The Blackhawks have a handful of quality, young prospects to place in their top-nine. Alex Nylander may not be one of them…
The Chicago Blackhawks have had a solid forward group for a long time now with Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat leading the charge. The bottom six now holds the personnel you need on classic third and fourth lines (depending on strategy), so now we have to ask the question: Where does Alex Nylander fit in the lineup?
Top six predictions:
Alex Debrincat – Kirby Dach/Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik – Toews/Dach – Henrik Borgstrom
The top-six is already full, so, hypothetically, the only open spots are on the third and fourth line. Tyler Johnson is the third-line center, so I think it’s okay to assume that the Blackhawks will run three skill, offensive lines, and one checking line. There is also Lukas Reichel to add to the equation, but he may do better with a year or so in the minors to start out. Even IF Toews was unable to start the season, Nylander would easily be passed over in favor of Reichel.
On the third line would include Brandon Hagel for sure, if he’s not slotted in the top six. Also on that line could be Dylan Strome, though he may be traded and Adam Gaudette really fits that third-line feel more anyway. A Hagel – Johnson – Gaudette line would be a great mix of speed, skill, and grit, full of guys you need to win.
So the third line is full.
And now there’s the fourth line, which includes players like Ryan Carpenter, Jujhar Khaira, Mackenzie Entwistle, and Mike Hardman. This line will be the checking, energy line, full of guys who can hit and make life difficult for the opposition. They will be grinding the opposition down the entire game, and Nylander does not fit the need of this line whatsoever. Therefore, the fourth line also is full.
With all four lines now full (with players to be shuffled around the top-nine), Nylander is nowhere to be found. The best idea for the Blackhawks now is to trade him, though the return would be minimal as he has done nothing to warrant anything else. Based on what I see on this Blackhawks roster, they have many effective forwards and top-end prospects who have jumped ahead of him on the depth chart. With a plethora of effective options, Nylander should be on his way out to find a new start elsewhere.