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5 Players Who Could Be Chicago Blackhawks’ Second-Line Center Next Season

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Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Players Who Could Be Second-Line Center in 2014-15

Chicago Blackhawks Second Line Center Joe Thornton
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The Chicago Blackhawks have had a roster hole at second-line center ever since their Stanley Cup-winning season of 2009-10. Several big name options are on the table to fill that hole next season, including Joe Thornton and Ryan Kesler. Here are 5 players who could be Chicago's second-line center in 2014-15, ranked by increasing order of likelihood.

5. Joe Thornton

Joe Thornton
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5. Joe Thornton

Joe Thornton
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Joe Thornton's name remains in nearly every trade rumor these days, with San Jose GM Doug Wilson making clear his desire to retool the Sharks around their youth. The Blackhawks have almost no cap space, and consequently any trade for Thornton would have to involve plenty of salary leaving Chicago as well as San Jose retaining some (which is unlikely). Still, Thornton's name has been linked to the Windy City as much as anywhere else.

4. Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler
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4. Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler
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The most recent murmurs from the rumor mill suggest that the Blackhawks offered Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen for Ryan Kesler, which the Vancouver Canucks declined and countered with Kesler for Teravainen and Brandon Saad. Both potential deals would be overpayment from Chicago's point of view. The Blackhawks' interest in Kesler is evidently very legitimate; Shaw and Teravainen is a huge offer.

3. Brad Richards

Brad Richards
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3. Brad Richards

Brad Richards
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The New York Rangers have bought out Brad Richards' terrible contract, and he is now effectively a free agent. Richards may well be Chicago's best option to fill the second-line center spot; he is better than the two players ahead of him on this list, would likely come fairly cheap and would not cost any assets other than cap space to acquire. Richards isn't the same player he used to be but still put up 20 goals and 50 points last year.

2. Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw
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2. Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw
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Andrew Shaw looked fantastic in a very limited sample size alongside Patrick Kane and Saad against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final. He isn't an ideal option to play the second-line center role, but he did rack up an impressive 20 goals and a near 40-point season from the third line in 2013-14. Chicago should explore all of its other options before committing to Shaw, but he isn't the worst fallback out there.

1. Teuvo Teravainen

Teuvo Teravainen
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1. Teuvo Teravainen

Teuvo Teravainen
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Teuvo Teravainen is Chicago's only blue chip prospect and seemingly the long-term answer at second-line center. Of course, questions remain regarding whether or not he is currently capable of taking on the role. Teravainen will be on his cheap entry level contract for each of the next three seasons, which has to make tossing him the reigns on the second line very tempting for the cap-strapped Blackhawks.

Sean Sarcu is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.