With first line right wing Marian Hossa reportedly out 2-3 weeks after a Craig Adams hit, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to make moves in order to fill Hossa’s vital spot on the roster as well as his production (24 goals, 50 points and NHL leading 65 takeaways).
In his place, Brandon Saad is likely to be promoted, and rightly so. Saad is an incredible young talent who has been a Swiss Army Knife of sorts for the Blackhawks all season. Saad came into training camp preparing to move to center but has nonetheless recorded 41 points from both left and right wings. Saad was a plus-4 during the Blackhawks’ last game, a testament to his incredible versatility and ability to create offense.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune:
“There’s going to be some quality ice time shared amongst the guys. I thought Saader did a real good job getting put up on that line there as the game progressed the other day.”
That being said, Saad’s spot as a versatile left wing presence on the second and third lines is open for competition. Coach Quenneville was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times saying:
“There’s two or three guys that are probably in that boat, that we’ll definitely get them up here at some point, whether they’re going to be here immediately, we’re not sure exactly of that.”
The choice is a rather easy one, as the two main players being mentioned are IceHogs left wings Jeremy Morin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Bouchard has scored 11 points in nine games since reporting to Rockford. However, Bouchard’s contract is buried in the minor leagues, but he is due $1,000,000 in NHL salary if promoted, per capgeek.com. This would mean the demotion of someone, likely Peter Regin. Bouchard can also play center, but this lineup would be severely lacking any sort of offensive firepower that the Blackhawks require going forward.
Morin, meanwhile, has been almost undeniable in the AHL, scoring at the point per game clip 43 games into the season. He also was named the AHL’s player of the month for February, scoring 18 points in 11 total games. A scoring force, Morin has not found traction in the NHL as the Blackhawks have not needed his scoring or strong fore-checking; until now.
Morin has the chance to be a difference maker at a crucial point in the season where every game matters more and more. With 20 games to go, only three points separate the Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche play the Blackhawks twice within the next nine days and have a game in hand on Chicago.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486