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A Dangerous and Deceptive Third Line: Matt Halischuk


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Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The one word many would use to describe the play of Matt Halischuk: hustle. The kid never gives up on a play. He uses his speed and tenacity to overwhelm his opponents and pick off the ensuing pass. He isn’t afraid to take any shots on net and that has resulted in Halischuk being seventh in goals scored by a Predator last season.

The chemistry between Halischuk and Bourque was evident last season when they were centered by Nick Spaling, but with the emergence of Craig Smith and the absence of Jordin Tootoo, Matt Halischuk could be in a position to set the scoring bar higher and help the Predators by providing an energy/goal scoring line that would give opposing coaches nightmares to cover.

Halischuk tied Colin Wilson in goals last season and while Wilson gets the acclaim of having the potential to be an offensive juggernaut, Halischuk sneakily put in the same amount of goals.

Why?

Because Halischuk fires the puck when he has the opportunity. He doesn’t take far away blasts like Tootoo does when just crossing the blue line. Halischuk is very patient and is extremely dangerous when someone is behind the net ready to feed it to him out front. He also capitalizes on picking off opponents passes or picking their pocket when they are attempting to leave their zone.

Guess who else had 15 goals and relatively the same amount of points last season in the RW category? Chris Stewart for St. Louis and Cal Clutterbuck for Minnesota. The big difference (aside from Halischuk doing it in fewer games) is value.

Chris Stewart -  15G 15A 30P +1     $2.875M

Cal Clutterbuck – 15G 12A 27P -4      $1.4M

Matt Halischuk – 15G 13A 28P +9      $712,500

The Predators can expect better things from Matt Halischuk this season with the retaining of line-mate Bourque and the possible centering of Craig Smith (if Smith doesn’t get bumped up the roster). Halischuk if another prototype Predator and as an afterthought in the Arnott trade, he has become a solid contributor to the organization. Even more so now that Tootoo has gone the way of the Winged Wheel, it’ll be up to Halischuk to pick up the slack.

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