Meet your 2010-11 Hawks
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org
PROJECTED OPENING-NIGHT LINEUP :FIRST LINE: LW Tomas Kopecky, C Jonathan Toews, RW Marian Hossa
Toews and Hossa are two of the best two-way forwards in the NHL, and coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw in Kopecky when he played with them late in the Stanley Cup finals. Hossa is healthy unlike last season and a 40-goal season isn't out of the question. A 30-goal, 70-point season could be in the works for Toews.
SECOND LINE: LW Fernando Pisani, C Patrick Sharp, RW Patrick Kane
Sharp and Kane have played together many times in the past. Pisani is more known for his defense than his offense. Sharp settled in at center during the playoffs and is consistent on both ends of the ice. Kane has improved his point totals every season he has been in the NHL. He could reach the 100-point plateau.
THIRD LINE: LW Bryan Bickell, C Dave Bolland, RW Troy Brouwer
Any line with Bolland on it becomes the ''checking line'' after all the damage the pesky center inflicted against some of the NHL's best players last postseason. Brouwer is a versatile two-way forward with penalty-kill experience. Bickell isn't fast but he's big and physical. Bolland and Brouwer also have offensive minds when the situation dictates.
FOURTH LINE: LW Viktor Stalberg, C Jake Dowell, RW Jack Skille
Dowell is your typical fourth-line grinder who's strong defensively and a good penalty-killer. Skille and Stalberg are speedy and could wreak havoc on the forecheck. They could see time on higher lines as the season progresses if they show they can finish and score. This is the only line without a player from last season's playoff roster.
Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook
There aren't many defensive pairings in the NHL better than Keith and Seabrook. In fact, they may be the best. They've played together for years, and are adept at getting the puck out of the defensive zone and on the attack. No other Hawks will see more ice time than these two. They also backstop the team's first penalty-kill unit. Last season, Keith won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman. Seabrook is in a contract year.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy
With Brian Campbell out for at least a month, Leddy, a 19-year-old rookie, assumes the role next to Hjalmarsson. Leddy has a similar game to Campbell's, but his inexperience is something to keep an eye on. Hjalmarsson emerged as a top-four defenseman last season. The San Jose Sharks signed him to an offer sheet this summer, which the Hawks matched. It was a statement that Hjalmarsson is part of the Hawks' young core.
John Scott, Jordan Hendry
This is a big season for Hendry. His skating is his biggest asset, but he needs to improve his decision-making. Scott is the team's new tough guy. He's 6-7 and 247 pounds. He doesn't look for fights, but he understands it's part of his role.
Brian Campbell (injured), Nick Boynton (suspended)
Campbell is slated to return in four to five weeks after spraining his knee in the preseason. He's a big part of the Hawks' transition game. Boynton is suspended for the Hawks' first game after making a throat-slash gesture in exhibition play. He isn't fast, but he brings toughness. Both are expected to see time on the penalty kill.
Marty Turco, Corey Crawford
Turco, 35, was the goalie the Hawks targeted when they couldn't agree on a deal with Antti Niemi. He was an All-Star for the Dallas Stars and brings an impressive resume. He's a much better puck-handler than Niemi, and the Hawks will try to take advantage of that. Crawford, a longtime prospect, finally gets his chance after years in the minors.