The Chicago Blackhawks‘ search for a second line center seems to be never ending. After Jonathan Toews in the lineup, there just never seemed to be anyone capable of performing well enough in that role to stick – but it’s not for lack of trying.
The revolving door that is the second line has seen the likes of Patrick Kane, Marcus Kruger, and Tomas Kopecky in the past couple of seasons, is finally hoping that it can stop at Dave Bolland.
Bolland has never really had his opportunity to perform well in an offensive role. Somewhat understandably, the Hawks have played him primarily in a defensive role. In that role, though, he has been among the league’s best. He’s one of the best defensive forwards in the game.
But, starved for a true center on that second line, the Hawks have moved Bolland up a unit, and he’ll very likely start the season on Saturday in the middle of that second group. We know that Bolland is capable of supplying offense, as evident by his 130 points, including 57 goals, in his final year in the OHL back in 2005-2006.
Will that former offensive success translate to more success on the second line for the Blackhawks? Does Bolland even remember how to play offense? That question might seem nonsensical, but it will be interesting to see how quickly Bolland can make the transition from the defensive role that he’s used to playing to the offensive role he’s now in.
Another potentially large concern is the fact that on that second line, Bolland will be starting more draws in the offensive zone. Given his inconsistencies at the faceoff dot, that could end up being an issue if the Hawks want to maintain possession on offense. Of course, Bolland in the faceoff circle, even hovering just under 50 percent, he’s still better than whoever the Blackhawks iced there last year.
When it comes down to it, just look at the talent that Bolland will be playing with in the top six. If the lines in training camp are any indication, and with Joel Quenneville behind the bench they may not be, he’ll be playing between Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. If he can’t succeed between those two, then there’s an issue.
It will be interesting to see how Dave Bolland performs in his new role. He’s clearly the best option to slot into that spot on the second line, and if he can’t succeed there, then it’ll be time for the Hawks to seek other options for that spot before the season is over.