While goaltending has been the Chicago Blackhawks’ “fatal” flaw – particularly in the 2011 playoffs and last season in general – finding a second-line center has been confounding, too. As useful as David Bolland can be, he seems ideally suited for a checking role, so the ‘Hawks have thrown a lot of different ideas at the problem. They even threw Patrick Kane at center with decent results. NHL.com’s Brian Hedger took an in-depth look at the latest chapter in that quest and found … more of the same.
The Blackhawks didn’t find a suitable option via trade or free agency, so it’s likely they’ll ask Kane to give it another spin, hope that Marcus Kruger blossoms in his second year in North America or a prospect takes an Adam Henrique-like leap in 2012-13. For all that uncertainly, GM Scott Bowman thinks that an answer is coming – even if it might not happen right away.
“A few years back, we identified center as a position that we wanted to grow some guys into that [role], and I think we’ve seen in the last couple drafts we’ve got some guys who are going to be high-end players,” Bowman said. “Some of them aren’t too far away, which is a good thing for us. We’ve seen a few of them even play the wing here just for some different looks, because they can’t all play center.”
The ridiculously loaded Stanley Cup squad that was unsustainable due to contract years and expiring entry-level deals impressed upon Chicago the lesson that the salary cap era almost always assures teams of having some flaws. No. 2 center has been a regular weakness lately, and for an answer to be found, it will almost certainly need to come from within.
Do you expect anyone to step up for the Blackhawks?