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The pros and cons of a “super” line

August 20, 2012, by

In an attempt to take our minds off of the inevitable lockout, let’s turn our focus to the Rick Nash acquisition and if he will play with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.

The concept of a “super” line with these three sure is enticing. After all, it worked in Ottawa with Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatly. It has worked in the past with Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin, and any winger that gets placed on that line (let’s be realistic here, you or I could play with those two and put up 35 goals). But what it gives a team in superior scoring talent, it takes away depth issues.

There are pros and cons to putting those three together, but it’s something that the coaching staff will at least look at when Gaborik is healthy. Whether that is before the season starts or after, well that’s up to the owners and the NHLPA.


  • Three elite talents on one line creates havoc for the opposition. The defense will simply be overwhelmed. This is a line with two 40 goal scorers and a player capable of putting up 70 assists with these two. All three are capable of 70-80 point seasons.
  • When putting these three together, all three will likely –can’t prove this until it happens– get a boost in stats. Nash is not known for generating assists, but he’s never had talent like this to play with. Gaborik has never had another winger to take the scoring pressure off him either.
  • To a point mentioned above, Nash has never really generated assists because he hasn’t had much talent with him. Imagine what could happen if people started burying his passes.
  • Richards now has two options, instead of one. Before, the defense would be able to lock in on his passes to Gaborik, and let the lesser players attempt to beat them. That option won’t exist if Nash is there as well.


  • The Rangers don’t have proven scoring depth to make other teams pay for loading up on them. Will any combination of Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Chris Kreider be able to score enough to make teams think twice about focusing all of their defensive effort on the Big Three?
  • Nash and Richards both like to carry the puck into the zone, creating a questionable chemistry. Would Richards defer to Nash, or vice versa? We all thought Scott Gomez would click with Jaromir Jagr –both of whom like to carry the puck– and that didn’t work out.
  • None of Gaborik, Richards, or Nash are known for their defensive prowess or their two-way game. They aren’t liabilities, but they aren’t necessarily strong. A poor match up (i.e.: an icing) could be disastrous.
  • What happens if/when the other lines can’t score enough to take the pressure off the top line? Will they be broken up? Would there be enough time for them to generate chemistry with the younger players.
  • Speaking of younger players on the top six, wouldn’t they benefit from having one of these guys to play with, and to learn from?
  • The line of Hagelin-Richards-Gaborik has shown tremendous chemistry in the past. Is that worth breaking up? Is it worth breaking up knowing that Nash could very well find some solid chemistry with Stepan?

In the end, the Rangers are going to need to try all options until something sticks. Maybe they will luck out, and Nash will find chemistry with Stepan from the start, leaving this point moot. Personally I don’t believe a “super” top line works, but every team is different.


  1. wwwc9 says:

    How about:
    Richards, Gabby, and Cally
    NAsh, steph, Kreider
    Hags, Boyle, _____?

    Cally can forecheck and you”ve got a 29 goal scorer with a 40 goal scorer.

    It is in the end, the chemistry that forms. It would be a waste IMO, to put your second leading scorer Cally on a third line. Hags is probably better suited there. Kreider needs second line minutes.

  2. Walt says:

    The lines mentioned above look good on paper, and it spreads the scoreing around some. Chris Kreider will gain some wonderful experience skateing with Nash, and both are power forwards with soft hands. Shut one of them down, the other kills you.

    Cally will be the mucker on the first line, and people could wait for the pass to Gabby, instead going to Cally, another tally for the boys. If the combos don’t work, then switch Nash, and Gabby, and there you go. These two guys are interchangable parts, give the other team a choice of how they are going to be scored upon.

    A super line would work when you are trailing in the 3rd, and the clock is running out on you. As to the point of a full time super line, if you shut them down, then you shut the entire team down, more or less. The thought of this super line on the PP would be great, with MDZ, and Strahlman on the point as the first unit.

    Now lets talk about Hags, is he really a first line player, I think not. Put him on the 3rd line with Boyle, and Pyatt, then you can shut down a scoreing line, and have plenty of potential scoreing from these three. Hags is a very good two way player, but his hands aren’t the softest, and shouldn’t really be on a first line, especially with the talent on this team!

  3. Jeff P says:

    Talking in terms of set lines with Torts is meaningless. I don’t have the stats, but I’m willing to bet that no line played more than 30 games together last year.

  4. Cole says:

    I think both of the previous posts discount the job Hagelin did this season. The relentless forechecking of Hagelin’s created many goals even if it didn’t show up on the score board. I think breaking up Hags Richards and Gabby (when he is healthy) is a mistake. Discounting chemistry is a big mistake IMO. Let Kreider play with Nash and get some experience and let the 3rd line of Cally Boyle and Pyatt be the bruisers. Those 3 can be a shut down checking line plus they have some offensive upside.

    • Walt says:

      I won’t argue the point, especially because Torts will interchange all these guys anyway! Lets face it, Hags could be put in place of Cally, but Cally scores more than Hags, and that is the main purpose of the first line.

      • Chris. C says:

        Hagelin should stay on the top line, his speed and forechecking also he should be putting more pucks behind the net this year.
        Hags – Richards – Gabby
        Nash- Steph – Kreider
        Cally – Boyle – Pyatt
        Thoses Lines sing goals. The only time we hopefully see the Gabby/Richards/Nash line is down a goal in the 3rd.
        Cally is in no way a Top six player. Sure hes charlie hustle right place at right time, but as far as raw skills and talent that Kreider and Hags have, not in the same cateory.

  5. tpetrillo says:

    Cally’s not a top six forward?

    His offensive numbers keep getting better every year. Maybe he could score some more pretty goals if he wasn’t busy blocking every shot he can dive in front of and hitting everything that moves.

    • Dave says:

      Where did you get that from? I mention Cally as someone who would need to produce enough secondary scoring to keep the pressure off the top line.

      As of right now, he’s RW #2, hence a top-six forward.

      • tpetrillo says:

        I meant to reply to Chris C’s post, first time posting on this site, sorry for the mix up.

  6. Mikeyyy says:

    You alternate the super line as needed during a game.


  7. rickyrants13 says:

    You are wrong if I was on that line I would score only 3 goals all empty netters. And have like 95 asst. All kidding aside. I dont think we can throw them all on one line. Even if Krieds, Stepan, Cally does score. And I think they could. I think you need to spread it out some.

    Nash, Richards, Gabbs scored 96 goals last year. And yes that would go up with Nash having a world class center.

    Krieder (22) Stepan (18) Cally (27) 67 goals? And even that number could go up. If Stepan takes his game to a new level. Or if other teams do waste all of their best on preventing the top line from scoring. And if the 3rd line pitches in some.

  8. Langer says:

    Super lines rarely work. If you put them out on the PP then yeah it makes sense. But the thoughts of Kreider and Nash with a smart kid like stephan makes more sense to me. Cally with Gabby and Richards makes a ton of sense, and gives you speed on the third line with hagelin and hopefully a youngster like bourke. This could be a very fast team that pressures hard in the offensive zone. But time will tell.

  9. mike says: