For a very long time, this position has been held by one man. Even last year when he wasn’t playing it was his spot. Jonathan Toews.
Jonathan Toews has been the Blackhawks #1 Center since the 08-09 season. That is one hell of a run! Last year he sat out the season with what is being called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Essentially, all of the stress he has put on his body, for the past decade was too much.
He is working out in Chicago with teammates, and it looks good that he is going to play this season. When, is the big question and how, is another one. What type of player will he be?
Taser typically plays in all situations. First line center, pp1, pk1, 2-man down pk1, game is on the line in the offensive zone, game is on the line defensive zone.
With his health being what it is, and taking his age into consideration, we can’t move forward like this. One of the best things we can do is leave him as the top line center, and pp1. Take him off of PK and limit other situations. By doing this we give Dach a season or so to grow into the #1 center that the management, and the fanbase want him to be.
When Dach takes over the top line center position, possibly next season, Toews can take over as a shutdown center on the team. A position he thrives in, and won’t have any burden of having to produce offensively. This will extend his career, and play in a key position on the team.
The Argument against Dach playing 1st line center now.
Kirby had a freshman season that showed a lot of promise of what he could do. Before his first season, he had a small back injury that prevented him from finishing camp. Before his sophomore season, he injured his wrist in World Juniors. Having strong wrists is important to being a center. He was rushed back midway into the season, and experienced issues with his wrist. He has had an off-season to rehabilitate his wrist, and is looking to make it a strong camp. This is essentially his first season where he is coming in healthy, and ready to take the next step. It would be wise to let this 20yr old kid grow into his role, without a fanbase with blood thirsty eyes telling him he needs to reach his full potential by game 2.
I think Tyler Johnson will fit in nicely on the second line center role. His role changed over the past few years with Tampa Bay, and he didn’t complain, he just went with it. He had second line duties there, then moved to a 4th line role. Not because his play suffered, they just had a team of studs over there. He has speed, he’s defensively responsible, has played with top notch offensive weapons, and most importantly can win faceoffs. Having a center that can win faceoffs for Patrick Kane would be huge. It helps the possession game, and gives an opportunity for DeBrincat and Kane to do their thing.
Toews can stay as the top line center, as long as we give him what he can handle at the beginning. I believe we are looking at a first line of Kubalik-Toews-Hagel. Winning faceoffs and dishing off to those 2 guys sounds like a good gig for him.
The key to this season will be game management for Toews. Games with long minutes should be avoided. We don’t want to put too much stress on his body, where he starts having issues again. Especially with The Blackhawks looking to make a push to make the playoffs this year. I think the occasional night off could be a solution to get him ready for a push come spring time, and hopefully seeing Jonny lift the cup again in June
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