Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson has a long road ahead of him this offseason. With the current state of the Blackhawks on and off the ice, a lot is needed to turn this franchise around and return it to its former glory.
This process will take more than a single offseason. To think otherwise is wishful thinking, and that is putting it nicely.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are cup winning hockey teams. Particularly not teams coming off of a bottom-ten season and a front office that has faced some controversy to say the absolute least. Nevertheless, this offseason is an important one, and these are some of the concerns that should be addressed in the coming months:
An Answer in Net
This is admittedly a more short-term focus. The Blackhawks have some promising goaltender prospects in Drew Commesso and Jaxson Stauber (The former in particular) but neither are ready for the NHL spotlight yet. Commesso still has yet to sign a contract and Stauber could use some time in the AHL to develop.
Regardless of those two and their potential futures, someone has to play next season. Do you bring back Lankinen and Delia knowing you aren’t looking to compete next year? Do you find a different stop-gap pair in free agency?
Ideally, you’d bring in a guy who is younger and NHL ready. Guys who could potentially reach another level, but won’t break the bank if they don’t. Maybe an Adin Hill or Joonas Korpisalo. Someone who can bridge the gap of bad hockey in the near future and would be a decent asset in a couple years when the team is, hopefully, on the up-swing.
Those two guys are just examples, Hill has never had a starting Job in the show and Korpisalo battles endless injury, but for the time being they wouldn’t be terrible options. I mean as it stands, can it get much worse?
More Draft Picks
Look this one is pretty straight-forward. We already established that the Blackhawks are starved for a first round pick. Solution: get more picks. Obviously, this would mean parting ways with some current roster players and possibly some picks of lesser value, but given the state of the team some players getting moved is no huge loss. As long as it is for the right price, of course.
Now this doesn’t mean they should completely strip the lineup for parts or anything. There are some pieces on this team that would be wonderful to keep around in the future, but Davidson is really going to have to evaluate which pieces those are in the next couple months here.
I know he’s only been around for a season, but there is probably a decent market for Seth Jones. A productive offensive defenseman like that could net a sizable pool of picks, but one would think that if he wasn’t moved at the deadline the odds of it happening now are fairly slim. However, stranger things have happened.
A Permanent Head Coach
At this point in time, Derek King still acts as Interim Head Coach of the Blackhawks. In order to move forward with this rebuild the front office simply must either remove that Interim prefix from his title or find someone else they deem suitable for the job not just now, but for the future too.
Whatever the decision is, they need to make it soon. With the draft and free agency coming in July, one would hope that a pA germanent bench boss is in place before then so he could have some say in the decisions made during that time. These players will have to fit into the coaches scheme after all, it only makes sense to have that perspective before you sign any contracts or make any picks.
It’s hard to say who will be behind the bench for the Blackhawks next season. As it stands it will most likely be Derek King again, but I wouldn’t count out an outsider just yet. Maybe Barry Trotz? Thats a guy that can turn a team around with solid defending and star scoring. Whoever it is, they’ll need to be wiling to stick around for a bit, otherwise it wont matter all that much.
Just Please not Peter Deboer.
A Good Showing at the World Juniors
After it’s cancellation in the winter, the World Juniors will continue in August. Or restart I suppose. With this comes an opportunity to see what the Blackhawks really have in the system and create some expectations for their prospects.
Teams will have an opportunity to change their rosters from what they carried in December, but we can do some educated guessing and good old fashioned speculation to take a look at who may be representing the Windy City come summer time.
The aforementioned Drew Commesso is probably the most intriguing of the bunch. Starting goaltender for Team USA and seemingly very competent at that. Some success in net for team USA could be huge for the outlook of the positions future in Chicago.
Joining Commesso on team USA is University of Minnesota Duluth defenseman Wyatt Kaiser. The 19-year-old blueliner put up 19 points in 34 games last season and has gotten a hefty amount of playoff experience in his first two years of collegiate hockey. Kaiser is one of the most versatile defenseman playing NCAA and so far seems to be developing very well since being drafted in the third round in 2020.
The last prospect we’ll take a look at is Colton Dach. Dach was not on the team Canada roster in December, however after the 19 year old posted 79 points in 61 games with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL this past season he very well may be a new addition. Kirby’s younger brother is the same height as him but actually slightly bigger (197 lbs for Kirby, 205 for Colton). He is a skilled forward who can really add the physical presence that team Canada will need to contend for Gold. Hopefully we get to see him compete on that stage.
A view of the future for Kane and Toews
We still don’t have an answer for where Patrick Kane and Jonathen Toews will be playing next season. We discussed it in a previous article, but it is still very up in the air as of now. It is going to come down mostly to what they want and how they view the future of the organization, but their future will also determine the future of the Blackhawks. If both players stay, suddenly this rebuild is going to be fast tracked for some contention in the near future, potentially overlooking long-term success for one more with legends.
Or maybe they’ll just stick around through the dark times and wait to pass along the torch to a new core ready for a dynasty of their own. Who’s to say.
If they do decide it’s time to move on from the windy city, it opens the door for a full rebuild of this roster. Keep some younger guys around to develop but move out a lot of pieces for futures. Kane could catch a good haul at the very least and Toews’ value may not be as large as it once was but it is certainly not as dire as some think. He is still productive and with some salary retention a move isn’t impossible.
A lot of what will happen with them comes down to their own motivations for next season and the rest of their careers. Davidson has these talks and many more ahead of him. He is in a very precarious position, an unenviable one certainly.
I certainly hope he has a good plan.
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