Just 25 games into the NHL regular season the Patrick Kane at center experiment is over for the Chicago Blackhawks. After practice on Thursday coach Joel Quenneville announced that for the foreseeable future forward Patrick Kane will be moving from center back to right wing on the Blackhawks top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg.
The repositioning of Kane back at wing is not a surprising one as Kane didn’t seem to have the size, tenacity or faceoff ability that you look for in a second line center. However considering his small size and unfavorable build Kane was solid for the ‘Hawks during the 25 game stretch with 24 points a plus-9 rating and faceoff percentage of 45%. All admirable statistics for a guy that hasn’t played center since he was in the US development program but with the move to wing he can play the way he wants to and the way he is most comfortable.
In the interim the role of second line center will be handed over to rookie Marcus Kruger. Kruger who did appear in 12 games last season has really shown during the first third of the season compiling two goals and five assists. Kruger who was selected in the fifth round of the 2009 NHL entry draft has exceeded expectations as it pertains to the position he was selected in.
Reportedly Kruger was a personal pick of Blackhawks special assistant Scotty Bowman and from what we have seen of Kruger in the Swedish ranks and during his rookie season there seems that there is much to be excited about with him.
Now if Kruger does struggle in his role between Hossa and Sharp the ‘Hawks are looking extremely thin down the middle especially when it come to having a top 6 centerman. If Kruger cannot produce or create any type of chemistry with his linemate the ‘Hawks may need to look to the trade market which is always a scary proposition.
Looking at the trade market it is very scarce when it comes to talent at the second line center position so here’s to hoping that the Kruger can develop chemistry with his line mates and hopefully he can continue his steady development. If Kruger can meet all those criteria then it is possible that the Blackhawks could have their 2nd line center of the future and if not then they may need to turn their attention to the trade market.