With training camp ending, the Blackhawks will have their roster set for the upcoming season. They will also have their lines set for the start of the season.
Here are the projected lines for the 2013-14 season.
1st line : Bryan Bickell on the left wing, Jonathan Toews at center, and Patrick Kane on the right wing. This line was successful in the Stanley Cup Finals. If it isn’t broke do not fix. Barring injury this will be the 1st line for the entire season.
2nd Line: Patrick Sharp on the left wing, Michal Handzus at center, and Marian Hossa on the right wing. This was the second line after acquiring Michal Handzus last season. With Brandon Saad failing to adapt to the center position, Handzus will resume his role as the second line center. This line should change by the season’s end. Brandon Pirri should take over the second line center role and Michal Handzus should become a fourth line player/ part time player. End of the year second line is: Sharp, Pirri, Hossa.
3rd line: Brandon Saad on the left wing, Andrew Shaw at center, and Jimmy Hayes on the right wing. This line has dramatically changed from last season. Saad moves down from the second line and Hayes comes up from Rockford. This line could be a very dangerous line for teams to defend against. Barring any injuries this line should remain the same the whole season. Saad gives this line a ton of offensive pop.
4th line: Brandon Bollig on the left wing, Marcus Kruger at center, and Ben Smith on the right wing. The fourth line is filled with young players. Kruger needs to step up his offensive game this season. The Blackhawks hope that Boling offensive output continues. This line could change based on Bollig’s play. Jeremy Morin could find himself on the left wing Morin is more of an offensive threat than Bollig. If Handzus goes down expect Kruger to play second line center. Pirri would then take over the fourth line center duties. Once Pirri gets comfortable on the ice, expect Kruger to resume the 4th line center duties. The finals fourth line will be Morin, Kruger, and Smith.
Penalty Kill: Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith: Coach Q was looking for the next Michael Frolik. The player to assume the role of the Frolik is Ben Smith. Smith has impressed enough people to be entrusted with the penalty kill. Smith has shined this training camp and during his limited time with the Blackhawks. Do not rule out Jimmy Hayes playing big minutes on the PK.
The defensive pairing should remain the same this season. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are the top defensive pair. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya are the second defensive pair. The last pair is Nick Leddy and Michal Rozsival/Sheldon Brookbank. The Rozsival/Brookbank worked last regular season. Coach Q is going to not change to much with the final pairings.
Other news and notes: Theo Peckman and Brad Winchester were assigned to the Rockford IceHogs today.