The Chicago Blackhawks know who their top two players are, but they don’t know who will play with them this season.
Toews and Kane played together throughout most of last season and had a slew of linemates along the way. This season could be different for the Blackhawks’ top line.
Having the same linemates helps build chemistry. Kane has found some success in the past when he was playing with different players, game in and game out. However, it was when he played an entire season with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov that Kane was most successful and consistent.
Last season, Toews and Kane were reunited to try and spark the offensive play of Jonathan Toews. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome were a legitimate second line, so the ‘Hawks had the luxury of putting Toews and Kane together. Now, the biggest question is: who should play with the two stars in 2019-20?
The Chicago Blackhawks have a few legitimate options for that top left-wing spot. Let’s take a closer look as to who those players are.
Brandon Saad, traded back to the Blackhawks in 2017, was pretty much guaranteed the first line left-wing spot. Then things did not go so well and now Saad is more of a third-line forward.
Saad still can be a top-line forward. He had one of his best seasons last year putting up 47 points primarily on the Blackhawks’ third line. Saad still has the speed and skill, just watch the video below of Saad speeding past the Minnesota Wild defense.
Brandon Saad can be a wrecking ball on the top line with Toews and Kane. Although, having him on the top line would really kill the overall depth of the Blackhawks’ bottom-six. Playing Saad on the third line might be a luxury the Blackhawks might want to keep moving forward.
Drake Caggiula will be back with the Blackhawks for his first full season with the team. Caggiula is probably the most likely pick to play alongside Toews and Kane next season. He played the second half of the season with the two stars after being traded to the Blackhawks from the Edmonton Oilers.
In Edmonton, Caggiula spent time playing on the same line as Connor McDavid, so he knows how to play with the best of the best. Last year, Caggiula was one of the only players with an edge on the roster. He got into a few fights and racked up the hits. However, now he believes they have more of that “edge” on the team.
With a player like Andrew Shaw now on the roster, Caggiula does not need to be the only physical presence going into the 2019-20 season. The Blackhawks could use his skill in the bottom six and not with Toews and Kane.
Andrew Shaw is someone anyone should want on their team. The Blackhawks were lucky to get Shaw back after a brief hiatus where Shaw played in Montreal. Shaw has changed since the Chicago Blackhawks have last seen him. He has become a more complete goal scorer and had his best season last year. Just check out his career stats.
Shaw can be seen as a more skilled Drake Caggiula, so if the Blackhawks want to improve their first line and add a bit more grit for Toews and Kane, Shaw might be the right move.
Whatever way the Blackhawks go the top line of the Chicago Blackhawks will be skilled. Putting Saad, Caggiula, or Shaw on the same line as Toews and Kane will be great any way you go. Toews and Kane are elite players and can help elevate the play of anyone on their line. We will see what happens when the Blackhawks drop the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 4th.