The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus answers a number of fan questions and starts with potential linemates for Jonathan Toews. Lazerus opines that Richard Panik will most likely start on the right wing while youngsters Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza, or Tyler Motte could end up on the top line as well. Lazerus reports that the Hawks will most likely put Marian Hossa with Marcus Kruger on the third line. Breaking up the dominant Artemi Panarin–Artem Anisimov–Patrick Kane line would be senseless.
Lazerus’ early season prediction about the Blackhawks 2016-17 season isn’t exactly what Hawks fans are used to. While he doesn’t dog the organization, he is extremely realistic in his assessment. He answered two questions regarding expectations, and with both, Lazerus preached caution. Though he indicates their championship window is still very wide open, he also points out what many others have: the Central Division has a number of very good teams and the Blackhawks’ forward depth is suspect. Lazerus calls the team “very good, albeit flawed.” Lazerus encourages fans to “temper their expectations,” while also stating that they should not “write off the season just yet.” Lazerus adds that the Blackhawks forward depth is a result of the salary cap, and a situation that many Hawk fans should be used to for seasons to come. Then again, Blackhawk fans have been watching their team mitigate through cap issues since 2010.
In other Hawks notes:
- The Hockey Writers’ David Tews writes that the Blackhawks’ attempts at replenishing depth have resulted in missed opportunities. Much like Lazerus wrote, Tews believes the Hawks’ roster holes–specifically left wing–could come back to hurt the Hawks as the season progresses. Tews is also high on Motte and Schmaltz, similar to Lazerus, but feels opportunities were missed if Chicago didn’t try to grab Brandon Pirri or Jiri Hudler at discounts.