Power Play Units
A huge hole was made on the Blackhawks power play after Alex DeBrincat was traded to the Senators. Like his mentor Patrick Sharp before him, DeBrincat was a fixture on the 1st PP unit ripping one-timers on backdoor plays from the left of the crease.
To a lesser degree, the departures of Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach also created holes on the power play. Despite declining numbers, Kubalik was always dangerous sending lasers from the circle or point. Dach was able to create space and set up plays.
Who fills these openings this coming season?
Another right-hand shot with goal-scoring ability is winger Taylor Raddysh so he seems to be an obvious choice to take DeBrincat’s spot. While he’s not on the same level as DeBrincat, Raddysh has the skill set and could suffice on a rebuilding team.
The rest of PP1 should be the usual suspects of Seth Jones as the quarterback, Patrick Kane along the right half wall, and Jonathan Toews down low. So that Toews doesn’t take a ton of abuse, Max Domi may be an ideal candidate to terrorize the goalie.
Moving onto PP2, this unit could have a variety of options. The quarterback depends on who makes up the blueline corps but consider Caleb Jones, Ian Mitchell, or Alec Regula. Jones should be the last resort with preference for one of the youngsters.
Mitchell was not only the #1 defenseman for the IceHogs last season but was also killer as a PP quarterback. He walks the line gracefully, hammers point shots low and on target, and owns agility to retreat swiftly to the neutral zone if a turnover occurs.
Regula could be an even better QB for the 2nd unit. He has a booming shot from the point, has great mobility, and has a long reach to keep pucks in during attempted clears. While he played the bumper in juniors, he really doesn’t thrive there in the pros.
As for the remaining members of PP2, Tyler Johnson could play the half wall but the opposite side as Kane then have Andreas Athanasiou as the shooter on the right flank. Johnson and Domi could flip flop but Domi’s sandpaper may benefit PP1 better.
Philipp Kurashev adds a dual threat to pass or snipe. Lukas Reichel adds another similar threat if he makes the team. If grit is needed to eclipse the goalie, there’s Boris Katchouk or Sam Lafferty. Although neither has soft hands, Katchouk has a slight edge.
It’s evident that there’s a significant drop off in talent from PP1 to PP2. The 1st unit is undoubtedly going to get the lion’s share of seconds in the 60-90 range. Ideally that’s enough time to tally. If not, the 2nd unit has a half minute to cash in.
What other unit combinations would you suggest?
The IceHogs have added former player Rob Klinkhammer (2007-2012) to their coaching staff. With Anders Sorensen as the head coach, Klinkhammer joins Jared Nightingale as an assistant coach with Peter Aubry continuing as the goaltending coach.
After an official roster was set, Team Sweden has brought aboard Blackhawks 2021 draft pick Victor Stjernborg. A natural center, Stjernborg is comparable to Marcus Kruger and David Kampf: limited offense but solid defense and endless motor.
See you on the boards!
Sources: Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, NBC Sports Chicago, The Athletic Chicago