Chicago Blackhawks: There might be a different top-line center

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks have a lot of great forwards. A lot of their offense comes from their wingers. Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Dominik Kubalik are all outstanding offensive players that have different strengths. However, as good as it is to have some of these outstanding wingers, they need more from their centermen.

Jonathan Toews is back this year after missing all of last year with some health issues. It was assumed that he would come back and just take over as the top-line center right away. Based on their scrimmage lineups, it doesn’t seem like that is the case for now.

Kirby Dach is another candidate for that job but the scrimmage lineups suggest that isn’t going to be the case either. He was the top-line center on Team Black but he was with Dominik Kubalik and Philipp Kurashev as his wingers. These lines could mean nothing but they are certainly trying it for a reason.

Jonathan Toews was on Team Red but he was listed as the second-line center. He had Lukas Reichel and Brandon Hagel on his wings. The top-line center on Team Red was Tyler Johnson who had Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat with him. That has all the makings of a top-line right now based on the wingers and Johnson’s ability.

Tyler Johnson is going to make a big impact with the Chicago Blackhawks this year.

Johnson is perfect to be on the top line with those two. He is the type of centerman who wins 50/50 puck battles and gets to the front of the net. With snipers like Kane and DeBrincat on his sides, that could form a lot of success.

The Blackhawks acquired Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning during the offseason. His role there diminished as time went on because they kept getting better and better as a team. With Chicago, he should see his production climb back up based on his increased role. If he is playing top-line minutes with studs like Kane and DeBrincat, he should be in great shape.

Of course, this isn’t something that is guaranteed to stick. Dach or Toews could take that role away from Johnson at literally any time. However, keeping the lines this way could allow Jeremy Colliton to have extra depth in his forward groups. If Johnson, who is probably the least skilled of the three centers, works well with Kane and DeBrincat, that pushes Toews and Dach down where they can feast on lesser matchups.

This could prove to be a huge addition for the Chicago Blackhawks. If they have this level of center depth all season long, they are going to be hard to play against. Seeing Johnson’s role expand again like it was in his early Lightning days should be really fun to watch. This might not be what people expected but there is a good chance that it works if it stays this way.

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