The Case for Giving Brunnstrom Top Six Minutes...At Lehtinen's Expense

An idea that was floated last week by Slaps over at TheStarsFans.

I'll present the case he makes and then give you my thoughts after the jump.

Heika made an excellent point in his profile of Brunnstrom. While he struggled at times last season, in the last 5 games, when he played top-6 minutes, he scored 4 goals and 6 points. He obviously has the talent to produce if given top-6 minutes, which sounds obvious, but not all players will produce more if given more minutes.

It's also obvious that he is more an offensive than a defensive threat.


So do you bump Lehtinen down the line-up to 3rd line duty with Modano and put Brunnstrom in the top pairings? Lehtinen is much better defensively, and the less TOI might be more beneficial to him, given his injury history. Yes, Lehtinen can produce on the top line, but if playing 18-20 minutes a night wears him down and he only plays 35 or 40 games again, what's the point? If Brunnstrom can produce in a top-6 role and Lehtinen can play well and stay healthy in a 3rd-line role, why not?

I've considered the points brought up by this proposal for a week now. I can't find one reason why Marc Crawford shouldn't consider this.

Obviously, Fabian's strengths are going to play right into the strengths of a Marc Crawford offensive system. And as Slaps mentioned, Brunnstrom notched four goals and six assists in his last five games when paired up with one of the top two lines.

It's only natural to desire him to continue getting top six minutes in this system to see what he can do. To me, that's the most important reason this switch must be considered.

But the plight of Jere Lehtinen is a close second.

Obviously, Lehts has had his fair share of injury problems the last two years having only played 48 games in each of the last two campaigns. In 2007-08, Lehtinen racked up a Pts/60 rating of 2.44.

Last season, that mark dwindled to 1.57. And, oh by the way, the native of Espoo, Finland turned 36 years old this past June and is clearly in the twilight of his career.

I mentioned before how important I think it will be for the guys on the second and third defense pairings to have a guy like Stephane Robidas and his work ethic to learn from. Well, Lehtinen has that same work ethic and team first mentality that guys like Brian Sutherby and Toby Petersen could no doubt benefit from on the third and fourth lines.

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