One thing that made the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup squad so successful was because of a veteran presence throughout the lineup, particularly John Madden in the bottom six.
That type of presence is something that the Blackhawks lacked last year, as a strong lack of depth reared its ugly head for much of the season, with the team being forced to roll with the likes of Jake Dowell and Fernando Pisani in the bottom six.
Fixing that type of mess was one of the goals of Stan Bowman heading into the summer, and its a plan that he executed to near perfection, at least on paper. The Blackhawks head into the new season with plenty of new depth, and some new leadership to carry in those spots.
One of those new faces is Jamal Mayers. The longtime St. Louis Blues forward has moved around plenty in the last few years, having played for four different teams since the 2007-2008 season. The Blackhawks will be his fifth club.
Mayers played most on the wing last season, with the San Jose Sharks, but has described himself as a natural center. That’s a welcome statement for a Blackhawks team in dire need of some help in the middle.
Mayers isn’t likely to set the world on fire as far as his point totals go, as his career high of just 26 would indicate. But he will add a physical presence to the bottom six, which is absolutely the Blackhawks will need against the likes of St. Louis or Vancouver.
Though he’s set to hit 37 years of age later this month, Mayers hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. He played in 78 games for the Sharks last year, keeping up the physical play throughout, registering 105 hits on the year. He’s also shown early in the preseason for Chicago that he’s not afraid to drop the gloves, either.
The biggest question with Mayers is just where he’ll lineup. As of right now, it looks like he’ll be penciled in as the fourth line center on opening night in Dallas, especially if Marcus Kruger continues to slowly progress through camp.
As is the case with many of the Blackhawks’ summer additions, it might have been a quiet addition, but Jamal Mayers should make a nice impact for the Hawks this season. Even if it doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, the results on the ice and in the locker room will speak for themselves.