First off I'd like to thank you for taking the time out to read the various posts and to go even further by asking a question. Before I found the site I actually spent most of my time playing the computer with line changes and offsides on. I know auto line changes are a bit different than manual since the CPU likes to match the checking line against Sc1, especially when a team is leading so its pretty important to make sure you have some quality guys on that Chk line.
I think Raph gives you a pretty solid break down on how to value your roster spots. I think the extra things I would throw in are skating and endurance would take a higher premium for me than usual. With line changes on, you cant really slam on the C button to get those turbo boosts, otherwise your team is gonna be gassed in short order, especially those low endurance guys. If you combine poor skating with poor endurance then you can be in serious trouble. Luckily Detroit avoids this problem for the most part, Pittsburgh will be a bit more tricky.
My Detroit lines:
SC 1: Fedorov-Yzerman-Probert
SC 2: Ysebaert-Ciccarelli-Ogrodnick
I would try to avoid Ray Sheppard as he is slow and his endurance is below average. Also, I'd try to beef up my Chk line with my best defensive players which the 3 I've included are the best defensive forwards for Detroit and they have just enough skill to take advantage of a team that is pressing for a goal. Not too many differences from Raph, so I don't think you can go wrong with either set.
As for Pitt...
SC 1: Stevens-Lemieux-Mullen
SC 2: Jagr-Francis-McEachern
Pittsburgh really tests my theories as they have several slow, heavy, and low endurance players. Line 1: Lemieux and Stevens both have very high endurance and should be a good combo together because they can keep up with each other. Mullen gives nice weight variety as he is easily the lightest player on this line, he has a scoring touch to boot. I think the D pair here is the most balanced Pittsburgh can offer and it doesn't make the line too heavy by inserting Murphy over Stanton. Plus, Stanton is just a poor mans Murphy so I dont think you lose much.
Line 2: Jagr and Francis should do well with each other as Francis is essentially the best offensive weapon left on the roster for Jagr to feed. McEachern is a role player with good endurance who can keep up with the pace of play and pot his easy chances. Murphy is an obvious choice as he is the best defender remaining, he should be able to further boost this line offensively where needed. Where Pittsburgh really struggles is with its 4th D man, they do not have a good option but Paek is probably the best of the bunch as he has decent endurance and is the fastest remaining player to choose from.
Chk: It's really hard to put together a traditional checking line here as the Pens simply do not have the personnel available. Tippett is a well below average player but hes the only player with decent skating as well as some endurance. Tocchet is a skilled player but is incredibly slow and heavy. He doesn't really fit in well with anyone so he kind of needs some lightweight guys to carry him around. Straka is the best checker in Pittsburgh but his endurance is extremely low so you really have to pick your spots with him to be effective. The defense is just the best of the rest as Ramsey has acceptable agility and endurance ratings. K. Smauelsson should be fine in his own zone but he's liability in transition or with the puck on his stick. You'll want Kjell out there though as the rest of the D corps is really, really bad.
Pittsburgh is kind of brutal in general and even more so with line changes on. If you can, just steer clear of them. I'll rank my top 5 line change teams below off the top of my head.
1. Montreal (3 good lines, 2.5 solid D pair and a top end G)
2. Boston (Depth galore at all positions)
3. Detroit (Top end F talent, 6 plus defenders, and a great Chk line)
4. Calgary (2 great lines and 6 plus defenders, shaky G)
5. Chicago (1 great line and top G, shaky depth)
Honorable Mentions: Vancouver (Speed & depth), Los Angeles (2 insane offensive lines and solid D, abysmal G), Quebec (3 solid lines), Buffalo (1 insane F line, a top G, and then very average depth)
I'd try to stay away from these non expansion teams.
- Islanders (one good F line, tons of unspectacular D, slow depth F and the worst G)
- Pittsburgh (As discussed above)
- St. Louis (slow, heavy, terrible depth)
-Edmonton (slow, heavy, low endurance, bad passing)
That pretty much leaves Dallas, Hartford, NJ, NYR, Philly, Toronto, Washington & Winnipeg as your middle tier teams with various strengths and weaknesses. Generally these teams lack depth or top end skill/speed.
If I had to rank the expansion teams I'd go...TB, SJ, OTW, FLA, & Anh at the bottom.