With the addition of Cody Franson, Jan Rutta looking NHL-ready, and Alex DeBrincat finding his space early on, has Chicago filled their offseason needs while creating REAL organizational depth?
I’ll split this up into three sections discussing forwards, defensemen, and goalies.
Saad – Toews – Panik provides a top line that should be able to take on the opposing stars while also scoring a good amount of goals by aggressively taking the puck to the net.
DeBrincat – Anisimov – Kane provides a high scoring line. Sure Panarin is gone, but DeBrincat should be able to fill in nicely and both top lines are complete for the first time in a while. (I know. I know. You want me to write DeBrincat – Schmaltz – Kane. Right now, I want to split up Kane and Schmaltz to utilize their playmaking abilities on separate lines.)
Sharp – Schmaltz – Hartman provides a quality third line. (or Sharp – Anisimov – Hartman) I’m big on trying to produce depth scoring. Most teams have a great first and second line, but it’s the third and fourth lines where things get hairy. In Chicago’s cup winning seasons, it was often the great depth third lines that produced many goals going against a weaker opponent who lacked the immense forward depth of Chicago.
Insert 4th line here. I don’t know what the fourth line will be. I would probably use Hayden – Wingels – Jurco to start the season. But it’s a fourth line. They don’t play much. They don’t have much impact. The good news is Chicago has plenty of players that can fill in here.
Keith – Murphy could be interesting. Keith is aging and declining each year. Murphy isn’t a top pairing level forward. This could turn into a rough season for Chicago’s new top pair. How much does Keith have left in the tank as well as how out of place will Murphy be?
Forsling – Seabrook should be a sight to see. Gustav did pretty well in Rockford last season, but is he ready to make a big impact in the NHL? We all know the deal with Seabrook. Poor defensively, can’t skate, not good at setting up others. What he can do is utilize a heavy shot and make stretch passes. Forsling put up impressive points in Rockford though.
3rd pair is fun because the Blackhawks have a million defensemen that could fill in here. They have immense depth when it comes to third pairing defensemen.
Crawford should remain a top five to top ten goalie as he relies more on positioning and puck tracking than his agility, so he should age well. They lose Darling, but have options with Forsberg and Berube. Any backup is not going to look as good as what Darling did last season, but other teams have far worst options at backup than Chicago. (cough, cough, Toronto)
The Blackhawks did improve their NHL depth in terms of lower talent players this offseason, but depth level players don’t win cups. It’s having depth of impact players who make a difference that matters.
I guess the question was did they create organizational depth this offseason. Franson and Oesterle are good signings and Wingels is a competent 4th liner. Patrick Sharp should be able to make an impact after an injury plagued 2016-17.
I don’t know. To me it all comes down to how much of an impact DeBrincat and Forsling can make this season. I don’t feel like I adequately answered the question. Chicago improved the amount of 4th line forward talent and 3rd pairing defensemen talent this offseason, but their impact player talent might have taken a dip because of the aging core declining and the loss of players like Hjalmarsson.