Who is the odd man out in the Chicago Blackhawks' forward group?

With four free agent signings today, the Hawks now have a log jam at forward.
Carolina Hurricanes v Chicago Blackhawks
Carolina Hurricanes v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Last season, Connor Bedard was hung out to dry offensively. The Chicago Blackhawks ranked dead last in goals per game and ranked 27th of 32 in power play percentage. Bedard led all Hawks skaters in points by seven despite missing 14 games, and the team’s third leading scorer was 36-year-old Nick Foligno.

GM Kyle Davidson made sure that wouldn’t be the case next season. Today, he inked four forwards, Tyler Bertuzzi, Teuvo Teravainen, Pat Maroon, and Craig Smith, who will undoubtedly add some more firepower to an offense that desperately needed it.

Hawks fans shouldn’t expect tons of points from Smith or Maroon, but they add leadership and toughness. Bertuzzi and Teravainen, on the other hand, have proven they can produce as legit top-six forwards.

These signings are exciting and have given fans encouragement the Hawks could maybe even compete for a wild card spot next fall.

The issue is the Hawks now have too many forwards.

The team currently has 16 forwards who played NHL games last season on the roster, and there are only 12 available spots in the lineup each night. So, who will be the odd men out?

Despite playing 75 games last season, I imagine Smith signed in Chicago knowing he may not have a spot in the lineup for all 82 games this season. He’s 34 and has 928 career appearances in the NHL, I’m sure he will be okay with having a night off here and there.

The same goes for Maroon who is 36 and dressed only 51 times last season. So that takes care of two roster spots, but that still leaves two more.

My best guess is freshly re-signed Joey Anderson, will be scratched frequently throughout the season and one or both of Frank Nazar and Landon Slaggert will spend some time with Rockford despite decent debuts last spring.

This newfound forward depth can ultimately be a good thing for the Hawks. It allows young forwards to continue to develop without worrying about facing NHL competition every night. Meanwhile, it enables coach Luke Richardson to put an underperforming veteran up in the press box for a couple games without worrying he will be dressing an AHL caliber player.

Davidson turned a new page in Hawks history. Gone are the days of icing AHL rosters to tank for a high draft pick. The Hawks are a legit NHL team now, and every second of ice time will have to be earned.