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When you’re stacked with loads of talented youth in your system and under-performing or injured starters in the NHL, in comes the carousel of players going back and forth between the NHL and AHL.  Case in the point, the 2011-12 Blackhawks.

With the return of Marcus Kruger from injury this morning Joel Quenneville was forced to make a decision about which of his young studs wouldn’t make the cut.

Marcus Kruger, as a center, will always find a warm welcome on the Hawks, seeing as they need as much help as possible in the middle.  With rookies Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes playing lights out and both producing huge last night against Minnesota, Q had a decision to make.

Ben Smith has an exciting future in the NHL.  He has a knack for playing smart hockey and being at the right place at the right time.  He made quite the impression with fans last year in the playoffs, scoring 3 goals in the series against Vancouver, which were the result of great positioning.  He’s been up and down all year, and this speaks volumes about Coach Q’s respect for his talent.

The Blackhawks are currently having the best of problems.  They have so much young talent that they have to choose which players get to stay. Shaw and Hayes have been everything the Hawks needed and more.  They’ve provided power play scoring, hits, and energy, all categories the Hawks were greatly lacking before their call-ups.

For now, Shaw and Hayes are here to stay.  Their energy is contagious, as evidenced by the revival of the powerplay and third and fourth lines.  The Hawks will need this energy in a tough weekend at Detroit and home versus the Sharks.