There is a great possibility that the Blackhawks are going to make more moves this offseason, especially because they are reported to be $400,000 over the leagues $70,900,000 salary cap. But if they didn’t, what would their lines look like? Here is my prediction.
Forward Line 1:
Teravainen – Toews – Hossa
Toews and Hossa are almost guaranteed to be paired on the first line together because they have been for the past few years. Saad completed this line last year, so there is an opening. I think Teravainen deserves top 6 playing time and can learn a lot from playing with Toews and hossa.
Forward Line 2:
Versteeg – Anisimov – Kane
Kane and Versteeg started off last season with great chemistry, but after Versteeg’s injury they did not play the same together. Everyone is hoping they can restore what they had when Versteeg started off last year with 27 points in 34 games. The only problem is they won’t have the same center between them this year, as Richards signed with Detroit. Anisimov is the best fit for this position. You can read my article about the Hawk’s second line center options to find out why.
Forward Line 3:
Garbutt – Dano – Tikhonov
Assuming Bickell is traded, Garbutt can easily replace him even though he is used to playing center. Dano excelled at center for Columbus last year, but I wouldn’t put him on the second line especially after signing Anisimov to a long, lucrative contract extension. Tikhonov has played the last 4 seasons in the KHL. The former first round pick tallied 115 points in 185 games in Russia. He may have the skills to play top 6, but I’d start him on the third line because the transition from the KHL to the NHL is tricky.
Forward Line 4:
Desjardins – Kruger – Shaw
This fourth line played well together in the playoffs last year so there is no reason to break them up.
Bickell – Nordstrom – Morin – Tropp – Hartman – McNeill
Hopefully Bryan Bickell will be traded because of his cap. I believe both Morin and Nordstom will be on the main roster for injury replacement, but will not start. Although both Hartman and McNeill could play in the NHL next year, I believe they will both play one more season in the AHL because the amount of forwards the Hawks have signed. Tropp has no chance at cracking the main roster.
Defense Pairing 1:
Keith – Rundblad
These two were paired for much of the second half of the season and Coach Q liked what he saw. Keith is without a doubt one of the best defensemen in the League, and was a +12 last season. Rundblad learned a lot from playing alongside Keith and was a +17.
Defense Pairing 2:
Hjalmersson – Seabrook
These two also played a good part of last year together. Although Seabrook can play top 2, Coach Q likes to balance out all the lines. this is a defense heavy line that can keep the puck out of their net.
Defense Pairing 3:
Daley – Van Riemsdyk
Daley is a great defenseman to be playing top 6, but he is replacing Oduya. Oduya played on the third line defensive pair for most of last year (Obviously not in the playoffs) even though he could have played higher up. Like I said earlier it is about balance. A veteran like Daley can also help out a young guy like Van Riemsdyk.
Cumiskey is the only other defenseman that the Hawks have signed that is capable of playing in the NHL when there are injuries. It definitely would not hurt for them to sign another depth defenseman from free agency.