In the last couple days we’ve evaluated the performances of some of the Blackhawks. First we looked at the rookies, and then we graded the defensemen and goalies. Now, let’s take a serious look at the forwards’ play before the All-Star Break.
49 GP, 27 G, 23 A, 50 Pts, +17
A really good case can be made that Toews was one of the league’s most valuable players before the All-Star Break. He’s tied for second in the NHL in goals, tied for tenth in points, and leads the NHL in faceoffs (61.1 percent). He’s also on the short list for the Selke this year, leading the NHL with 68 takeaways. Toews has 11 points on the power play (five goals, seven assists) and two short-handed points (one goal, one assist). Simply put, at 23, Toews has become one of the best players in the NHL.
49 GP, 20 G, 33 A, 53 Pts, +24
Hossa is tied for third in the NHL in points and his 33 assists are tied for sixth in the league to date. He also boasts a plus-minus that is tied for seventh in the league, and has a team-leading seven goals and 13 points on the power play. His 55 takeaways ranks sixth in the NHL as well. Blackhawks fans are finally seeing a fully-healthy Hossa in action, and it’s worth every penny of his blockbuster contract from two years ago. While Toews might be one of the league’s most valuable players, an equally compelling argument can be made that Hossa is the Hawks’ MVP so far.
50 GP, 11 G, 30 A, 41 Pts, +9
This has been an… intriguing… season for Kane. He had preseason wrist surgery, and then moved to center in time for the season to begin. In the first few weeks of the season, the experiment was working well, but Kane started struggling at the dot (and in the box scores) and was moved back to Toews’ right side. His production isn’t what fans want, specifically in the goal category. He’s never been a physical forward and won’t soon be confused with the Selke-candidate center he skates with, but the fact remains that only 32 other players in the NHL have reached 41 points to date. At the end of the day, moving Kane to center was a mistake.
42 GP, 20 G, 20 A, 40 Pts, +18
Before missing a couple weeks because of an “upper-body” injury, Sharp was one of the hottest scorers in the NHL. Still, only 19 players in the league have reached the 2o-goal mark to date, and Sharp did it before missing eight games. Of those 19 players, only Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin has played in as many games as Sharp and reached 20 goals; everyone else has played in more. His five game-winning goals are still tied for sixth in the league as well.
47 GP, 14 G, 15 A, 29 Pts, +7
Stalberg is blowing away all of his career bests this year, and has performed really well when skating on the Hawks’ top line with Toews and Kane. He’s tied with Sharp for the team-lead with five game-winning goals, and ranks fourth on the team in even-strength points. What has been just as much of a pleasant surprise this year has been the little things Stalberg has been doing well. He’s been credited with 30 takeaways and 55 hits already this year, and his effort in the last couple weeks has been outstanding.
46 GP, 15 G, 11 A, 26 Pts, -2
Bolland has come on strong since Sharp went down and it appears he’s found the offensive game he’s been missing since his back surgery a couple years ago. He started the year on what was supposed to be the team’s most consistent line with Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell, but once October ended all three disappeared from the offensive side of the rink. Bolland continues to be average in faceoffs, winning only 47.4 percent of his opportunities at the dot. He gets a “C” because of the eight points and minus-nine rating he posted in 24 games between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31; his 11 points in January bring up what could have been a lower grade.
50 GP, 9 G, 10 A, 19 Pts, -10
Brunette was signed to, in theory, find a role as a potential 20-goal guy in the Hawks’ top six this year, but quickly showed that he was too slow to keep up with the racehorses the Hawks have at the top of their roster. He has the worst plus-minus on the team, and seven of his 19 points have come with a man advantage. Unfortunately for Brunette (and the Blackhawks), the only place he’s looked comfortable at all this year has been parked in front of the net on the power play.
47 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 13 Pts, -6
Frolik was brought in last year to provide secondary scoring after giving the Florida Panthers two 20-goal seasons early in his career. But since coming to Chicago, he’s shown aim that might be cause for the troughs at Wrigley Field. On the offensive side of the ice, he’s been an overwhelming disappointment this year. The only thing keeping his grade from being a fail is that he continues to work his tail off on the defensive side of the ice. He signed a nice, three-year deal this summer and hasn’t done much to earn it this season.
41 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 9 Pts, -7
Bickell is, without question, the most frustrating player on the Hawks’ roster. After posting 17 goals last year and appeared to be ready to replace Troy Brouwer as a physical forward in the lineup, he’s become a ghost in every zone and has rendered himself worthless to the organization. He has, somehow, been credited with 76 hits, but hasn’t done anything else this year that warrants him sticking around Chicago. Indeed, he has lost his roster spot to rookie Jimmy Hayes and might be the first player dealt out of town when GM Stan Bowman gets active in the trade market.
28 GP, 2 G, 9 A, 11 Pts, +10
Carcillo started the year suspended, but he broke into the Hawks’ lineup creating space for the superstar forwards in the Hawks’ top six. He was effective and physical, playing a better game than anyone thought he would when he signed. But then he got suspended… and then he got suspended again… and the second time he suffered a season-ending injury. He did pile up 76 hits in 28 games in Chicago this season, but he had more penalty minutes in 28 games (82) than anyone on the 2010-11 Hawks roster accumulated in an entire season. In spite of his positive play early in the year, Carcillo get a failing grade because his season is over.
50 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 Pts, Even
Mayers has been the best free agent addition from last summer, and has been the efficient, effective physical forward the lineup has desperately been needing. Skating just over nine minutes per game as the center on the fourth line, he is winning 55.5 percent of his faceoffs and has been credited with 70 hits so far this year. Mayers has also been an outstanding penalty killer this year, and is among the NHL leaders in fighting majors.