Okay, okay. So the lockout might be ending and I’ll have to change the title of this post from “The Nuge-less Barons Roster” to the “NHL-less Barons roster”, but for now we’ll take things one baby step at a time. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going to play in the World Juniors (assuming he’s not too dinged up), so what does a roster look like without him? It’s not problematic per say, but it does slowly dissipate the Barons healthy lineup options.
Here’s the most recent Barons starting lineup:
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi – Anton Lander – Teemu Hartikainen
Dane Byers – Mark Arcobello – Curtis Hamilton
Philippe Cornet – Eric Hunter – Toni Rajala
I’ve highlighted those that are Nugent-Hopkins as well as those who’ve been rescinded from the Barons and placed in Stockton. Let’s start there for curious reasons. Chris VandeVelde was scratched recently, due to the all important birth of his little one, and thus he’ll take over that fourth line center role. Tyler Pitlick, Tanner House, Ryan Martindale, and Antti Tyrvainen are all injured, and that leaves Cameron Abney as the guy to get the wing spot on the bottom line. Problem solved, at least temporarily.
That leaves the top line center spot open. One could assume that Anton Lander gets a promotion, but I think the Barons give Josh Green (returning from rib injury) the go ahead as the top middle man. As a matter of fact, I can’t envision a scenario where this doesn’t happen given Green’s propensity to “do nice things”. Last year, he was the best center on a minor league team. This year, he’s not had a chance to prove that (and he’s been overshadowed by The Nuge). Both coaching staff and teammates love what Josh Green brings to the table – “big body”, “heads up play”, “smart guy”. I like those things too. Let’s not discount his leadership qualities as well.
We’ll know in a few days how this looks as the Barons head to San Antonio to play the soon-to-be-weary-because-of-four-games-in-a-week Rampage.