the Oilers and just finished his last two seasons with the Bruins. Hopefully Columbus can clean some of that stink off of him.
Martin Hanzal is as nonfunctional as the NHL itself. If a player spends too long in Arizona, it does something to their brain – just look at Shane Doan.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings first line is a good third line. Whatever poor and unfortunate soul has to play on the third line of the 2018-19 Red Wings, does not deserve it. But at least they have job security.
McDavid can’t be their first, second, third, and fourth-line center – so the Oilers are fucked.
Young Henrik Borgstrom will most likely be in this slot for the Panthers this season. The known Computer Boy draft pick will most likely be playing sheltered minutes as Barkov and Trocheck play against the tough competition. I’m actually kind of excited to see him play a full season, against everyone but the Leafs.
Los Angeles Kings
I don’t even know who the Kings third-line center will be – but I do know that they will be old as hell and will probably have a runny nose.
Joel Ericsson Ek sounds like someone just started choking after saying their name. Hard pass.
The Canadiens don’t even have a first-line center, let alone a third-line center.
Every Habs fan will have to be reminded that their history and tradition cannot actually physically put on skates.
Cup hero Nick Bonino is definitely a solid option for a contending team like the Preds. He will always be remembered as part of a hilarious Jim Benning masterpiece.
Their whole forward group is extremely underrated, if we want to be serious for a moment.
New Jersey Devils
As much as his draft stock tell you he is, Pavel Zacha is not very good. He can play on both special teams, but being able to and doing something well are completely separate things. Too bad Taylor Hall can’t be everyone’s winger.
New York Islanders
I swear the Islanders just lost one of the centers? I forget to what team though. Also didn’t the Habs not getting a meeting with him? Didn’t he sign for the best team to ever be in the NHL? Something like that.
Valtteri Filppula is so screwed.
New York Rangers
Even through a rebuild, the Rangers have a better third-line center than most of the teams actually trying to win “for the culture”. Kevin Hayes or Lias Andersson will be fine. They get to play at Madison Square Garden and live in New York.
Jordan Weal? The whole bottom-six forwards on the Flyers are completely made up. Full of 25-26 y/o guys that were destined to be stellar prospects when the Flyers were as mediocre as ever.
I mean, they still are, but back then they were too.
Everyone knows how stacked the Penguins forward group is. Derrick Brassard was able to escape Ottawa, and for that I congratulate him.
Do the Pens even need to have a third line?
San Jose Sharks
After Couture and Thornton, lies little Chris Tierney. He’s not the most skilled, but a team like the Sharks could place a literal pylon as their third-line center and still win that horrible Pacific Division.
How can anyone actually dislike the San Jose Sharks? They are so harmless, especially when it comes to the playoffs.
St. Louis Blues
We are all too familiar with him – Tyler Bozak is the St. Louis Blues third-line center. As we have seen for season after season, Bozak is good in a sheltered role, and he gets exactly that playing behind Brayden Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly.
We will always love you, Tyler and Kanon.
Tampa Bay Lightning
We all know how great the Tampa Bay Lightning forwards are. They can do nothing wrong and are going to tear up the league. But who the hell is going to play in their bottom-six?
Tyler Johnson is just overpaid trade bait now, and Anthony Cirelli is okay? He played well for the 18 NHL games he’s played, but you never know.
It sucks to have to rely on unknown abilities for your forward group.
Toronto Maple Leafs
A God Amongst Men. The Omnipresent Disturber. A Player That Will Score So Many Damn Goals Against You.
Nazem Kadri Tha God
We are Blessed by Nazem. He is the One True Third-Line Center.
No other third-line center can simply come close to the impact that Nazem Kadri has for the Leafs. He will simply destroy your first line and then score 30+ goals against your Vezina-winning goaltender.
Nazem Kadri is a better player than most team’s first-line centers. There is no doubt about it.
He can do no wrong, he is a Toronto Maple Leaf.
Brandon Sutter is stuck in Vancouver because of Jim Benning. I swear most of the Canucks forwards should be in the AHL.
Good on them for staying in the NHL though.
Vegas Golden Knights
No crazy shooting percentage high can cover the fact that Cody Eakin is your third-line center.
Like most Habs escapees, Lars Eller was able to find a much more comfortable home with another team. They just won a Cup, so I can’t say anything terrible about them really.
I guess paying Tom Wilson more than the Best Third-Line Center In the NHL sucks for them.
The Atlanta Thrashers will most likely have Adam Lowry in this role for them going forward. The Thrashers have done a good job at drafting and development for the most part. The Atlanta Thrashers were in the Western Conference Final this past season and that’s not bad.
I wonder why they’re in the Western Conference when Atlanta is on the East Coast.