Chicago Blackhawks’ 2017-18 Midterm Grades For Forward Corps

By Randy Holndoner
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chicago blackhawks
NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 23: Alex DeBrincat /

Patrick Kane: A (40 games, 40 points, 17G, 23A, minus-1)

Patrick Kane keeps doing Patrick Kane things — averaging at least a point a game, finding ice where there is none and creating scoring chances out of nothing.  The loss of Artemi Panarin obviously hurt him, but he’s a point-a-night guy.

He’s always going to be a superstar in this league because of the raw talent he has.  Being paired with Schmaltz and, more recently, Alex DeBrincat, let’s hope he can rub off on them, too.

Alex DeBrincat: B+ (40 games, 26 points, 13G, 13A, plus-4)

DeBrincat was to be too small, they said (5-foot-7).  He was only good with the Erie Otters because he was lined up with Connor McDavid, they said.  DeBrincat has heard it all before and still shows people otherwise.

He has had a good rookie season thus far.  He has caught up with the speed of the game, which took a couple of weeks.  Now, he is tied on the team for second-most goals (13).  Not bad for a 19-year-old kid who has been bounced around on literally every line so far this year.

Brandon Saad: B- (40 games, 22 points, 12G, 10A, plus-6)

Saad was brought back to Chicago in a blockbuster trade that sent Panarin to Columbus.  the thought was that he was the spark for Jonathan Toews and he has not been the same since.

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  • Saad was on fire to start the season with six goals in the first six games.  He’s had six goals in his last 34 games.  Granted, with the breath of fresh air that is Vinnie Hinostroza, he has found the scoresheet more often.  Let’s hope that continues.

    Ryan Hartman: C+ (36 games, 19 points, 7G, 12a, plus-6)

    Hartman has had a decent year so far, but has struggled at times to find his game.  He’s on pace for 14 goals, which is fewer than last year’s rookie effort of 19.

    His overall game has gotten better, but the team needs him to be more than what he is currently providing.

    Richard Panik: D+ (35 games, 20 points, 5G, 10A, plus-2)

    Panik has not played good hockey this year.  He’s nowhere near on pace to score the 22 goals that he had last year.  He’s been a healthy scratch and has found a hard time finding a line to skate on.

    It was thought that having Saad, Toews and Panik on a line would make a line to be reckoned with.  That has not panned out nearly as hoped.

    Patrick Sharp: D (37 games, 11 points, 5G, 6A, minus-6)

    Looking for some of that old, black magic, Sharp, up till recently, needed to find a new wand.  He must have found it, as he has scored twice in the last two games for the Blackhawks.  Or maybe that healthy-scratch benching did something to help, after not scoring in his last 12 games.

    For the hip surgery and concussion he had last year, it’s hard to expect much out of him.  He will need to continue that pace in hopes of getting the Blackhawks into the playoffs this year.

    John Hayden: B- (39 games, 11 points, 3G, 8A, minus-4)

    Hayden has played well this year for the little minutes he has been given.  Although he has had times on other lines, his chemistry on the fourth line with Wingels and Lance Bouma fit him well.

    He’s a big body that brings a lot of energy.  His physical presence has helped change momentum, whether it be a fight or a big hit.

    Lance Bouma: C+ (40 games, 8 points, 3G, 5A, plus-5)

    Bouma, a free-agent signing, has played his fourth-line duties well this year.  No one expected that line to provide the amount of energy it has, but Bouma has been a big part of that.

    His role on the team is not vital by any means, but in what he is being asked of, he is doing it well.

    Vinnie Hinostroza: A (10 games, 7 points, 3G, 4A, plus-2)

    Yes, it is only 10 games.  The question is more why is it 10 games?  With the struggles of Panik and Sharp, Hinostroza should have been called up long before now.

    In his 10 games, Hinostroza, especially in his last two games, has brought the top line back to life.  He currently has a four-game point streak. His speed will make a difference to a team that looks slow.

    The Blackhawks are going to have to get their “A” game going soon and often if they plan on making the playoffs this year.  Their lines seem to be set now.

    Next: What The Blackhawks Must Do To Make Playoffs

    When Anisimov comes back from injury, the lines will need to be finessed again.  They need to stay healthy and find the energy that the fourth line produces.  If they can’t and they miss the playoffs, there will be more than just a shake-up this offseason.