Line 1: Filip Forsberg — Ryan O’Reilly — Luke Evangelista
Everyone knows that Forsberg and O’Reilly are essentially locks on the top line. Forsberg is the only veteran forward that is returning on this team, and O’Reilly is the only top-six center that has played in the league for more than one full season.
First of all, Evangelista earned it after the way he played on the team towards the end of last year. His combination of talent and knowing what to do with the puck was very fun to watch, and it helped him put up an impressive seven goals and eight assists in the first 24 games of his career.
Evangelista was also consistent with how he made his presence felt, as he really did not have any off nights. It earned him a 16:34 average time and anyone who ever watched the Predators under John Hynes knows that you really had to earn that as a rookie.
Evangelista absolutely deserves the chance to play alongside two gifted and experienced guys in Forsberg and O’Reilly, and that would benefit the team more than putting Nyquist there. If the Predators brought in more veterans to get the most out of the youth, they need to have a balance of youth and veterans on their lines.
Young guys benefit from playing with more tenured guys because it helps them learn the game at the highest level, and masks their mistakes more than if they did not have that support. Forsberg does not need Nyquist playing alongside him or vice versa, but the less experienced guys could use one of them as line-mates.