2. Will Alex DeBrincat make the opening night roster?
Now this is thinking way down the road, but we’re talking about a guy who has gotten some major hype with the OHL’s Erie Otters. A second-round draft pick by the Blackhawks in 2016, DeBrincat won the OHL’s regular-season scoring title with 127 points, and has compiled a whopping 332 points in three seasons with the Otters.
That’s not including postseason stats either, which give DeBrincat another 38 points (and counting). This guy is making it impossible to ignore the possibility he winds up on Chicago’s opening night roster.
Of course, it’ll matter what he does both in prospect camp and training camp. But if he shows any inclination of being able to light the lamp, or helping his teammates do so, on a consistent basis, Q’s hand may be forced. It was almost done with Alexandre Fortin last offseason — and DeBrincat may break the barrier in 2017.
Da Windy City
The Blackhawks could really use a shot in the arm after the way this season ended. The Artemi Panarin excitement has kind of faded. DeBrincat may be just the guy for the spot.
1. Will the Blackhawks qualify for the postseason?
This may seem like a crazy question … or maybe it doesn’t. At least half of the Western Conference seems to have caught up to the Blackhawks, despite them taking the conference title this year.
The outlook got a lot less rosy after the team was swept by Nashville. It’s clear the Predators are for real (as many projected in the preseason). St. Louis and Minnesota are at least on par with Chicago. Winnipeg is more on the rise than not, and is probably two good offseason moves away from postseason contendership.
In the Pacific, San Jose and Anaheim aren’t going anywhere right now. Edmonton is clearly on the rise. Calgary is doing whatever it does that somehow works.
That marks eight teams the Blackhawks could be in a battle with for a playoff spot next season. And surprises always happen — the Central Division title changes hands seemingly every year of late.
The Blackhawks looked very vulnerable at the end of their 2016-17 season. They’ll need to make some savvy moves to stay competitive despite what appeared to be a serious drop in various areas during this short postseason run.
Do I think the Blackhawks are going to finish last in the West next season? Absolutely not. But I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest they could be in a fight for a postseason spot. After all, they essentially used a month-long binge to net their lofty seeding in these playoffs. Beyond that … was it really that impressive of a season for Chicago?