Not every Chicago Blackhawks player deserves his own grade post
During the 2015-16 NHL season, the Chicago Blackhawks used a lot of players. It felt like there was a new face in the lineup every game for a while. Thirty-seven guys played at least one game with the club last season.
Now it’s not exactly easy to come up with a complete grade post for some of these guys, as they weren’t around very long or just didn’t take the ice often. So anyone who didn’t get a grade post earlier this offseason is going into this post.
We’ve actually got a decent number of players to get to in this post, so let’s get started.
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Kyle Baun: F
The Blackhawks pretty much ensured Baun would be on the opening night roster last season with guarantees involved in getting him to leave college early. As a result, the Blackhawks had an unprepared youngster taking the ice for their first two games, and he did absolutely nothing (one shot on goal, minus-2 rating).
Even General Manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville, who often give certain players a ton of rope despite their on-ice woes, decided Baun needed more work and quickly dispatched him to Rockford. He wasn’t much better there, either, posting nine points in 43 games.
Bryan Bickell: D-
At least Bickell had a couple points (literally) for the Blackhawks. The relationship between him and the team was so sour coming into the season that it left Bickell’s NHL roster spot extremely tenuous. As a result, he played in just 25 games for the Blackhawks, posting a minus-5 rating.
He was much better in Rockford, tallying 31 points in 47 regular-season games. He also handled his demotion like a consummate professional before being moved to Carolina this offseason. But it doesn’t change the fact he was really bad on the ice in Chicago last season.
Trevor Daley: C
The defenseman just didn’t fit the role Q wanted him to, nor the role the Blackhawks needed him to. Daley’s biggest attribute, his offense, never came to be as he posted just six assists in 29 games before being traded to Pittsburgh at midseason. He did some positive things, but he didn’t necessarily help the Blackhawks.
Phillip Danault: B-
Trading Danault to Montreal was a bit of a gut shot, especially after he played pretty well in his limited time with the Blackhawks last season. Marcus Kruger was injured for a large portion of the year, requiring Danault’s presence.
He had just five points in 30 games, but he served as a fine defensive center and had plenty of room for development. Unfortunately, he’s going to be doing that with the Canadiens.
Marko Dano: C
Dano was hardly given a shot with the Blackhawks, posting just two points in 13 games in Chicago before being traded to Winnipeg in the Andrew Ladd deal. Dano had a nice 23 points in 34 games with Rockford last season and showed a willingness to get to the net and get in opponents’ faces.
But he was a key piece of the Brandon Saad trade, and the Blackhawks expected an immediate return. They didn’t get it, and so Dano will spend his developmental years in Winnipeg.
I wish the Blackhawks would’ve tried to use Ehrhoff more, especially when the playoffs rolled around. Instead, the veteran defenseman got in just eight regular-season games, posting two assists. It was a waste of a capable body.
A lot of Blackhawks fans soured on Fleischmann amazingly quickly, and I’m not sure why. He had some nice moments with Teuvo Teravainen toward the end of the regular season and wound up with five points in 19 games.
But he was eventually slotted to try and fill the top-line left wing role. When he couldn’t do that, he was a healthy scratch come playoff time. The Blackhawks using Fleischmann out of his ability level does not make him a bad player. In fact, I think his run with the Blackhawks was the best of their trade deadline acquisitions versus what was expected.
Ryan Garbutt: C
Another guy who the Blackhawks constantly tried to use out of his ability level, Garbutt wound up with six points in 43 games before being moved to Anaheim. He certainly never slacked during a shift, but he just wasn’t that good.
Ryan Hartman: C
One point in three games and then sent back down to the AHL. There wasn’t much to talk about here, though there will probably be more next season, as Hartman is a strong possibility to crack the opening night roster.
Hinostroza got a little more leash than Hartman (seven games), but he couldn’t crack the scoresheet. Hinostroza, like Hartman, has promise and a strong possibility of making the roster out of training camp. He just needs more time on the NHL ice.
Tanner Kero: C
Kero was one of the few youngsters who got called up and actually stuck around for a while. He wasn’t that bad, either, notching three points in 17 games. He just can’t be asked to play above a bottom-six role, which I guess you could say about Hartman and Hinostroza. Kero was fine in his stint, nothing special.
Andrew Ladd: C-
Yeah, Ladd had the most offensive production of the guys acquired at the deadline (12 points in 19 regular-season games, two points in seven postseason games). But the Blackhawks expected and needed so much more from him.
The team more or less decided it was going all in when it decided to acquire Ladd. He was a useful presence in front of the net, but he didn’t produce much individually. It was disappointing and frustrating for Blackhawks fans to see, especially knowing he was just a rental.
Mark McNeill: C
He played in one game, and it was a game against the Carolina Hurricanes that the rest of his teammates couldn’t be bothered to get up for. At least he finally made his NHL debut.
Panik showed some nice promise toward the end of the postseason and was probably the Blackhawks’ best forward in the final couple games. He wound up with eight points in 30 regular-season games and three assists in six postseason tilts. He used his size to his advantage and wasn’t afraid to get to the dirty areas to produce offensively, which was great to see.
Panik re-signed with the club this offseason, though it’s uncertain what role he’ll play moving forward. Some seem to expect him to take a top-six role for the 2016-17 season, but there’s little to suggest he can handle that for 82 games. Panik is an interesting guy to watch moving forward.
The defenseman wasn’t really wanted, as shown by the Blackhawks loaning him to a team from another country. He had two assists in nine regular-season games and actually got into three playoff games. That’s how bad the Blackhawks’ defensive situation was.
Rundblad just didn’t have much of a clue on how to play in the defensive zone and was consistently taken off the puck. His offensive decisions came far too slowly. It was good for the two sides to separate this offseason.
Rob Scuderi: C-
I’m not sure what the Blackhawks expected to get when they traded Daley for Scuderi, but they got another Michal Rozsival. Scuderi played in 17 games, scored no points, had to be heavily sheltered and was moved for Ehrhoff.
Jiri Sekac: C
Another guy who wasn’t given much of a shot, he had a point in six games before being summarily sent away. He could’ve been a useful bottom-six piece if the Blackhawks weren’t so adamant their new acquisitions score six points a game upon joining the team.
The giant youngster has some nice offensive upside (four points in 27 games) and can effectively use his reach in a defensive manner. But he’s just sooooooo slow, and his defensive positioning is not yet up to snuff.
It won’t be surprising if we see Svedberg playing for the Blackhawks at some point in 2016-17, but he needs to make strides in the defensive department sooner rather than later if he wants to be in the Blackhawks’ long-term plans.
Viktor Tikhonov: D+
Tikhonov was another guy who was expected to immediately contribute, and he wasn’t able to while being thrown around various lines. So the Blackhawks sent him away. Tikhonov didn’t do much of anything (no points in 11 games) besides translate for Artemi Panarin.
Dale Weise: C-
Weise was another trade-deadline acquisition who was mostly invisible, in part because Q immediately didn’t trust him. Weise had just one point in 15 regular-season games and added a nice goal in four postseason tilts. I think the Blackhawks just expected a little more, but Q wasn’t really interested in giving Weise the easiest chances to provide that.