The Weakest Link at Every Position for Chicago Blackhawks

Nicole Blum@@nblumNHLContributor IIIAugust 5, 2013

The Weakest Link at Every Position for Chicago Blackhawks

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    With the offseason comes time for the Chicago Blackhawks to evaluate weaknesses in every position. However, it's hard to find many weak links on the Stanley Cup champion team.

    Depth made the Blackhawks the best team in the NHL last season—although it always can be improved.

    The following slides review the players needing the most improvement at their respective positions.

Defenseman: Nick Leddy

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    Before I begin, let me say that Nick Leddy is on his way to becoming a top defenseman in the NHL. Leddy's speed and offensive potential are the same qualities of elite defensemen.

    The 22-year-old, however, needs to refine his reads on when to challenge a player and when to rush back on defense. Leddy finished the playoffs with a team-worst minus-eight plus/minus rating. Joel Quenneville benched the defenseman for more than 57 minutes of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    Let's keep in mind that Leddy's decision-making skills will only improve as he gains more experience in the NHL.

    For now, Leddy is the Blackhawks' sixth defenseman—but the Minnesota native has much time to change that.

Left Wing: Brandon Bollig

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    Brandon Bollig played 30 games in the regular season and playoffs. In those 30 games, he tallied zero points.

    To be fair, the enforcer averaged only eight minutes per game, and his role is not to score goals. No production, however, is disappointing.

    If the Missouri native wants a permanent spot with Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith on the fourth line next season, some offense should be expected.

    The Blackhawks need Bollig to step up his game.

Center: Michal Handzus

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    Michal Handzus proved invaluable for the Blackhawks in the playoffs. Scoring three crucial goals and tallying eight assists, he played well between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.

    Keep in mind that Handzus played between two of the best forwards in the league during the playoffs. He deserves some credit, no doubt, but he's not a permanent second-liner.

    He still needs to improve his faceoff percentage.

    The Slovak, who was originally picked up from San Jose to win faceoffs, only had a 46.4 faceoff percentage in the playoffs.

    Hopefully Handzus will find a spot as a reliable center on the team this year.

Right Wing: Jimmy Hayes

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    Jimmy Hayes is no weak link in terms of size. The 6'6" forward can blind the goalie when he stands in front of the net.

    But he needs consistency in his game.

    In the 2011-2012 season, Hayes spent a good portion of the year with the Blackhawks. He started out his 31-game run with the Blackhawks with much production but ended up with only five goals and four assists.

    Coming off a 25-goal AHL season, however, Hayes will have the opportunity to prove himself as a key role player for the Blackhawks this coming year.