Chicago Blackhawks Among Central Division’s Offseason Losers

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 29: Niklas Hjalmarsson
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 29: Niklas Hjalmarsson /
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ST LOUIS, MO – JANUARY 01: Assistant coach Mike Kitchen of the Chicago Blackhawks talks with Artemi Panarin
ST LOUIS, MO – JANUARY 01: Assistant coach Mike Kitchen of the Chicago Blackhawks talks with Artemi Panarin /

Chicago Blackhawks: C-

Bowman knew this was going to be a rough offseason after his team was swept out of the playoffs by the Nashville Predators. It’s why he promised change at his first press conference following the early exit.

And change he brought. Let’s start with the positives (in my mind), because the Blackhawks’ grade here obviously isn’t strong.

I love the Brandon Saad deal. Yes, it’s unfortunate to lose a potent scorer like Artemi Panarin. But Saad is a better two-way player on a more cost-controlled contract. Plus, he knows the Blackhawks’ system. And the team got its new backup goaltender in the deal as well (though Tyler Motte was also lost).

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  • The jury is still out on the Niklas Hjalmarsson deal, but Connor Murphy is a younger defenseman who can play top-two minutes and has a lot of upside at both ends of the ice.

    Now, on the downside. Assistant coach Mike Kitchen getting axed seem to anger coach Joel Quenneville, pointing to a possible rift between the team’s major parties. AHL coach Ted Dent’s exit was just awkward. Losing Hjalmarsson significantly weakens Chicago’s defense. Marcus Kruger’s departure significantly weakens the team down the middle.

    The signings of Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma did little to pique interest. And while Patrick Sharp rejoining the team did pique interest, he’s one awkward hit away from possibly never playing again.

    You can say Bowman did what he could this offseason, and you wouldn’t be totally wrong. But this is not a bona fide playoff team we’re looking at. I still think the Blackhawks will make the playoffs in 2018, but a rough offseason will make for tough sledding.

    Colorado Avalanche: F

    The Avalanche have done very little this offseason, and one thing they failed to do pretty much secured them this grade. Matt Duchene is still part of this team, despite general manager Joe Sakic fielding offers left and right for the disgruntled forward.

    You can’t tell me Sakic didn’t get a single offer strong enough to make him want to move Duchene. What with the expansion draft and entry draft this year, there were likely ample opportunities to fill up the prospect system in Colorado. Instead, Sakic stood pat with a guy who doesn’t want to play for his team anymore.

    Beyond that, Francois Beauchemin was bought out. This makes Colorado’s defense actively worse. Nail Yakupov, Colin Wilson and Gabriel Bourque were somehow the big-name additions this offseason. This team might honestly be worse than the Golden Knights next season, and while Duchene was unlikely to have changed that, it could have at least set up the team for a brighter future.