In a move likely designed to make room for Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa to come off of injured reserve, the Chicago Blackhawks sent forwards Jeremy Morin and Jimmy Hayes down to Rockford of the AHL on Tuesday morning.
Hayes has one goal and two assists in nine games since his March 12th recall by the Hawks, and Morin scored a goal on Sunday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings in one of his only two games with the team.
With the return of Hossa and Sharp to the lineup, the Hawks could possibly be playing at full strength for the first time in a month. The reason for the “possibly” qualifier is because the status of center Dave Bolland is uncertain for Thursday’s game against the Blues. Bolland suffered a lower-body injury when he blocked a shot from Nashville’s Shea Weber on Monday night, so there’s no clear indication of whether or not he’ll be able to play.
If Bolland can go, he’ll likely remain the second line center with Sharp and Patrick Kane alongside him. Hossa meanwhile would return to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews.
If Joel Quenneville is feeling adventurous, he could theoretically move the lineup around a bit to get some more production out of Bolland, as well as enabling a spot to open up for new acquisition Michal Handzus. Here’s a lineup for Quenneville to consider:
Sharp isn’t the best center in the league by any stretch, but his faceoff numbers are far better than Bolland or Kruger’s this season, and he is a smart enough hockey player that he can handle the added defensive responsibilities. In addition, having guys like Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Kane on a line alongside him will take some of the extra strain off, because their speed would force teams to play back on their heels rather than taking an aggressive tact against the Hawks’ second line.
Breaking up the third line isn’t an ideal scenario, but with GM Stan Bowman hamstrung from making any other moves without having to give up a player under contract, the Hawks will have to get a bit creative if they want to slot Bolland in a different spot. Putting him on the third line with a couple of grinders with scoring ability seems like a tailor-made recipe for success for Bolland, and with a nice offensive line behind them with Kruger and Frolik taking the wing spots with Handzus centering, it could open up the floodgates for the struggling Hawks center.
Naturally, we won’t know anything until the Hawks take the ice in practice in the run-up to Thursday’s game, but with those roster moves being made, let the speculation begin.