You all have probably heard through the various sports media outlets that the Chicago Blackhawks are deciding to go in a different direction this offseason and into the next, without the services of veteran Slovak forward, Michal Handzus. Broadcaster/analyst Bob McKenzie who is with TSN broke the news via twitter and tweeted, “CHI has told Michal Handzus it is going in a different direction. Big veteran Slovak centre will be going to UFA. #TSN” So my question now is what will be that different direction? Let’s take a look at the different directions that Stan Bowman can choose from to make this a stronger team in their battle to reclaim the cup next season.
Promoting within organization
The tight budget restraints the Chicago Blackhawks have to deal with while trying to resign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for the rest of their careers will have a direct effect on which direction they decide to go. Michal Handzus’s poor play towards the end of the season and into the playoffs gave Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger more experience playing further up the depth chart. However, they still need to work on their all-around game to earn the full time job of playing in the second line center position.
It would be nice to have someone that can fill the position who is very good defensively so they can also help the team out on the penalty kill as Michal Handzus did in his stint. Another viable option the Chicago Blackhawks may take another look into is Ben Smith who was placed in the same role during the end of the Blues playoff series and in the beginning of the Wild playoff series. Joel Quenneville has definitely showed some trust; Smith just would need to be consistent night in and night out.
In a perfect world the new Finnish sensation, Teuvo Teräväinen would be the cure all to the second line center woes but my concerns are that at the young age of 19 you would be putting too much pressure on him too soon. In the end you will get much more value out of Teuvo Teräväinen giving him at least a season at Rockford to get a better grasp of the type of game he will need to play in the NHL to be able to be successful. The Blackhawks could really dig themselves a hole if they assume he is the answer and it ends up backfiring with lack of production. Then they will be right back in the same place frequently changing lines and trying to create a new spark due to the inconsistent second line center play.