The Chicago Blackhawks had HEAVY turnover over the past few weeks, overhauling large portions of their roster. After two consecutive first round exits, GM Stan Bowman felt the need to significantly alter his roster in order to have a chance at success in the coming years. He made multiple major moves to alter the core, which we have covered extensively here. We’ve also seen large turnover in the depth positions of the roster, with many roster spots changing over to new faces throughout the lineup.

My Ideal Opening Night Lineup

It’s likely that the lineup I’d pick come October is significantly different from the one Joel Quennville will put together. I think with the way the roster is currently constructed, there are a lot of different directions the Blackhawks could take things. Furthermore, with the amount of turnover, there’s no telling what Quenneville and co. will do. Though I think Quenneville is a strategical genius who is largely infallible, he has, in my estimation, made some questionable decisions with his lineup in the past. Without further ado, here’s the way I’d build the Blackhawks come opening night:

Saad-Toews-Panik

Hartman-Schmaltz-Kane

Sharp-Anisimov-DeBrincat

Hinostroza-Kero-Hayden

Extras: Wingels, Bouma

Keith-Seabrook

Forsling-Murphy

Kempny-Rutta

Extra: Ville Pokka

Crawford

Forsberg

I really like the look of those forwards. There is a lot of depth and scoring ability. It is also well balanced, there isn’t anyone who is truly a liability. The goaltenders are pretty set in stone, and they look good. Corey Crawford is still a bona-fide stud, and Anton Forsberg should step right into Scott Darling’s shoes. The problem here, of course, is that defensive core. If one of Brent Seabrook or Connor Murphy can carry their own pairing, it would give me a lot more confidence. The problem is that I’m pretty darn sure that neither Seabrook or Murphy can carry their own pairing. In fact, I’m of the opinion that each of them need to be carried. Losing Niklas Hjalmarsson leaves a huge hole in that Blackhawks defense.

Joel Quenneville’s Opening Night Lineup, in My Eyes

Quenneville tends to favor veterans over young guys, and I’m decently confident that Alex DeBrincat will not be deemed ready for the NHL in training camp. Beyond that, I’m sure guys like Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma were signed for a reason. Bowman and Quenneville probably want those guys in there for “physicality” and their ability to play on the PK. Of course, the Blackhawks have won three Cups now really without the so-called physicality aspect, and I’m of the opinion that many players can be successful on the PK. It’s not something that requires a ton of skill, just grit. We’ll see how the defense shakes out, but it’s likely Q still trusts Seabrook to handle his own pair, despite his struggles. Anyhow, here’s my guess at the Hawks actual lineup in October:

Saad-Toews-Panik

Schmaltz-Anisimov-Kane

Sharp-Kero-Hartman

Bouma-Wingels-Hayden

Extras: Hinostroza, Jurco

Keith-Murphy

Forsling-Seabrook

Kempny-Roszival

Extra: Rutta

Crawford

Forsberg

So there it is. I don’t think Quenneville quite trusts Schmaltz at center yet. I’m also skeptical he’ll break up the effective Anisimov-Kane pairing. I’m really, really worried about giving Kero significant responsibility on the third line, as I’m not sure he’s more than a fourth liner. Murphy getting heavy minutes with Keith is also scary, because I really don’t think he’s all that good. The Blackhawks also need a shutdown pair, and I really don’t think any of those pairings can handle tough minutes against the opposition’s stars. All in all, the Blackhawks are in a worrisome spot, and these lineups are pretty unconvincing in my eyes.

 

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