Erie Otters Reunion Can Benefit Chicago Blackhawks’ Second Line
By John Aubert
The Chicago Blackhawks recently traded forward Nick Schmaltz for forwards Brendan Perlini and 2015’s third overall pick Dylan Strome from the Arizona Coyotes. In a highlighted trade deal, the Blackhawks’ second forward line can be heavily rewarded.
Adding Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini to the Chicago Blackhawks was crucial. Regardless of how some may have loved Nick Schmaltz, being a hometown hero and all, we have to accept the fact that he wasn’t pulling through for the team. He was hesitant offensively and wasn’t fitting in well with what his counterparts had the offer. Despite being a great defensive forward, the team definitely had better options around the league when offering Schmaltz, and made a defined move in this trade.
When it comes to the new additions, it might seem like a better deal on paper. However, trading one player for two well-rounded promising forwards is something a general manager like Stan Bowman would move on in a second.
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For those who don’t know, Strome played with Alex DeBrincat and Connor McDavid on the Erie Otters of the OHL. In 2017, DeBrincat and Strome helped lift the Otters to victory in the Memorial Cup Final. Now, bringing back the two figures who had the highest scoring numbers together on the Otters to the Blackhawks second forward line might just be the lethal move this team needs to be electrified again.
DeBrincat (65G, 62A–127 points) and Strome (22G, 53A–75 points) had a combined 202 points in their final year with the Otters, complimenting each other on their road to victory. Since their split, both have found individual success. DeBrincat, who had 52 points (28G, 24A) his rookie year, has been promising in his sophomore season with 18 points (10G, 8A). Strome, on the other hand, is struggling to find success in lackluster Arizona, only acquiring 15 total points over the past two seasons. However, with this reunion, we could be seeing an electrifying second line that can tear up the league.
Second Line Could Be The Best Line
Imagine having DeBrincat and Patrick Kane on the wing centered by Strome. Now, Strome hasn’t been the biggest offensive asset for the Coyotes. He’s only had three goals and three assists on the year, which isn’t ideal for a top pick like himself. However, with new elite counterparts and a line that has been feeding this team success regardless of who is at center, it can be ideal in not only lifting himself to new heights but the team as well.
Not only can he help scoring wise, but Strome is lethal when it comes to face-offs. Strome has a 58.0% face-off percentage, while Nick Schmaltz had a mere 43.3%. In a situation where potential scoring, eagerness, and face-off priority are at stake, this trade makes a lot more sense.
We’re looking at a second line who can have face-off dominance in the offensive zone, creating more goals and maybe even fixing that atrocious power play we’ve been having to witness all year. This line will revolve around the center density but will go full circle when it comes to offensive production. It might not be instantaneously, but it’s bound to happen.
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Stan Bowman may have made some mistakes this year, but we’re hoping the road to redemption is starting to be more visible. This was a great move for the Chicago Blackhawks that will stand the test of time, and in a doomed season like this, they have lots of it.