The Chicago Blackhawks‘ never ending search for a second line center left them with Dave Bolland in the middle of that unit to start the season. In most ways, that transition has been a very good one. But it isn’t quite as good as the Hawks would probably like it to be.
Over the course of his career, Bolland has demonstrated an inability to win faceoffs consistently. This season has been even worse for him, as he’s winning them at a rate that is barely over 40 percent. While he’s developed good chemistry, a line that features Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane should feature more scoring chances.
Which means that we’ll likely see someone else take over that spot at some point in the future. We just don’t know when that will be. Whenever the Hawks do look for a change in the middle of that second line, will they give a look to quiet standout Marcus Kruger?
Kruger has been absolutely fantastic this year, even if it hasn’t shown up on the stat sheet. He’s been on a line with Michael Frolik and the rotation of Brandon Bollig/Jamal Mayers. It’s a line that has created a strong forecheck every time it’s out there. Kruger has also been the top penalty killer for the Hawks this season, playing on a unit with Frolik.
But would the Hawks look to move him up to the second line? They have before. There are some good things that Kruger could do up there. He’s extremely intelligent and is terrific at passing the puck. When you’re playing between those two, that’s essentially all you need to do. He’d also bring a forecheck that the second unit has lacked so far.
However, the concerns with Kruger are the same as the concerns with Bolland. Can he win a faceoff? Kruger has been inconsistent with the draws as well, winning barely under 46 percent. Still better than Bolland. It also remains to be seen if his offensive game can develop enough to produce on that line.
It will be interesting to see if Joel Quenneville looks to move Bolland off the second line at all, let alone who he could replace him with. Should he move Bolland back to his natural spot on the third line, then we could see Kruger get a crack at the second line. But for now, it looks like they’ll let Kruger continue to excel where he’s been so effective this season.