Sure it’s only the first day of on ice activities at training camp and we shouldn’t read too much into who was where, but there were some very interesting line combo’s on day one. Aside from reuniting the Steve Ott- Mikhail Grigorenko- Ville Leino line, the next most interesting tidbit was to see who skated on the first line with Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson and no it wasn’t Drew Stafford, in fact he wasn’t even in their session. Instead Marcus Foligno filled the void on the first line during the first on-ice session.
Aside from the whole captaincy debate, the biggest storyline for training camp is who will play with Vanek and Hodgson on the top line. Getting a top line that gels together and has great chemistry is no easy challenge, so one would think Ron Rolston would want to get that chemistry going with his first-line as soon as possible so they can gel together throughout camp. Now that the Sabres know Hodgson will be sticking around for a while, a good strategy for the Sabres would be to pair him with another young player who should be sticking around through the rebuild so they can build chemistry. Imagine if the Sabres could keep a line of Vanek-Hodgson-Foligno for the next two seasons, that line would be flying high.
Would Foligno on the top line be everyone’s first guess? Probably not. But, when you think about playing him on the first line with Hodgson, it makes sense. Both are young players at the turning point in their careers. At 22 and 23 respectively, they both have a couple of years of NHL experience but, are almost ready to take their games to the next level. Having the two play together could only help them grow together and possibly become a top duo in the league.
It also wouldn’t hurt the young Foligno to learn from someone like Vanek. He’s always been a solid consistent scorer, if that could rub off on Foligno, who has the potential to be a top power-forward maybe he’ll turn into a lethal scoring threat for the Sabres.
Although Foligno is young, he’s a very mature hockey player with tremendous hockey IQ. He knows what he has to do, what is expected of him and understands when he’s not playing up to par. He wants a bigger role with the Sabres and would thrive with the opportunity to play on the first line with Hodgson and Vanek. Hodgson and Vanek already have great chemistry together, adding Foligno too that mix could only help the youngsters game and give him an added boost of confidence. Another great thing about having Foligno play with Hodgson and Vanek is his willingness to do the dirty work. He’ll drive the net, battle in the corners, drop the mitts and lay big hits, which will help open up the ice for his linemates.
It’s only the first day of camp and lots could change by tomorrow, Foligno could be on the fourth line, but it was very interesting to see him on the top line for day one. I’d definitely like to see Foligno play at least one pre-season game with Vanek and Hodgson to see how the line looks, but it sounds like it could be a winning line. Do you like seeing Marcus Foligno on the top line?