The Blackhawks roster is set, and we’ve started looking at the team’s depth chart heading toward the coming season.
On Sunday, we examined the potential fourth line combinations. Next, we looked at the third line potential for this season. Now, in the third edition of our series, let’s look at how the second line might appear this year.
Of all the groups coach Joel Quenneville could put on the ice next year, this might be the one that keeps opposing coaches up at night.
At center, the ever-controversial decision to play Patrick Sharp at the dot is the most likely course of action to open the season (again, the emphasis here is on Opening Night). While the sexy thought of the Sharp-Toews-Kane line makes fans salivate, this line could be the most dangerous second unit in the league with Sharp in the middle.
Coming off a 34-goal, 71-point season, Sharp will likely have his future with the organization decided before the season begins; there’s no reason to think Sharp won’t have new paper done before Opening Night.
On one side of Sharp would be Marian Hossa. Still one of the best two-way forwards in the league, he managed to score 25 goals despite missing 17 games. After three consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Finals and the extra workload of the Olympics in 2010, this will be the longest summer (read: rest) for Hossa in half a decade. If he comes to the rink healthy and well rested this fall, he could return to the offensive dominance that made him a household name.
On the other side could be Michael Frolik. He worked well in a checking line role last year, but the depth afforded Quenneville this year could elevate the former 20-goal scorer to a prime time role with two elite scorers.
Last year, the Anaheim Ducks were the only team in the NHL to have three skaters eclipse the 30-goal plateau. There could be two on this line alone for Chicago, and his history suggests that Frolik might not be too far behind. When you consider the talent he was playing with in Florida when he had his back-to-back 21-goal seasons, who knows where his ceiling could be skating with players as good as Hossa and Sharp?