Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ 5 Questions Heading Into All-Star Break

By Colin Likas
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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What do the Blackhawks do to bolster their top-line left wing spot?

This has been a question since Brandon Saad was shipped to Columbus in the 2015 offseason. And the Blackhawks still don’t have an answer, trying everyone from Andrew Shaw to Hartman in the role.

I don’t think Hartman is necessarily a bad fit there, I just think his skillset is better suited to him running over weaker foes on the bottom six. I think Toews needs more-skilled athletes to work with on both wings than what he currently possesses.

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Ultimately, I think Hossa winds up back on Toews’ right wing. So then it’s a talk of whether you want to break up the second line to get Artemi Panarin or Patrick Kane on the other wing or if you want to dip into trading for a forward.

The Blackhawks’ last foray into this effort landed them Andrew Ladd and left them with an underperforming forward who signed with the New York Islanders the following offseason. This doesn’t mean general manager Stan Bowman should be gunshy this time around.

The Blackhawks have reportedly kicked the tires on Detroit’s Tomas Tatar and Gustav Forsling. I think either guy would be a good improvement at top-line left wing, someone to capably keep up alongside Toews and Hossa.

Patrick Sharp‘s name has been tossed about, but he’s such a liability right now with his concussion issues. I’m not sure the Blackhawks would be comfortable trying to fill such an important role with an aging, injured wing.

Maybe a team like Tampa Bay, which has good parts but finds itself in serious trouble in the playoff picture, would be willing to part with an asset. What would it take to get Jonathan Drouin this time around? Faxes From Uncle Dale kicked around the idea of Valtteri Filppula or Jannik Hansen being options.

There are ways Bowman could be looking at this we can’t even imagine. But ultimately, I think he’s going to make a trade to fill this void. While the Blackhawks can comfortably staff their bottom six without a trade, the same can’t be said for this position.

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