Apr 13, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler (17) moves the puck in front of Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo (31) during the second period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Since the Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews era began in Chicago, the Blackhawks have been searching for a second line center. The lack of a true second line center has been masked for several years, but the weakness reared its ugly head this season. The LA Kings showed the Blackhawks that you do indeed need a second line center. The Kings overwhelmed the Blackhawks with their positional depth.
With all of that being said, is the Blackhawks second line center for next season in the organization, or should the Blackhawks be exploring some big name options? There are three big name players that have requested out of their current situations: Ryan Kesler, Joe Thornton, and now Jason Spezza. All three of these players would fill the second line center void.
Let’s look at each player:
Ryan Kesler: 6’2 202 lbs, Center who shoots Right handed. The scouting report on Kesler according to the Hockey News is: polished two way player can play offense and defense well. He has size and is money in front of the net on the power play. His career potential is an excellent two way center. Kesler does not come without his flaws also. He sometimes crosses the line to get into people’s heads and can play the body too much.
Joe Thornton: 6’4 220lbs, Center who shoots left handed. The scouting report on Thornton according to the Hockey News is: “great on-ice vision and creates numerous scoring chances for his lines mates. He has terrific size, strength, and control with the puck. He is also good defensively”. His career potential is an excellent veteran center. Thornton is an older player and has been labeled as “not clutch” throughout his career.
Jason Spezza: 6’3 216lbs, Center who shoots right handed. The scouting report on Spezza according to the Hockey News is: He has a wealth of offensive talent; he uses his size and reach well in the offensive zone. His defense is improving. His career potential is an excellent veteran play making center. Now the knocks on Spezza are that he turns the puck over in the offensive zone too much and his play without the puck is average at best.
Now all three of these players would be great additions to the Blackhawks, but is it realistic that Blackhawks can get any of them? Kesler ‘s cap hit is 5 million, Thornton’s cap hit is 7 million, and so Spezza’s cap hit is 7 million dollars. If the Blackhawks want to acquire one of these three players they would need to move Patrick Sharp 5.9 million and someone else or Brent Seabrook 5.8 million and someone else to make the dollars matchup.
My personal preference is that Blackhawks somehow free Kesler from Vancouver. He is the youngest and best defensive player of the three players on the trade market. He also gives them another net front presence on their always struggling powe rplay. Everyone knows that Coach Quenneville values defense. Who do you think the Blackhawks should acquire??
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