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Chicago’s other missing link: A second line center

Jul 26, 2012, 5:18 PM EDT

Patrick Sharp Getty Images

When you look up and down the Chicago Blackhawks’ roster, it’s one oozing with talent. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook.

While we’ve talked about how goalie is one weakness for them, another one is hidden in plain view. They need a solid No. 2 center.

Last season they used Kane and Sharp up the middle to try and balance out their highly talented top two lines and while Kane got a shot to stay there, it ultimately ended with a thud. Both Kane and Sharp are clearly more comfortable on the wing.

Dave Bolland is a guy who excels as a center but he’s a third line guy with his defensive ability. When you consider the rumor involving Bolland being dangled to Vancouver for Roberto Luongo, the one thing stopping that from making total sense is the gaping hole in the middle it would leave for the Blackhawks.

When you look at Chicago’s farm system, there’s one guy with the potential to maybe help on the second line in Brandon Pirri, but he still needs more AHL seasoning.

Without much help left in free agency (Daymond Langkow? Jason Arnott?) the Blackhawks might have to swing a deal if they’re going to improve the second line center spot. With how Stan Bowman has played it cool in the past, don’t expect a big shakeup.

  1. nhlobsessed - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    Joe, you seem to have forgotten that the Hawks also tried Marcus Kruger in the middle last season too. And he didn’t do a poor job. Sure, he’s green and could use some extra bulk, but from what I saw last season, Kruger looks like a viable option at center if he can keep improving. In my opinion, Marcus Kruger is very underrated. Even Patrick Sharp said he was underrated and was doing a great job of setting up him and Hossa. I say give him a chance to prove himself. He could be a great center, but we’ll never know unless he’s given a chance.

  2. toewsingkaner - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    Bowman was GM when they won the Cup, but it was Tallon who built the team. Bowman needs to step-up and make a move because another 1st round departure should signal his firing.

    • danphipps01 - Jul 26, 2012 at 10:16 PM

      Hard truth is, he just doesn’t quite live up to the name. I mean, he’s alright. I don’t think he’s an awful GM or anything. Tallon’s roster was impossible to maintain and Bowman had to deal with the realities of the salary cap era. That having been said… yeah, three consecutive flops is enough for a team with as much talent as Chicago’s got right now.

    • irishraj - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:22 PM

      Tallon not only built the team, but was the GM for the Stanley Cup Champs. He was let go, two months after they won. Bowman took over from there and began the salary dumping. While he had no choice but to get rid of salary, he sure hasnt done anything to improve the team over the last couple years.

      • esracerx46 - Jul 27, 2012 at 11:08 AM

        Stan Bowman was named GM of the Chicago Blackhawks July 19, 2009. Dale Tallon stayed on staff until after the season ended.

  3. nobandwagoners - Jul 26, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    The one thing stopping Bolland for Luongo making total sense is that Bolland is a checking third line, agitating centre – not anywhere near an equivalent trade value for Luongo. Bolland is good at what he does but he’s not, with respect, at the same level of talent. Maybe Bolland + ….

    Of course, Luongo does come with a big contract (although in reality, you could expect Luongo to play maybe 4-5 years before he bows out). So there is the big contract; I’ll give you that, so that should be mentioned but to suggest that Bolland for Luongo makes sense other than leaving Chicago w/o a centreman, well, c’mon.

  4. jpat2424 - Jul 26, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Bolland for bobby lu. No way hawks fans would burn the town down.

  5. ikillchicken - Jul 26, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    See, this is where I just gotta think moving Kane is the answer. Not because Kane is bad but just because he’s relatively expendable. They have a surplus of talented wingers. It only make sense to deal from that position of strength to address their need at centre. Yeah, they could try to pick up someone to fill in via free agency but come on. Teams live and die by their centres. They don’t just need a mediocre plug. They need someone actually good.

    • juzzi7 - Jul 27, 2012 at 4:44 AM

      Why on earth would they trade a face of the franchise away? Although I think there would be pretty good offers from teams as Kane has the ability to be a gamechanger and is a proven playoffperformer and his playstyle is very special and valuable for the team. People who say he doesn’t backcheck “at all” is just stupid, It’s rarely his guy who scores or makes the big play to score.

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