UA-59049186-1 Blackhawks Off-season Update: The Way Forward - Forwards - Good if it Goes

Blackhawks Off-season Update: The Way Forward – Forwards

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After game two of the Stanley Cup Final, I was asked on Twitter what the way forward is for the Blackhawks. Earlier in the day, Chief at Barstool wrote this explaining how the salary cap is determined, why the players may vote to not use the escalator, and what the Hawks’ cap situation may look like. It’s a well-written piece, so I don’t need to restate that stuff here. The long and short of it is: the Hawks face an uphill battle and it’s even worse if the players vote to not use the escalator. All is not lost, though: remember, this past season, the Hawks ended up with 104 points and some very nice production from young players. They have some options already and they have Stan Bowman to work his magic.

Option A: Split up Kane and Panarin, re-tool from within

The lines

Artemi PanarinJonathan ToewsRichard Panik

Tyler MotteArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat – Nick SchmaltzMarian Hossa

Ryan HartmanTanner KeroJohn Hayden

The analysis

First of all, we’re assuming Marcus Kruger is gone and Alex DeBrincat plays in the NHL next year. From what I’ve seen, I think he can. If Bowman thinks otherwise, move Hartman up to 3LW and put Vinnie Hinostroza in at 4LW. In this scenario, Toews gets some much-needed help. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s nobody in the league I would trade Tazer for. You could say Sidney Crosby and that would be acceptable and in a couple years, even I’ll say Connor McDavid if for no other reason than age, but even so, 2 players is not a lot. Be that as is may, Toews is not the scorer Crosby and McDavid are and is not going to turn into that guy. He needs some help and this team still had not replaced Brandon Saad. Hopefully after a second-straight first-round exit, it’s sunk in that “Tazer turns third-liners into first-liners” wears off in the post-season when everyone elevates their games. I put Tyler Motte with Patrick Kane because where Motte really excelled in college was in getting to the right spot to score. At Michigan, he had Kyle Connor to get him the puck in said spot. In Chicago, Kaner has made spectacular passes for years. Anisimov centers the line because it needs some bite, though I’d be lying if I said Anisimov’s lack of skill at the face-off dot didn’t worry me.

Option B: Split up Kane and Panarin, deal Anisimov, look for top 6 F

The lines

Panarin – Toews – Panik

[Power forward] – Schmaltz – Kane

DeBrincat – Kero – Hossa

Hartman – Hinostroza – Motte

The analysis

Nick Schmaltz looks like he can be a legitimate top 6 F for the Hawks and this is the only way I can see that playing out because it sure looks like the Hawks are going to need him to play center and a line of Panarin – Schmaltz – Kane lacks bite. It’s missing someone to get to the front of the net.

Option C: Deal Anisimov, bring in help for Toews

The lines

[Playmaker] – Toews – Panik

Panarin – Kero – Kane

Hartman – Dennis Rasmussen – Hossa

Motte – Schmaltz – DeBrincat

The analysis

I think I like this option best because it gives the Hawks four groups who should all work well together. I’m slightly leery about the idea of Tanner Kero in a top 6 role, but he was solid during the regular season and was one of the few guys I wasn’t mad at in the playoffs. Hinostroza could play 3C or 4C if you want to move Schmaltz up to 3C. I’d like to keep Schmaltz with Motte and DeBrincat, though, as he’s a better facilitator than Hinostroza and could help that line be a quick, exciting, and high-scoring one.

The defense will be a little tougher to adress and we’ll look at that group once there’s a little more clarity as to who will be around.

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

E-mail: schroeder.giig@gmail.com

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