Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland has been the subject of talk amongst fans as the 2013 season has progressed. It's safe to say that Bolland has failed to meet the expectations set for him when play began in January.
I was an advocate of the 'Hawks giving Bolland the chance to center the second line before the season started. I felt that Chicago needed to give him an extended stretch of games to show what he could do. 'Hawks GM Stan Bowman apparently felt the same way, as reported by Brad Boron of ChicagoBlackhawks.com:
We’ve slotted Dave in at that third-line role for a long time…now is the time to give him an expanded role on our team. The timing is now to see if it fits. He’s got a lot of skills, and he’s scored a lot of big goals for us. He’s got the ability to do things offensively…He’s really earned the opportunity to see what he can do. Dave’s well-suited to give it a chance.
Bolland has played 30 games in his current role of second-line center. Here's how it's gone for him this season:
- He has seven goals and seven assists for a total of 14 points. Keep in mind that linemate Patrick Kane has 19 goals and 25 assists.
- He is the lone forward with a negative skater rating. In fact, his minus-four is the worst on the team.
- Bolland's faceoff percentage is 45.2 percent. For a line that needs to have the puck for maximum effectiveness, that is not acceptable.
Bolland has also been dinged up numerous times over the course of the schedule. He has missed six games this season and will not be traveling to Nashville for Saturday's game, according to Scott Powers of ESPNChicago.com.
Bolland took a shot off of his foot in the opening period Monday night against the Predators. He left that game but was able to skate 12:57 in Chicago's shootout loss to St. Louis. Is that foot bothering him or are there other nagging injuries hampering his performance?
Something could be keeping Bolland from being 100 percent. He could also just not be working out in his jump to the second line.
Bolland is not generating offense despite having one of the hottest scorers in the league on his right side. Skaters like Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell have more points than Bolland in far less ice time. Fourth-line center Marcus Kruger trails Bolland by a mere three points.
If Bolland is suffering from a chronic malady, such as his back problems of recent campaigns, then he needs to sit until he is able to raise his game. If he just isn't cutting it, another option may need to be considered.
Kruger could move up to the second line. Newly acquired Michal Handzus had a pretty good game Thursday, but probably doesn't have the get-up-and-go at 36 to drive that line.
Not too many miles away, Brandon Pirri and his 57 points (including 38 helpers) toil in Rockford. Is it time to give the youngster a shot at some NHL minutes?
If you are the type that thinks outside the box, you could make a case for signing IceHogs captain Martin St. Pierre to an NHL deal. St. Pierre has 21 goals and 29 assists, but not much of a track record outside of the AHL at age 29.
The Blackhawks' choices are limited to what they have in their organization. Bolland has received the chance to show what he can do. At this point in his audition, he hasn't shown enough.