Chicago Blackhawks: Why Is Daniel Carcillo Logging Top Line Minutes?

By Randy Holt
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t want to be mistaken as a guy who doesn’t like Daniel Carcillo, because I do.

In his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, Carcillo has proven to be a pretty useful player. The outrage that followed his signing quickly disappeared when folks realized what he was capable of bringing to the team: some character, some sandpaper, and an agitating presence that this Hawks team could use.

He’s demonstrated that when he actually has his head on straight, which isn’t all the time, that he can be an effective player to have around. He’s more than a guy who’s just around to drop the gloves. There’s a little bit of skill there, as well. But it’s not as much as the Hawks’ brass would like to think.

After some brief success with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane on the second line early last year, Joel Quenneville apparently got it in his head that Carcillo is a guy deserving of regular minutes in the top six. Now that Carcillo is returned from a serious knee injury sustained on a completely boneheaded play that also earned him a suspension, Quenneville is still holding onto that thought.

Since his return from a knee injury in the first game of the season, Carcillo has been seeing some time up on the top line with Hossa and Jonathan Toews. The question here is simply, why?

Carcillo does bring something different to the mix. He protects those two on that top line while bringing a physical presence that neither one of them brings. But the gap in skill level between him and the two All Stars is vast. However, that’s not the case with Brandon Saad.

Saad has proven that he has the chops to play in this league. He can hang with Toews and Hossa. Not only does he work his tail off at both ends of the ice, but he’s a talented player with loads of offensive potential. Carcillo isn’t the worst offensive player that the Hawks have, but he’s not a guy who’s going to contribute too much to the stat sheet, even playing with elite talents like Toews and Hossa.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The top line that features Saad with Toews and Hossa has worked out just fine for the Hawks. They’ve gelled together well, and Saad has helped to generate some scoring chances with his hard-working style. The biggest difference between Saad and Carcillo is the fact that Saad does possess the skill necessary to produce in that role. Carcillo does not.

It’s not like he’s taking all of Saad’s minutes on the top line. But every time that Daniel Carcillo takes a shift from Brandon Saad next to Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa is another bad decision made by Joel Quenneville. Even if we haven’t seen too many of those this season, leave the top line alone for now.

Put Carcillo in a fourth line role next to Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik where he can be a pest, play a strong defensive game, and generate a forecheck for momentum sake. It’s a spot in which he’d be much better off.

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