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Blackhawks’ quest for No. 2 center continues

Jul 14, 2012, 2:45 PM EDT

Rostislav Klesla, Michal Rozsival, Dave Bolland

While goaltending has been the Chicago Blackhawks’ “fatal” flaw – particularly in the 2011 playoffs and last season in general – finding a second-line center has been confounding, too. As useful as David Bolland can be, he seems ideally suited for a checking role, so the ‘Hawks have thrown a lot of different ideas at the problem. They even threw Patrick Kane at center with decent results.’s Brian Hedger took an in-depth look at the latest chapter in that quest and found … more of the same.

The Blackhawks didn’t find a suitable option via trade or free agency, so it’s likely they’ll ask Kane to give it another spin, hope that Marcus Kruger blossoms in his second year in North America or a prospect takes an Adam Henrique-like leap in 2012-13. For all that uncertainly, GM Scott Bowman thinks that an answer is coming – even if it might not happen right away.

“A few years back, we identified center as a position that we wanted to grow some guys into that [role], and I think we’ve seen in the last couple drafts we’ve got some guys who are going to be high-end players,” Bowman said. “Some of them aren’t too far away, which is a good thing for us. We’ve seen a few of them even play the wing here just for some different looks, because they can’t all play center.”

The ridiculously loaded Stanley Cup squad that was unsustainable due to contract years and expiring entry-level deals impressed upon Chicago the lesson that the salary cap era almost always assures teams of having some flaws. No. 2 center has been a regular weakness lately, and for an answer to be found, it will almost certainly need to come from within.

Do you expect anyone to step up for the Blackhawks?

  1. nhlobsessed - Jul 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Thank you! Someone finally remembered Marcus Kruger! Everyone forgets about him during the center position talks. Yes, he’s green and still needs some “coaching up”, and he could benefit greatly from adding a few pounds (muscle-wise, obviously) to his frame, but I really feel like he is an underrated centerman/player. Last year he did a fine job in the role of center. Even Patrick Sharp had commented on how he was setting him and Hossa up nicely for plays. I’ve been watching his development as a player and so far I like what I’ve seen and think he is on the correct trajectory. So he’s not the most experienced, I really think he’s got the potential to be a great centerman. Give him a chance Hawks!

  2. balewsquare - Jul 14, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    What I don’t like is how Bowman appears to be either gun shy, or out of the “GM Loop.” Where was he when Vermette (the guy who killed them in the playoffs) was given away for a bag of peanuts? I justified it by thinking Columbus wouldn’t want to trade within the division. Fair enough. But what about when Ribeiro was given away for a single peanut? Where was Bowman there? That’s what scares me. These players don’t become available often, so when the do, he needs to identify them, and go get them.

    • esracerx46 - Jul 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      I do not want Ribeiro any where near this team. Absolutely zero defensive game. They already have Kane for that role. Although at times kane at least attempts to back check

      • balewsquare - Jul 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM

        I’m not saying he’s got the all-around game, but then you’d have a 1-2-3 of Toews (2 way F), Ribiero (off), and Bolland (def). Much better than Toews followed by a jumble of Bolland, Kane, Kruger, Pirri, Sharp.

  3. esracerx46 - Jul 14, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Scott Bowman is a senior adviser. Stan Bowman is officially titled as GM. Although, some Hawks fans seem to think Scotty is running the show. I personally dont think Kruger is the answer. I love Kruger but his defensive prowess is why he is a Hawk. He’ll be 3rd line center when bollands contract is up. My vote is for Brandon Pirri. He was a point a game playerin the Ahl last year until he got hurt

  4. pone27 - Jul 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    i agree with whats being said so far, but two quick things:
    1) Kruger is not a top 6 F or top 2 C… ill give benefit of the doubt and say he is still young, but if he didnt have BOTH Sharp and Hossa to feed, he would struggle mightily.
    2) Ribeiro is a big contract at 5 mil. No reason to try to trade away players for something for a year then let go.

  5. chiadam - Jul 14, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Is there something in the water here in Chicago that makes general managers over-value their rosters? The town that would not trade Luol Deng for Kobe Bryant (true) proudly presents: Marcus Kruger as a second-line center! But, I guess that’s what we’re stuck with. It’s evident that Bowman lacks the balls / ability to build a competent team, so keep running out Kane at center, draft a few more “puck-moving” defensemen that my niece is bigger than, and sign a few more old bums. I’m tired of it. And Kane is no center. He’s a wing that plays one end of the ice.

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