To this point in the summer, most fans of the Chicago Blackhawks have clung to hopes that Stan Bowman would go out and acquire a true center for the second line. It’s still early, but while it’s nice to dream about potential names like Sam Gagner coming to Chicago, those hopes seem like nothing more than a pipedream right now.
What is much more likely is that the Blackhawks will look in-house to solve their center woes, as frustrating and predictable as that might sound.
Bowman has continued to promote and plug Patrick Kane‘s name for that role on the second line, and that is probably exactly what we’ll see to start (unfortunately). Kane showed flashes of being very successful there, but overall lacks the size and defensive ability to stick. And he doesn’t win faceoffs.
The other option there is likely going to be Marcus Kruger. Kruger made impressive strides in his first full season in the NHL, working his way up from the fourth line to a role on the second unit.
Kruger can win faceoffs and is a very solid defensive center, but whether or not his offensive game is good enough to stick on that second line right now, or at all, remains to be seen. He’s also going to work on getting much stronger this summer if he’s going to play big minutes starting early on in the season.
Speaking of pipedreams, wouldn’t it be great to see Patrick Sharp in the middle? He’s easily the best option out of anyone on the current roster, but whether it’s his own refusal to move or the Blackhawks preferring him on the wing, don’t expect to see him taking too many draws this season.
There’s no doubt about the fact that center is one of the two biggest issues with this team right now, on top of some decent size on the blue line. The Hawks need a guy who can win faceoffs regularly and be a consistent playmaker. He doesn’t have to be a goal scorer playing with Marian Hossa on his right and possibly Sharp to his left.
There’s still a chance, since it’s still the first half of July, that Bowman could bring in someone from the outside. But since this is Stan Bowman we’re talking about, I fully expect to see Patrick Kane battle Marcus Kruger for that second line center spot when training camp rolls around.