Yes, the fourth line could use a different element. And that element is skill.
Like I've said before, Miller and Glendening are possession black holes. Having them together on the same line and hard-matching that line against the opposition's best players is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot.
We don't need a Matt Martin or a Mike Brown. We don't need "physicality." We need to be so deep, top-to-bottom, that our fourth-liners are overqualified and could just as easily be our third-liners. Sheahan is our 3C? Then, ideally, we're so deep at forward that he's our 4C. This kind of depth is what all Cup-winning teams have in common. Unfortunately for us, you need to have some serious top-end talent in order for this to be feasible. We lack that proven elite talent, and, as a result, all of our players are asked to do more than what they're realistically capable of doing (e.g. Tatar, Nyquist). And this is our plight, in a nutshell.
Mind you, I believe Larkin and Athanasiou are going to become cornerstone centermen. I just don't think they're there yet.
Though it's not the most pressing issue facing the team, bringing Miller back was unnecessary. He's not particularly good at anything and we have a lot of guys who can play PK.
While I don't disagree that depth is integral to challenging for the Cup, I don't think we're anywhere near the point of our fourth liners being overqualified third liners.
We got beat by Tampa in part because our powerplay was atrocious, but we also got taken to the cleaners along the boards. Tampa was able to win a lot of 50/50 physical battles down low. The Pens, while not a mean team by any stretch of the imagination, were able to win a lot of puck battles along the boards against the Sharks. We need players that can do this all throughout the lineup.
I share your expectations for Larkin and Athanasiou.
Few more names to hit the FA list tomorrow: Korpikoski (EDM), Carle (TB), Boll (CBJ), Seidenberg (BOS), Greene (LA), Jackman (NSH).
All being bought out.
Tortorella scratched Boll a lot last year - not surprised that he got bought out. I think it'll be difficult for him to find another NHL contract. Guys like him have dropped like flies these past few years.