The Chicago Blackhawks made some waves back during the presaeson when they moved Patrick Kane to center, in order to compensate for their lack of depth at the spot.
Most questioned the move, thanks to Kane’s spotty defense and his small stature. While the move was initially a success, they were proven right. Kane was eventually worn down and the shine wore off after a few games before he was moved back to the wing.
With Jonathan Toews out with a concussion, Kane has been forced back into action in the middle, this time on the top line between Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa. It’s not a perfect line, but the results for Kane have been far more positive this time.
The Hawks have found success without Jonathan Toews in the lineup, winning five of their last seven, and one of the two losses was in a shootout against Los Angeles. Much of that is coming thanks to the play of Kane. He’s elevated his game, playing smarter, better, and faster than at any other point at which we’ve seen him this season.
That recent play, among other things, has Stan Bowman thinking that this might become a more permanent situation, even when Jonathan Toews does return to the lineup.
It’s no secret that the Blackhawks lack a second line center. Everyone on the planet knows it. And even with the Hawks expected to be active this summer, as far as transactions go, there aren’t exactly a whole lot of teams that are planning to give second line centers away for cheap.
Perhaps they could trade for a guy like Derek Roy, who they pursued at the trade deadline and is signed through next year. But with Bowman not wanting to overpay andPatrick Sharp apparently refusing to play center, the best way to go, at least right now, is with Kane at center.
There’s absolutely no question Kane has the skill to be a very successful center. His puckhandling is unrivaled and his play making is top notch. He’ll need to get stronger and, while no one expects him to win any Selke Trophies, defense will need to improve as well.
Assuming Kane builds up his strength this summer and brings his game that we’ve seen in these past couple weeks, and Stan Bowman does his job and adds more talent to the top six, Kane could turn out to be downright electric at center in the future.
Of course, nothing is set in stone and maybe the Hawks do go out and acquire that center for the second unit, most likely via trade. But Bowman seems to be heavily favoring keeping Kane at center, and while it might not be the most popular opinion in Chicago, it’s certainly one that could work out for the Hawks.