Top Line Top Problem For 2016-2017 Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews at Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup Rally (Scott King), Soldier Field.

Jonathan Toews at Blackhawks 2015 Stanley Cup Rally (Scott King), Soldier Field.

Now that the Blackhawks have seemingly filled last year’s biggest hole – the need for a top-four defenseman – by bringing Brian Campbell back to Chicago, a new one has emerged. Who will be Jonathan Toews’ wingers on the first line this season?
The good old days with Marian Hossa playing on Toews’ right could be coming to an end. The two-way titans may be split up for the greater good.
Hossa could start the season in more of a checking role on the Hawks’ third line where he played last postseason. The 37-year-old’s defensive ability is yet to regress, but his scoring touch has become a cause for concern. The culprit may be the Slovakian forward’s shooting percentage, which took a dive from 14.7% in 2013 to 6.8% last season.
Forward Richard Panik logged time in Hossa’s spot during the playoffs tallying six points in six postseason games. Expect him to get a look there and stick for a majority of the season.
As for the left wing, Brandon Saad departed from Chicago long ago, Andrew Ladd returned briefly last year as a rental. Who will win the lottery spot?
 
These Kids Can Play
 
Tyler Motte
 *21 years old, 5’9, 188 lbs, from St. Clair, MI
 *tallied five points in five games with the Hawks’ AHL affiliate the Rockford IceHogs last season after putting up 56 points in 38 games at the University of Michigan
 *strong two-way player and shot-blocker
Nick Schmaltz
 *20 years old, 6’0, 177 lbs, from Madison, WI
 *46 points in 37 games with North Dakota last year
 *play-making forward
 *Blackhawks’ first pick in 2014 draft, 20th overall
 
Vinnie Hinostroza
 *22 years old 5’9, 173 lbs, from Chicago, IL
 *51 points in 66 games in Rockford last year
 *no points in seven regular season games with the Hawks last season and three playoff games
 *speed, speed, and more speed – head coach Joel Quenneville and Vice President/GM Stan Bowman both spoke highly of Hinostroza at the team’s convention in July. Quenneville said the Blackhawks could utilize Vinnie’s speed which the club lacked last season.
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