Chicago Blackhawks’ New Franchise Core Slowly Falling Into Place

By Mario Tirabassi
Feb 19, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz (8) brings the puck into the Buffalo Sabres zone during the first period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz (8) brings the puck into the Buffalo Sabres zone during the first period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /
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Who could be the “new core”?

With all this said and as things stand now, who really is the “new core” of the Chicago Blackhawks? It can’t be a core of 15 new players in the next handful of years. Even the core as it was during the 2015 Stanley Cup run (Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson) was an anomaly, in having seven standout players for a run like Chicago has produced.

Let’s breakdown the “new core” into players under 25 years old and place them into three categories: locks, complementary and unknowns.

Locks

While the list may be small, these are three players who will no doubt play huge roles in the franchise moving forward. The potential of Schmaltz and Hartman is growing by the game, and what Alex DeBrincat has done in the OHL, the potential he possesses and what more training at an NHL level can do for him physically makes him the most can’t-miss player for the Blackhawks maybe since Kane or Toews.

Complementary

There is a great chance that some of these young players could present themselves as potential future locks with another season of production at the NHL level.

Hayden, Hinostorza and Kero have a step ahead of Forsling and Motte out of these five, but the aging core of the defense bodes well for Forsling in the next one to two seasons, and Motte can be a reliable bottom-six, penalty-killing forward with some more seasoning.

Unknown future pieces

  • Graham Knott
  • Alexandre Fortin
  • Matthew Highmore
  • Anthony Louis
  • Luc Snuggerud
  • Chad Krys
  • Roy Radke
  • Radovan Bondra
  • Matt Iacopelli

This list could go on and on, but most of these players have already shown that they can be reliable at the NCAA or CHL levels of play and have been in the high praises of the Blackhawks’ front office since they joined the organization. As soon as next season, players like Knott and Fortin could see time at the NHL level, and that is exciting for the future of the Blackhawks.

Next: 5 Thoughts On Shootout Win Over Dallas

For some time, Chicago was a top-heavy franchise, constantly recycling players to keep in contention with the future horizon only as far as the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the first time in recent memory, the future for the Blackhawks seems to have much more in store beyond mid-June and, on the flipside, takes nothing away from the current contention for the Stanley Cup.

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