In my last article detailing the shake-up needed for the San Jose Sharks, I laid the foundation that the first step should not be a drastic one. The Sharks need to adjust playing time and line combinations to see if they can get more out of this roster before making changes to it, behind the bench or in the front office.
Todd McLellan is already doing this, but needs to settle on combinations and give them long enough to work or fail. I suggest these combinations should be more mindful of players complimenting one another's skill sets over merely rewarding players for solid play.
To that end, I have divided the forwards so that each fits into two groups. They either rely more on size or skating (though most actually are above average in both) or passing or shooting.
Skaters: Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, Torrey Mitchell, Andrew Murray, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski. I would also put occasional starter Benn Ferriero more in this category than the one based on power.
Size: Ryane Clowe, Brad Winchester, Michal Handzus, Jamie McGinn, Joe Thornton, Andrew Desjardins and Frazer McLaren.
This gives the Sharks seven of each category, a great balance. Each line must have at least one from each.
There are only four forwards who are clearly better at passing than shooting: Thornton, Havlat, Clowe and Handzus. Therefore, one must be on each line to feed the shooters.
Ideally, you want at least one right-handed shot on each line. However, only Pavelski, Mitchell and Ferriero are right-handed.
The blue line is similar. Dan Boyle, Jason Demers and Justin Braun are more offensively-oriented and rely mostly on their skating and/or puck-moving skills.
By contrast, Douglas Murray, Colin White and Jim Vandermeer rely more on their size and are stay-at-home defensemen. Brent Burns has great size but is not stay-at-home, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is a skater who is defense-first.
With four big players and four skaters, four defensive-oriented and four offensive-minded players, you want a balance on each pair. Since Burns, Boyle, Demers and Braun are right-handed, the team can have one of each on all pairings, too.
With that in mind, here are my suggested lines and pairs...