Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Quenneville seeking balance with Blackhawks’ forwards

There will be new faces in Chicago this season - maybe a lot of them - but the Blackhawks could also be given some old faces a new look.
This comes with the usual qualifier at this time of the year - there are still nine more days until the regular NHL season opens, time to head coach Joel Quenneville change opinion, based on what he sees in the last week of training camp - but each of the first three lines of Chicago can get a facelift, as by breaking Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane Artemi Panarin, combos.
With many new young Hawks players pushing for positions, balance will be the watchword for Quenneville.
So, for now at least, it is likely that Panarin, the winner of the Calder Trophy last year, will skate on the left side Toews and Hossa taking place with two-way utility pivot Marcus Kruger to form the two third of an upscale potentially, check the line two-way.
That would leave Kane with the center Artem Anisimov and, of course, without Panarin on their left side, a trio that was mortal last season.
So if this pans, and until further notice is apparently the plan would Quenneville with all pairs on the first three lines: Toews-Panarin, Anisimov-Kane-Hossa and Kruger.
The idea is that the Panarin placed on the left side Toews will captain a much more dynamic offensive presence and the Hawks will receive an overall offensive momentum, the assumption being that the more magical than Kane had with Panarin, Kane is dynamic enough to lead a line almost alone. Hossa will stabilize and provide additional dimension to a third line with Kruger.
How Panarin and Kane then divided fare will obviously dictate how long and / or the success of this initiative can be, but that fills the holes on each of the first three lines of Hawks will also be critical.
Richard Panik, 25, a winger who played well at times last season when he was alongside Toews, may be the natural complement to Panarin and Toews.
Left winger with Anisimov and Kane will likely come from what young stages in the last week of training camp. There are no fewer than five legitimate candidates.
Two that really jumped so far in the camp are 21 years Tyler Motte, who signed with Chicago last spring to forgo his final year at the University of Michigan, and junior miners, 19, Alexandre Fortin, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent it a week ago.
One might think that the probability of return Fortin in Rouyn-Noranda in the Quebec League is extremely high, but the Hawks will undoubtedly their biggest surprise of the summer a real long, hard look this week because it was good.
Fortin was not taken in one of the 2015 or 2016 NHL draft. Chicago invited him to their summer prospects camp, where he was noticeable. Then he played well for the Hawks in Traverse City rookie tournament and came to the main camp, where the Hawks had seen enough and he signed a three-year entry-level contract.
If these children is proving to be a player, either now or down the road, it seems like a Chicago thing (GM Stan Bowman) to do - take a time two rejected projects and turn it into a player.
If Motte was skating with Kruger and Hossa on the third line, the candidates left alongside Anisimov and Kane include Fortin, 22, second year pro Vinnie Hinostroza, 22, third-year pro Ryan Hartman and 20, the first year pro and 2014 first-round pick Nick Schmaltz, who left the University of North Dakota after its second season. Schmaltz probably upside more offensive than others, but it may be best suited to play center, and could take longer to adjust the pro play.
In any case, many new faces in Chicago this season and potentially some fresh looks for returning players.

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