Friday, June 14, 2024

Best-Case Scenario For Blackhawks’ Second Forward Line This Season

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As we touched on Wednesday, when the Blackhawks take the ice for the first time this October, all eyes will be on the team’s top attacking line featuring rookie sensation Connor Bedard. The line was injected with fresh talent this summer, and will now include Bedard and former first-overall pick Taylor Hall. The trio will be an exciting one and will look to score goals in bunches this year.

When that top line comes off the ice, however, opposing defenses will still need to be on their toes. The Blackhawks’ second forward line is filled with a trio of players who were on the team last year, only this time in a somewhat lessened role on the second line. In part two of the best-case scenario series, this group also has impressively high upside, with a healthy mix of young talent and veteran presence.

Lines being used in this series are from the team depth chart at CBS Sports.

Philipp Kurashev

The headlines for Kurashev this summer were primarily focused on his future with the team, as he underwent a lengthy arbitration process that saw him receive a new two-year, $2.25 million AAV contract at the end of July. While I project him to be moved to the third line in favor of Ryan Donato, it’s clear that Kurashev has the potential to blossom into a star in his own right. He’s fresh off a 25-point campaign where he was a strong offensive force and will look to continue to develop his game this year.

With his newly revamped line featuring stars like Lukas Reichel and Andreas Athanasiou, Kurashev has a chance to continue to improve. With the scoring prowess of both players, Kurashev will be asked to set them up with high-quality chances, which he’s more than capable of. With opposing defenses focusing on what should be high scoring output from the others, Kurashev will have a lot more room to work with, which could help him create chances of his own.

Lukas Reichel

The 21-year-old has quickly become a fan favorite in Chicago, and for good reason. He’s viewed as one of the brightest young stars in the entire Blackhawks system. He was able to make the jump to the NHL full-time toward the end of last season and was a top contributor with 15 points in 23 games. He’s a good puck handler and shot creator, and makes good on those chances with high effort.

Reichel will fit well on this second line thanks to his creativity and scoring ability. Athanasiou is likely the best pure scorer on this line, but Reichel can make a great impact shooting or passing. He’s certainly a player to keep an eye on this season as he looks to step up his game on a new line.

Andreas Athanasiou

Athanasiou rounds out the second line on the right side as a big-bodied winger with great speed and a blistering shot. In his first season with the Blackhawks last year, Athanasiou notched 40 points while being a staple in the top six for 81 games. He’s back with the team on a new two-year, $4.25 million AAV deal that some thought was far too high, though the Blackhawks had money to burn at that point. Can he make good on the vote of confidence from his team?

Athanasiou fits on the second line as a calming veteran presence alongside a pair of players who are much younger and less experienced. He rounds out a line that has plenty of speed and effort, and those traits should allow for plenty of possessions and chances for scorers like Athanasiou.

While the Blackhawks’ second forward line isn’t as highly touted or flashy as the first, they could be a headache for opposing defenses thanks to their ability to get to loose pucks, as well as their scoring and playmaking ability. Once the top forward line comes off the ice, there’s no shortage of talent.

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