Matthew Pouliot’s series on Circling the Bases, I have decided restore the rosters for every NHL team. Like Pouliot, I have established some ground rules for my selections.
- Each team contains players they originally drafted or signed before any other NHL team. This includes players drafted and not signed, as well as European free agents coming over at an older age.
- I have chosen to leave retired players off the list, and lean toward players in the AHL rather than those deported (KHL, SEL, DEL, etc.).
Essentially I am choosing the best available players for a team to succeed in the current NHL season. All 30 teams will be covered, with grades assigned to forwards, defense and goaltending. After all 30 articles are written, they will be ranked in order. This series’ intent is to reward or shame NHL scouts.
Due to excellent drafting over the last couple of years, the Blackhawks have restocked the cupboard nicely. The core established on their current roster is mostly homegrown with players with free agent signings filling out a few spots. Both their forwards and defensive units feature high end talent as well as solid depth.
The lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks is as follows.
The forward core is clearly the strength of the team. Bearing a strong similarity to their current lineup, the Hawks forward drafting has been excellent over the years.
Rene Bourque – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Tuomo Ruutu – Dave Bolland – Daniel Cleary
Dustin Byfuglien – Ethan Moreau – Troy Brouwer
Adam Burish – Dean McAmmond – Michael Blunden
Extras: Bryan Bickell, Jack Skille, Kyle Calder
For the most part, this is a solid NHL lineup. Moreau plays a similar, albeit less effective role as John Madden while Cleary and Ruutu are solid second liners. The one glaring weakness is a legitimate first line LW, whereas the current team has productive wingers Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg. Although no longer with the organization, Blunden plays a regular fourth line with the Blue Jackets as has McAmmond with the Devils.
As you could guess with most of their defenders homegrown, the defensive core is strong. Another testament to just how good the scouting in Chicago is.
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
James Wisniewski – Cam Barker
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Kent Huskins
Pretty similar blue line to the team’s current construction. The powerplay quarterback will need to be by committee as there is no Brian Campbell. Wisniewski is a solid top four defender and as has been all year for the Ducks while Huskins plays a solid bottom pair with a very good Sharks team. Still no glaring holes in this lineup.
In my old age I forgot Craig Anderson was originally a Calgary draft choice and therefore not illegible to be on this Hawks team. Their goalie drafting and development is certainly their weakness.
Extra: Corey Crawford
Niemi is only entering his first year as a backup while Crawford has very limited NHL experience. At the point of this writing, the Blackhawks have failed to develop a legitimate NHL starter.
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