The Second Line



Second line is a tradition in brass band parades in New Orleans, Louisiana. The “main line” or “first line” is the main section of the parade, or the members of the actual club with the parading permit as well as the brass band. Those who follow the band just to enjoy the music are called the “second line.”

The second line’s style of traditional dance, in which participants walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air, is called “second lining.” It has been called “the quintessential New Orleans art form – a jazz funeral without a body.”

I was tempted to write today about the latest attempt by Craig MacTavish and Dallas Eakins trying to prove once again that they are “the smartest guys in the room”

The Oiler “brain rust” (not a typo)  decided to send down their best LH defensemen, instead keeping 2 raw rookie D in the lineup and then compounded their curious ways by also waiving Tyler Pitlick and Steve Pinnizzoto who was one of the best forwards in training camp.

No need to pile on, though, since this stuff just writes itself.

Instead I thought we’d take a look at, and rate, the second lines in the WC.

Now, who is playing on any teams’ second line is a bit fluid and we’re going to ignore TOI for this exercise since, in some instances a teams’ traditional third line may actually get more TOI depending on game conditions.

So, upfront, let’s agree that the role of a second line is to provide “secondary” scoring either 5V5 or 5V4.

In some cases, we’ll also see second lines that are designed to share hard match ups with the first line or, in some pathetic cases, a place to stash a trio of players who have to be sheltered by other lines.

So, in alphabetical order we have:

Anaheim – 8

It appears the Ducks will open the season with a second line of Patrick Maroon – Ryan Kesler – Kyle Palmieri/Jacob Silfverberg

The 26 year old Maroon is just coming into his own as an NHL player. the 6’2″ 231 lb winger scored 11G and 29P last season and can easily slide up and down the lineup depending on the situation. It should be noted the Ducks also have 22 year 6’1″ 212 lb winger Emerson Etem waiting for his chance in the top 6. The big bodied winger was a scoring sensation in his final WHL season (61G 107P) and was more than a PPG player in the AHL last season. He may be ready.

At centre, the Ducks traded for Ryan Kesler who led his Canucks team in goal scoring last season with 25. Despite an off season, I can’t imagine he will do worse behind Ryan Getzlaf. Kesler remains an excellent 2 way player and should thrive in Anaheim if he can stay healthy.

On RW, You might see either Emerson Etem, (he played both wings) or, more likely, Kyle Palmieri or Jacob Silvferberg.

Palmieri is only 23 and the former first found pick in 2009 has already played 141 NHL games and has been increasing his offensive output every year…finishing last season with 14G and 31P.

Silfverberg, the 23 year old Swede who was acquired in the Bobby Ryan trade to Ottawa, was only able to play 52 games last season due to injury but came out of the gate blazing and managed 10G and 23P last season.

With another year of development, and a return to health, I could easily see a 20G 40P season out of him.

Given that The Ducks second line is anchored by one of the best two way centres in the league and that they have several good (although somewhat inexperienced) options on the wing. I would mark them an 8.


Arizona – 3

The Coyotes second line, at least according to the depth chart on Cap Geek, appears to be Lauri Korpikoski – Martin Hanzal – Martin Erat

Korpikoski’s best season came 4 years ago when  he scored 19G and 40P. the 28 year old Finn is much more suited to 3rd line duty but when rookie Brandon MacMillan is the next best option, the Coyotes lack of forward death is very exposed here.

Martin Hanzal, at centre. is a big (6’6 230) bruising centre who once again is likely more suited to 3rd line duty on a good team. He came close to his career high in goals last season with 14 so he’s not going to produce much scoring and may have to be #1C until Antoine Vermette is healthy. Yikes.

The RW spot is fluid since the Coyotes are apparently going to try Sam Gagner at wing and he may supplant Erat who has managed to score an astounding 8 goals over the past TWO NHL seasons.

Gagner should certainly be able to surpass that but he is also very weak along the boards and can’t win a puck battle to save his life.

After that, the best option would be BJ Crombeen…nuff said. The Coyotes D and goaltending better be all world this season.


Calgary – 6

The Flames have been busy drafting centres in the first round in the past couple of seasons so they have a few options for #2C but the conventional wisdom is their opening night second line will be Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Joe Colbourne/Mason Raymond.

This is, of course an inexperienced second line but if Gaudreau keep his stellar training camp performance going, Monahan builds on a 22 goal rookie season and young Colbourne takes another step forward, this line could be good for 60+ goals. If Colbourne can’t get it done, I expect Raymond can. Lots of defensive worries here but also lots of potential.


Chicago – 10

Brandon Saad – Brad Richards – Marian Hossa.

This line could score 75 goals. And play a 200 ft. game too.


Colorado – 8

Alex Tanguay – Nathan MacKinnon – Ryan O’Reilly

No idea what Tanguay has left in the tank but it probably doesn’t matter much. MacKinnon and O’Reilly are elite young players who could likely play on the top line for many teams. They might score 80 goals even if Tanguay can only chip in 10.


Dallas – 9

Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky

The Stars’ 2nd line could likely be a top line on several teams we’re looking at here.

With Benn – Seguin – Nichushkin running amok on the top line, coach Lindy Ruff should have a ball matching this line against the opposition.

Watch out.


Edmonton – 3

Benoit Pouliot – Leon Draisaitl – Nail Yakupov

A  player who has never scored more than 16G or 36P along with an 18 year old rookie and a player who is still trying to figure out what hockey is…what could go wrong?

This line will need extreme sheltering and considering the Oilers top line gets outscored too, the Oilers 3rd line may become it’s defacto 2nd line.

If that line is Perron – Gordon – Purcell then you still have one of the weakest 2nd lines in the WC.

While Perron can certainly hold his own, Boyd Gordon’s career highs are 8 goals and 29 points.

Purcell had a nice 24 goal season playing with Steven Stamkos, but Boyd Gordon is no Stamkos.

This will likely be the “hold on for dear life” line if Eakins has to hide Draisaitl and Yakupov.


Los Angeles – 10

Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli

You watched the playoffs, didn’t you?


Minnesota – 9

This one is tough to call since coach Mike Yeo has so many options to play in his top 6.

With the addition of Thomas Vanek (who plays both wings) I would imagine their top line is Parise-XXXX-Pominville

It’s cloudy at centre because all of Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund or even Charlie Coyle could end up there but for now let’s go with:

Vanek – Granlund – Coyle.

Big, fast, talented and in the case of Granlund and Coyle, on the verge of greatness.



Nashville – Incomplete

Mike Fischer is injured. Who will be #1C? Who will be #2C.? Who the hell knows?

Choices for #2C at this point are Paul Gaustad, Matt Cullen, Ollie Jokinen, Derek Roy, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Benny Hill.

I would imagine a couple of those players will supplant such luminaries as Eric Nystrom, Zack Budish and Richard Clune on 2nd line wing but your guess is as good as mine.


San Jose – 7

Matt Nieto – Logan Couture – Tommy Wingels

A relatively young second line so Couture is going to have to carry it to a great degree. The good news for the Sharks is they have 41 goal goal scorer Joe Pavelski also in the centre sweepstakes.

Don’t be surprised if the Sharks second line is Marleau – Thornton – Kennedy before the season ends.


St. Louis – 10

There has been some talk that, with the addition of Paul Statsny, the Blues will move David Backes to wing.

If they don’t :

Jaden Schwartz – David Backes – Vladimir Tarasenko.

Skill – Skill – More Skill.

This is easily a top line on many teams in the NHL.


Vancouver – 5

Nick Bonino is pegged to play #2C and he had a pretty nice season in Anaheim last year but many of his points came on the PP.

The Canucks have lots of options to play wing on the 2nd line but I’m going to go with my best guess.

Alex Burrows – Nick Bonino – Matt Kassian

Lots of question marks here. Burrows had a horrible season in 13/14 and he can’t be worse and Zack Kassian is still an inconsistent power forward. They might make music…they might not.

Chris Higgins and Linden Vey could see time on this line if Burrows and Kassian are struggling.


Winnipeg – 7.

Evander Kane – Matthieu Perrault – Dustin Byfuglien

The Jets picked up a very good player in Perrault and that may be the catalyst for a very good second line. If Big Buff gets moved back to D, Michael Frolik could step up to replace him.











2 thoughts on “The Second Line

  1. I think you’re a tad generous with Calgary and Winnipeg’s scores. I’d put Calgary with Vancouver at ~5, Winnipeg more like a 6. I like the Perrault pick-up, Kane and Buff depends on which guys turn up. Motivated, probably an 8 if anything, but they seem to lack that kind of commitment. I’d rate San Jose in the 8 category. I think they’re better than Winnipeg. I hope you are right about Minnesota, because I tried to be “the smartest guy in the room 😉 ” and took Granlund in my pool a couple of rounds earlier than his projections because I see a 65pt year from him this year.


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