1. Find A Quality Second Line Center
Feb 3, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers centerSam Gagner
(89) talks to linesman Andy McElman (90) about a call during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Second line center. Say it to any true Blackhawks fan and you’ll see a grimace of pain come across their face. This position hasn’t become a problem in the past few years, but has been a chronic issue for over a decade. The tradition lives on with Michal Handzus, who at 36, can’t keep up with the likes of reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Kane, and will likely retire at the end of the season, leaving Chicago with a hole that needs to be patched sooner rather than later.
The Blackhawks need a young, energetic pivot that can win faceoffs, have good puck protection, and is a fast skater. Over the past few years, the combination of Dave Bolland and Handzus have only satisfied two of these at once.
Players like Sam Gagner come to mind in this situation. Gagner, who was Kane’s teammate with the London Knights in 2006-07, has proven that he has the natural talent to be an explosive second-line C, (an eight-point game against the Blackhawks might come to mind).The Oilers would likely ask for more youth in return, meaning the ‘Hawks could kill two birds with one stone and move Brandon Pirri from #2 away for Gagner. The Blackhawks would face a tough Cap situation after making this trade, however, but the thought of Gagner supplying the puck to #88 once again is a tantalizing possibility.
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