Chicago Blackhawks Offseason What-Ifs Ahead Of 2017-18 Season

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Patrick Kane
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Patrick Kane /

This offseason has been full of questions and speculation for our beloved Chicago Blackhawks, specifically a lot of what-ifs. As fans, we consider endless scenarios involving our favorite sports teams. Below, I introduce and address some interesting what-if scenarios for the Blackhawks heading into the 2017-18 season.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced that the NHL was going to investigate the reasoning behind Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa’s planned long-term injured reserve placement. GMs of other teams have complained, speculating that the Blackhawks are just using Hossa’s reported skin condition as a way to gain some serious cap relief.

But, as 670 The Score’s Jay Zawaski (@JayZawaski670) states below, that is completely absurd.

It’s assumed that the NHL will deem Hossa’s condition LTIR-worthy, and that the Blackhawks will get the cap relief. It’s also assumed that based on the current group, general manager Stan Bowman will use this money to reshape his defense, whether it’s early in the season or at the trade deadline.

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This is unless, of course, the current rumors of getting Matt Duchene to play with Jonathan Toews are true, in which the money would go to Duchene, and I would immediately go purchase yet another Blackhawks jersey.

But that’s a story for another time. Hossa’s LTIR situation got me thinking about some what-ifs involving the Blackhawks heading into the 2017-18 season.

What if the Blackhawks get denied Hossa’s LTIR relief? 

The first obvious question here is how Bowman would handle in-season moves. We can be hopeful that Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny both take a jump on defense, that Cody Franson is a reliable sixth defenseman and that Jan Rutta can hold his own rotating in as a seventh defenseman.

If the defense doesn’t pan out and Bowman sought improvement, any trade sending major money the other way would hurt the team’s depth. Artem Anisimov is a name that has been thrown around all summer as trade bait, but trading him turns a team with sudden great center depth into a team lacking it completely.

Plugging one hole would ultimately open up another. Hopefully, the NHL is just doing its due diligence and the ‘Hawks will be granted relief. But hey, the Cubs won the World Series last year, so we’ve definitely all seen crazier things happen.

What if a new alternate captain position opens up? 

The only way that this would happen is if Bowman finds a way to unload Brent Seabrook and the rest of his atrocious contract. If this was to happen, which is highly unlikely at this point, who would be next in line to wear the A?

Before the 2017 NHL Draft, I would have said Niklas Hjalmarsson. He’d been around for the glory days, he was selfless, he put his body on the line for the team and he was a well-liked guy all around.

Now, I say Brandon Saad. He donned the nickname Man Child for a reason, as his maturity from Day 1 of his initial run in Chicago was beyond his age. His time in Columbus let him mature even more, he’s been saying all the right things to the press since he was reacquired and he seems determined to bring another Cup to Chicago.

He already seems to be a team leader, and he’s here to stay. Also, he looks pretty good wearing the A during these preseason games, don’t you agree?

What if the Blackhawks still had Andrew Shaw?

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  • If this was the case, the salary cap situation would be a little dicier. His $3.9mil cap hit for the next six years is affordable, but it doesn’t match his production in a Blackhawks lineup that needs to save every dollar it can.

    Ryan Hartman is a more offensively skilled and just as gritty option, for a lot less money. The main thing that is often forgotten, though, is that Shaw was traded for two draft picks — the 39th and 45th in the 2016 NHL Draft.

    The 39th pick turned into some guy named Alex DeBrincat, and the 45th pick turned into promising defensive prospect Chad Krys. That’s right, had Bowman not pulled the trigger on the Shaw trade when he did, this summer would have likely been a lot more boring. There’s no DeBrincat hype or speculation, and we would likely be talking about who is going to fill the 2LW spot long term.

    What if DeBrincat gets sent to Rockford to start the season?

    Up until the start of training camp, this had been the expectation. But DeBrincat has exceeded expectations, and is getting an extended look with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane.

    If DeBrincat was to be sent to Rockford, my money would be on him being on the team by February, giving him time to prep for the playoff run. Some time in Rockford might give him a smoother adjustment, but for now, he looks like he belongs with the big boys.

    What if there was no salary cap?

    The Blackhawks could probably field a playoff team with all of their cap casualties alone. They really could. That’s as in-depth as I’m going to go here, but just think about it, assuming each of these players has the level of ability right now that they did when they were with the ‘Hawks:

    Forwards: Patrick Sharp (returned), Brandon Saad (returned), Artemi Panarin, Antoine Vermette, Andrew Laad, Troy Brouwer, Brad Richards, Kris Versteeg, Teuvo Teravainen, Michael Frolik, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw.

    Honorable mentions to Bryan Bickell (2013 playoffs) and Dave Bolland.

    Defensemen: Nick Leddy, Dustin Byfuglien, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Brian Campbell (returned).

    Goaltenders: Scott Darling, Antti Raanta.

    What if the Blackhawks signed Jaromir Jagr?

    They won’t. But what if? The impact that a legend like Jagr would make in any lineup goes without saying, but it’s awesome to think about, right?

    Scoring 112 points in the past two seasons combined, wouldn’t Jagr look great on the ‘Hawks’ third or fourth line for around a $2 million, one-year deal? That would be a large pay cut for Jagr, but he just might take it if he has a chance to win one more Cup.

    If DeBrincat made the team, that would then slot one of Sharp or Hartman on the fourth line, and all of Chicago would probably yet again be watching hockey all the way into June. But, like I said, it won’t happen.

    He would be nice to have, but he’s not anywhere near a necessity. The Blackhawks already have an excess of veteran and young forwards competing for bottom-six spots, and Jagr would just add to this competition.

    Next: Measuring Brandon Saad's Scoring Potential

    The one thing about all of this that’s interesting is that Jagr recently announced that he’s making his decision for next season on October 5. That also happens to be Day 2 of the regular season, the day the Blackhawks presumably will have access to Hossa’s LTIR money. It’s probably just a coincidence. Probably.

    Dream on, ’Hawks fans.