Blackhawks lineup beginning to take shape

With the Antti Niemi situation settled, the Hawks' 2010-2011 lineup is much easier to predict.

The team can now dress a 21-man roster comfortably under the salary cap.
Based on recent signings and comments by General Manager Stan Bowman, here is what the lineup could resemble in October:
Kane/Toews/Brouwer
Hossa/Sharp/Kopecky
Stalberg/Bolland/Makarov
Bickell/Dowell/Skille
Keith/Seabrook
Hjalmarsson/Campbell
Hendry/Vishnevskiy
Scott
Turco
Crawford
That group of forwards seems to be set in stone with the exception of one or two players.
Bowman repeatedly expresses his excitement to see Skille, Dowell and Bickell in action. It'd be very surprising if they weren't in the opening night lineup.
Viktor Stalberg is another player the Hawks are high on, and his speed alone should give him a chance to produce out of the gate.
2006 Russian draft pick Igor Makarov will likely be given priority for that final roster spot. He has shown a reluctance to come to North America since being drafted, so it's unlikely he would have signed unless Bowman told him that a spot is his for the taking. He isn't here to play in Rockford.
The most unsettled piece of the roster is the third defense pairing. Jordan Hendry signed a cheap one-year deal on Thursday night and his experience should give him an edge to earn a spot. The other position is up for grabs.
Ivan Vishnevskiy, John Scott, Shawn Lalonde, and Jassen Cullimore will all be fighting for the spot in training camp. The Hawks may be reluctant to give Lalonde 3rd pairing minutes because he is a projected top 4 defenseman. They may prefer to skate him more minutes in Rockford for more experience. 
Vishnevskiy was one of the top prospects in the Atlanta system last year and is a favorite to earn the spot.
John Scott will contend as well, but I feel he is the perfect 7th defenseman/13th forward in this lineup. I'm skeptical of him playing on a nightly basis, and his ability to play both forward and defense would help team depth. Against bigger, physical teams like St. Louis, John Scott plays. That's the ideal scenario.
The wildcard is that Bowman might go get another defenseman in free agency. If that happens, pencil him in for the 5th defense spot while everyone else fights for the 6th.
Things can obviously change in training camp, but the Hawks' plan is pretty clear. 
-JT

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  • I'd prefer Stahlberg or Makarov to play w/Sharp and Hoss. Leaving Kopecky and his (probable) better defense and definite experience advantage for the Bolland(checking) line.

    But as alway John....good read

    See ya on the new site!!

  • In reply to hawksfreak18:

    I was thinking Brouwer on the 3rd line with Bolland. Then put some size with Toews and Kane.

    Bottom line though... they still can throw 3 top notch lines at anyone.

    Glad all the centers are back (except Madden).

  • In reply to KenyattaWright:

    Brouwer could play 3rd line, but I bet Q tries him with Kane and Toews first because that trio worked so well together in the regular season last year.

    Many people forget about Brouwer because of his limited playoff production, but that was because he was distracted by off-ice issues.

    IF Beach proves he is ready this year, I could see him skating with the two kids as well. He projects as a skilled physical power forward, so if things work out for him he could do very well on that line. I think that's what we'll see in 2011-2012.

  • Good observation, and I can't say I disagree.

    These lines themselves are definitely just a guess, they can vary greatly. I think that's an advantage this team has; many players can play different roles.

    Heck, Bickell played top line wing with 19 and 88 in a couple playoff games. Here, I have him on the 4th line.

    Skille can play a 4th line role but if he shows enough offensively he can be a top 6 player. Same with Makarov, who looked unbelievable in training camp two years ago. Put him with some talent and who knows?

    Thanks for reading.

  • I'd like to see Jassen Cullimore get on the team since he already has lots of NHL experience but from what I hear Vishneskiy is very talented.

    Either way I'd say they are safe with any of their choices they have

  • Cullimore scares me a bit because of 2005-2006 memories, but really I think he'd be similar to Sopel in terms of a veteran presence and penalty killing ability. I'd prefer to go a different route, but Cullimore seeing minutes wouldn't be the end of the world.

    The good thing is, unlike in the past, if a player struggles, there are plenty of other options.

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