The first line has been effective almost all season, why should there be a change? Giroux is one of the best players in the game, there are times when Voracek can look like the best player on the ice, and Hartnell...well he's #HartnellDown. This is a change that should wait until the Summer, but I think it's something that has to be done.
Full disclaimer: I've never really been a big fan of Hartnell.
When you have a line with two players as skilled as Voracek and Giroux, who aren't that big and not always physical, Hartnell can fit right in there to create screens, deflections, and clean up rebounds. The problem is, that's the maximum value I see with him, just an average power forward. I think his skill set is easily replaceable, and if they could find someone who brought the same physical aspect to the first line but could skate, the line would be much more effective.
A big, physical guy who could actually skate the puck in would reduce the pressure on having Giroux or Voracek carry the puck in on the rush and it would reduce the amount of times they'd need to dump it in. If he could skate it in, or get open for a pass maybe 10% more often, and not be laying on the ice, that's a lot more chances for Giroux and Voracek to make plays over the course of a season, or even over a playoff series. Even if they did need to dump it in, he'd be able to go in and chase it and not trip over the goal line half the time, instead of Giroux and Voracek making most of the successful retrievals. Right now he is near useless on the forecheck (besides that goal against Washington off the Green turnover he forced).
There'd still be a big body in front of the net, but the if top line had some of the forechecking duties spread out, and needed to dump it in less that would mean better possession. That' not mentioning if the player is less of a liability defensively or with penalties- that would just be a bonus. A guy like Simmonds is someone who I think would fit in perfectly on the wing.
Earlier in the week Lanceloco made a case for Matt Read on the first line. I think Read would be an upgrade over Hartnell, but if there's a big body to take the physicality off of Giroux and Voracek, and score garbage goals, he would fill the role better. The UFA market this Summer doesn't have many affordable options, so a trade could fill this need.
Well, if you made it all the way down, thanks for reading my first post and let me know what you think in the comment section.