Apr 7, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) and left wing Brandon Saad (20) react to a goal scored by center Jonathan Toews (not pictured) against the Nashville Predators during the third period at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Predators 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Okay, so it’s a very, VERY early look at what the Chicago Blackhawks’ possible forward line combinations going into next season. It’s even more insane when our Head Coach is Joel Quenneville, who is a notorious line mixer and masher.
But don’t lie, you know you’ve been thinking about who’s going to be playing with who, in the upcoming season. Especially after the signing of a true 2nd line center, in Brad Richards. Yes, the offseason is still far from over, but let’s have some fun, shall we?
I just wish it was October, already…
So, the first line.
Yes, Patrick Sharp is currently on the roster and likely will be on opening night. This is a very good all-around line. All 3 are excellent offensively, and all 3 are at least above average defensively. Although, Sharp had a bit of an off-year, defensively, he was still solid. Toews was a Selke candidate and Hossa should be every year. This is the line that can do everything and do it well.
Similar to the first line, but more an offensively focused line. Saad is a do-it-all forward, much like the guys on the top-line. He’s a bit of a “Hossa-lite” as he is still developing his offensive game, at age 21. However, if his post-season says anything, 2014-2015 might be something of a breakout for Saad. The newly signed Richards is more of an offensively focused center that will hopefully compliment Kane and his dynamic offensive abilities. Richards is passable defensively, while Kane is below average. Although, Kane’s offensive contributions far and away make up for any defensive set-backs.
Here’s where things get a little murky, and in not a necessarily bad way. With the subtraction of Brandon Bollig, the bottom six figures to be more productive possession-wise. Bickell will hopefully do something more than hibernate before the playoffs, but with the Hawks’ depth, he is just fine on the third line. Shaw continues to develop into a decent center and hopefully that continues going into training camp. No one really knows what to expect from Versteeg. Upside is he moves gets over his post-knee surgery struggles and finds a way to be some very good offensive depth. If Versteeg can do what he was brought back to do, he will give the Hawks’ bottom six a huge offensive boost, and the Hawks as a whole, a gigantic luxury.
Morin and Smith will likely move up the depth chart throughout the season, as they have both showed very good offensive instincts, in their young careers. Kruger is an excellent 4th line center, and excels in his defensive zone. He has the least glamorous job of all of the Hawks’ forwards and he does an admirable job.
Much of this will change, as you know. Players like Peter Regin and Joakim Nordstrom will likely make their fair-share og appearances in the lineup. This is highly premature, but it’s fun to take an early, EARLY look at what will be on the ice for the Hawks, this season.
It’s also nice to already know that the Hawks are going to be better off, going into 2014-2015 than they were a month ago.