Much hoopla was made across the web yesterday and in newsprint today about Warren Peters being the new top line center for the Minnesota Wild. It's a sexy story line, and one that is difficult to pass up. It's the Paul Duetsch story, but with in-game implications. It is shocking. "Warren who is what now?"
The real question is... Is the Heatley - Peters - Setoguchi line really the top line for the Wild? Does it matter? In a world where labels are required, it certainly seems to matter. On the opposition white board, as the team prepares to shut down one line or another with their top checkers, which line are you looking at and most concerned about?
To me, it isn't the line with Heatley on it.
Make the jump for the reasoning.
The "top line" on any team is going to be the one generating the greatest threat to score. While the addition of Peters gives that line the defensive mind it needs, and gives a strong Wes Walz to Marian Gaborik vibe, until it is proven effective, it is simply an experiment. The thinking is that Peters gives the two snipers the chance to get out of the defensive end of the ice. Great plan. Will it work? Only with solid help from the defensemen, which has been lacking.
The numbers are similar between the top two lines:
Dany Heatley 30 pts. (13G, 17A) - Warren Peters 4 points (1G, 3A) - Devin Setoguchi 15 pts (9g, 6A) - 23 G, 26A
The current "top" line has the name recognition. Hard to argue that Heatley and Setoguchi aren't the top threat to score. For the number folks, the numbers say these teams are nearly equal. For the non-number folks, the second line looks like a much bigger threat. The speed on that line could be lethal, all three players have wicked shots, and the physical forecheck generated by Clutterbuck should help create some chances.
Look, it makes sense to label the Peters line the top line. It has two top six forwards with flashy names. However, last year, the Mikko Koivu line was not considered the biggest threat by opposing teams. If I am Ron Wilson, I'm less worried about Heatley and Setoguchi, and more concerned with the speed, shot, and physical play of the Cullen line.
Either way, the threat doesn't seem to be overly intimidating to much of anyone, so label them however you would like.