The Chicago Blackhawks headed into the offseason with some major questions and the holes to match. Who will start in net when the Blackhawks open the 2012-13 season? How will the defense look coming out of training camp? Who is the second line center on this team? The hole at the 2C position is a question that has been lingering for several years since Patrick Sharp supposedly declared that he would sign an extension…as long as he played on the wing for the duration of that contract. Since then, the Blackhawks have played musical chairs with that position and heading into the 2012-13 season the position seems up in the air once again. Below are the possible fits, within the organization, for the second line center position and a few pros/cons for each player.
Pros - Kane has the most offensive upside of any possible candidate. Kane will have the puck on his stick more than he would on right wing. Kane will have more room for offensive creativity by playing a position that allows him “full access” of the entire ice.
Cons – Kane has a poor faceoff percentage. Kane is undersized which can lead to him being a defensive liability. Kane is a natural right wing and playing him at center might just open up another hole on the offense.
Pros – Kruger is a natural center. Kruger is defensively responsible at this position. Kruger could be the 2C of the future for the Blackhawks and getting him time at that position will only help.
Cons – Kruger has shown flashes of offense but overall he is what I consider a “black hole” at that position, there just isn’t a constant stream of offense. Kruger has a poor faceoff percentage. Kruger seemed in over his head when playing the position last year.
Pros – Bolland is defensively responsible, probably the most responsible of any 2C candidate. Bolland has improved his offensive numbers over the years. Bolland played some of his best hockey two years ago, before a season ending concussion, with Marian Hossa on his wing.
Cons – Opens up a big hole on the third line. Bolland has a poor faceoff percentage. While his offensive numbers have improved, Bolland still has numbers that leave much to be desired offensively.
Brandon Saad, Brandon Pirri, Mark McNeill, and Phillip Danault will be battling at the center position when training camp opens in mid September. Out of this group, Brandon Pirri has the best possibility of playing 2C for the Blackhawks this year. McNeill and Danault will need more seasoning and there is no reason to rush them. Saad has a chance to make the team but his lack of experience at the center position and the Blackhawks need for a left wing power forward, which is where Saad projects, doesn’t bode well for him.
Jump in and let everyone know who your second line center is and why. However, after reading this piece you may be more confused than ever before. It is a position where the Blackhawks need help and maybe the answer isn’t from within the organization.