Blackhawks: Forward Grades At The All-Star Break

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.

Jonathan Toews
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.

Marian Hossa
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.

Patrick Kane
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.

Patrick Sharp
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.

Viktor Stalberg
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.

Dave Bolland
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.

Andrew Brunette
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.

Michael Frolik
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.

Bryan Bickell
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.

Daniel Carcillo
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.

Jamal Mayers
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.

18 thoughts on “Blackhawks: Forward Grades At The All-Star Break

  • January 27, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Great analysis and I agree with all the grades except one — I think I’d nudge Frolik up to a C- or even a C. He hasn’t provided the offense I think folks expected, but with some of the other defensive shortcomings that have plagued this team, his work on the defensive side of the ice has saved this team’s skin a few times, and he always looks like he’s working hard out there — call me crazy, but I think good things are going to start to come to MF.

    When is Bickell going to be sent packing?

  • January 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

    where is Kruger ? “Rookie” or not, 40 games played this season is well enough to grade him …. I’d give him C-D btw.

  • January 27, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I think the F on Carcillo maybe a little harsh, probably a D. At this point it doesn’t really matter. Not sure I am completely onboard with Stalberg yet, seems to get alot of points against bad teams {Columbus}, would probably give him a B for inconsistancy.

    It is frustrating that they had to experiment with Kane at center to begin with. This is on Bowman’s inability to address the second center postion for 2 two seasons. It can’t blamed it on the cap situation any more.

    Why doesn’t Mayers get more ice time, especially given the lack of center depth???

  • January 27, 2012 at 10:16 am

    to John: reading helps… perhaps I did grade Kruger in the “Rookie” grades article?

    to Bonehead: If I was grading only Carcillo’s play, a C or a D would have done it. But consider what we’re getting from him in exchange for his one year contract: 28 games played, 11 games suspended, 43 games on IR. That’s a fail in any book, especially when you add the note that he caused his season-ending injury with a dumb play.

    I agree that Mayers needs more ice time, but my concern is that we blame Bowman for allegedly not addressing the center position this summer. What player was available in free agency that would have been a good fit at 2C on this roster? Obviously Brad Richards wasn’t going to be part of the equation, but this past summer was a really soft free agent class at center. My wish is that they had left Sharp at the dot… the old “if it ain’t broke” cliche comes to mind. The organization rolled the dice w/ Kaner and it didn’t work out.

  • January 27, 2012 at 10:44 am

    to Tab.
    I know he’s offiacialy rookie, but unlike Shaw, Hayes, Pirri, Saad etc, Kruger played ALL games (if healthy), even more like some regular players.So I think it would be more fair rank him in same group as all other all season’s forwards.

  • January 27, 2012 at 10:46 am

    to Tab cont.
    besides that, I do agree with all grades and notes, good article, gj.

  • January 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Im right with you Tab on Sharpie. He is more than capable at 2C, and hopefully at full strength will will see a Shaw-Sharp-Hossa Line in the playoffs. I feel all the grades have been right on point. Good Article.

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  • January 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    time for a blockbuster trade like kane for a top rated goalie who is not over the hill

  • January 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    @ Joey- no.

  • January 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    @joey….worst idea posted on this blog ever

  • January 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I know Kevin and Chad already weighed in… but even Helen Keller thinks that’s a terrible idea, Joey.

  • January 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Tab, only changes I’d make are Bolland C+(not entirely healthy) and Brunette a D+,very slow, no chemistry with our top players, hence 4th line………

  • January 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    @ Joe – don’t like the goalie idea ( they are like pitchers- they are good for 1-3 yrs. then they aren’t)-

    but I still think most of the people in Chicago are too blinded by Kane and the past to realize that he his not a complete hockey player and his overrated! Campbell was more important and better for this team… I hope I am wrong but I think he can only be good in a “fast-break” type of game and on a team with tons of speed and guys who can win corner battles… we are pretty fast, but we don’t have Ladd, Buff, Madden, Eager to win board battles. But the sad fact is that he has not even played well on the PP and where has he been in 4-4 play???? I think we have had a couple OT’s where the “fast, high scoring Hawks- with the fast play making Kane have had ZERO shots on goal!!!!” That stat tells me -we will not win a Cup this year. More importantly, we know Kane doesn’t hit, doesn’t PK, does not battle on boards– But we do pay him to skate… and he is not fooling anyone w/ the shimmy anymore, and shooting .065%- the fact that we can’t get a puck on goal in 4-4 hockey is disturbing!

  • January 28, 2012 at 9:00 am

    sorry guys for hitting a sore spot (kane) but wall hit it dead on. and why doesn`t anybody want to talk about how poorly crawford plays. At least start emery as he is clearly a better goalie I mean a goal from the blue line with no screen , come on.

  • January 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Kane’s career low shooting percentage will improve in the 2nd half, I would put money on it. Despite that low shooting%, he’s still on pace for 70 points and I still think he finishes with more than 21 goals and 73 points on the season. Even with his ‘slump’ he’s t11th in assists and is on his way to his best +/- of his career. He’s a streaky (frustrating) player and when he gets hot this winter, we will be singing his praises. Is he Jonathan Towes? Hell no. He’s an undersized, quick player with golden hands and great vision. Kane is one of the 20 best forwards in the NHL and we’d be insane to trade him.

  • January 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Regarding the Kane trade discussion, I think Kane is having a bad year no doubt, considering what he has done and is capable of doing, no question he can be an impact player, he has proven that in the past and I would be careful to judge too hastily. Trade Kane for goalie help and it will prove to be a bad move, now if a more versatile young player were available, like TJ Oshie, Gabriel Landeskog plus a draft pick then I might be willing to part with Kaner. This is still an iffy move but is really just a way of saying that Kane is not an untouchable on this team because we have playmakers, and really need more grit and special teams contributors.

  • January 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Tysimmo- I can easily name 20 better forwards that I would want on my team ahead of Kane… and that is without looking at any rosters… if I look at rosters and pay- I bet i can find 35 + forwards I would take over Kane considering salary.

    And that has been my problem… Kane is a very good player, but there are better options especially when you take in to account salary and “total play”. Just look at Boston… IMO the heavy favorites for another cup… How many “one way, one dimensional players do they have that make 6 Mill +???”

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