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Where the Blackhawks’ new veteran players could slot into the lineup

The Blackhawks have several new veterans to fill out their lineup. Where will they go?

Dallas Stars v Colorado Avalanche - Game Seven
Nikita Zadorov of the Colorado Avalanche knocks the puck off the boards during warmups prior to Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Blackhawks made a number additions to their roster during a busy offseason that included several key departures. While none of these new skaters could be more important than who starts in net, they’ll still have significant impacts on the 2021 season.

Here’s the a look at potential roles for each of the four veteran additions: Mattias Janmark, Carl Soderberg, Lucas Wallmark and Nikita Zadorov.

Mattias Janmark, LW

2019-20 season stats: 6 G, 15 A, 87 shots (S), 6.9 shooting percentage (S%), 8.5 expected goals (ixG), 12 PIM, 14:37 ATOI
Advanced stats: 51.18 Corsi For percentage (CF%), 51.26 Shots For percentage (SF%), 40.91 Goals For percentage (GF%), 54.57 Expected Goals For percentage (xGF%), 57.21 High Danger Chances For percentage (HDCF%), 61.96 Offensive Zone Start percentage (oZS%)

Janmark was signed in October after spending the last four seasons with the Dallas Stars. He scored 109 points in those four seasons, including 46 goals. Janmark has been somewhat consistent throughout his career, and he scored six goals each of the last two seasons, with 25 points in 2018-19 and 21 (in 19 fewer games) in 2019-20.

Janmark doesn’t see much power play time — just 19 seconds per game in 2018-19 and 40 in 2019-20 — but he scored five points on the man advantage last season, including a goal and two primary assists. On the other hand, Janmark is a reliable penalty killer, averaging 1:40 of ice time per game last season. He scored a goal and a primary assist while shorthanded last year with more expected goals (ixG) on the penalty kill than on the power play (.94 to .69).

It’s best to think of Janmark as a reliable defensive-minded bottom six option this season, although Dallas oddly used him in a more offensive role last season. Janmark has had quality possession stats, taking large leaps last season from his ‘18-19 numbers.

Janmark will also likely be used as a second-unit penalty killer, especially with Jonathan Toews absent. The Blackhawks were lacking a penalty-killing wing with Brandon Saad gone and Janmark should fill that void.

Carl Soderberg, C

2019-20 season stats: 17 G, 18 A, 135 S, 12.59 S%, 15.19 ixG, 45.29 Faceoff percentage (FO%), 18 PIM, 15:53 ATOI
Advanced stats: 46.35 CF%, 47.94 SF%, 55.36 GF%, 47.34 xGF%, 46.75 HDCF%, 44.72 oZS%

Soderberg signed one day after Christmas, which turned out to be crucial timing. With both Kirby Dach potentially lost for the season and Toews out indefinitely, Soderberg will likely be in the top six to start (and the middle six for the full season), a position he has become comfortable with. He averaged 15:53 TOI per game in Arizona as a third-line center last season and averaged 17:26 the season before that in Colorado.

In that Colorado season, Soderberg had 49 points, including 23 goals. In the ‘19-20 season, Soderberg had 35 points with 17 goals. Across the board, Soderberg’s stats went down from ‘18-19 to ‘19-20. This could be a result of the talent difference between Arizona and Colorado or it could be the result of aging (Soderbeg is now 35). Or both.

Still, Soderberg remains someone who can factor in during 5-on-5 play, as he scored nine of his goals in 2019-20 there and 15 the season before. Soderberg can also play on the power play, averaging 2:12 TOI per game with Arizona. While he won’t be on the first unit this season — that will be Dylan Strome’s job — Soderberg could be the second-unit’s net-front presence.

Although Soderberg does help in multiple areas, he doesn’t in one notable way: faceoffs. Soderberg won just 45.29 percent of his faceoffs last season and 44.89 percent at five-on-five.

Lucas Wallmark, C

2019-20 season stats: 12 G, 13 A, 84 S, 14.29 S%, 9.36 ixG, 18 PIM, 50.33 FO%, 12:46 ATOI
Advanced stats: 51.04 CF%, 51.31 SF%, 48.08 GF%, 50.38 xGF%, 49.16 HDCF%, 54.75 oZS%

Wallmark signed along with Janmark (those names won’t get confusing) on Oct. 12. While Soderberg helps in multiple ways that aren’t faceoffs, Wallmark’s biggest boon is at the dot. He won 50.93 percent of his faceoffs in ‘18-19 and 50.33 percent in ‘19-20. That makes him a faceoff specialist to start the season (only three forwards were above 50 percent at the faceoff circle for Chicago last season: Toews, David Kampf and ... John Quenneville).

Wallmark will likely start the season on the third line but could bump down to the fourth if/when Toews returns. He averaged just 12:46 last season between Carolina and Florida and he doesn’t play much of either special teams unit (although he can if the need arises, as he averaged more than a minute both shorthanded and on the power play).

Like Janmark, Wallmark is likely best served as a defensive specialist, although his offensive role was higher than one would expect. He had a 54.75 oZS% in 2019-20 and 51.71 percent in 2018-19.

Wallmark doesn’t score much — just 25 points last season and 28 the season before — but he’s a forward capable of playing in the bottom six and coming in for a crucial faceoff.

Nikita Zadorov, D

2019-20 season stats: 4 G, 9 A, 65 S, 6.15 S%, 3.03 ixG, 65 PIM, 17:46 ATOI
Advanced stats: 50.49 CF%, 49.44 SF%, 50.67 GF%, 48.54 xGF%, 46.98 HDCF%, 41.36 oZS%

The only defenseman on this list, Zadorov was acquired along with Anton Lindholm in exchange for Saad and Dennis Gilbert and promptly signed a one-year qualifying offer. Zadorov had been with the Avalanche since being a part of the Ryan O’Reilly trade with Buffalo.

Zadorov was also the only member of this list to see his ATOI go up last season, as he went from 17:12 in ‘18-19 to 17:46 in ‘19-20. Still, Zadorov is a depth defenseman, which means the Blackhawks will likely play him with Ian Mitchell or another rookie defenseman on the bottom pairing.

That’s not a role Zadorov would do badly in, however. He doesn’t add much offense (14 points in ‘18-19, 13 in ‘19-20) but could cover up mistakes of a more offensive (or more inexperienced) partner. Zadorov played 139:07 with Cale Makar last season and 223:16 with Sam Girard. There’s a possibility that Zadorov, who can play either side, could play with Adam Boqvist as well this season.

Zadorov is also a defenseman who can play on the penalty kill and should replace Olli Maatta on the second unit with Calvin de Haan. He’ll have to stay out of the box to do so, however, as he had 65 PIM last season and 75 the season before. He doesn’t play much on the power play, just 11:38 over the last two seasons, in which time he has two penalties.