What Do The Blackhawks Need?
With how this team is performing, you could make a case for both a forward and defenseman. The ‘Hawks could use another true center who can win some draws, also taking the load off of Toews. That’s no secret.
Wingels isn’t a true center. Schmaltz has been struggling in the dot, but has looked great of late in every other aspect of being a center. If Stan and Co have enough confidence in Schmaltz, and newcomer Kampf keeps up his solid defensive work, the Hawks could line up with Toews, Schmaltz, Anisimov, and Kampf down the middle in the playoffs, sending Wingles to the wing.
On the other end, after Franson being waived, it’s pretty clear that for now, the Blackhawks seven defenseman for the time being are as follows: Keith, Seabrook, Kempny, Murphy, Rutta, Forsling, and Oesterle.
Fans and Media alike have been pointing out of late that the Blackhawks won the cup with four legitimate defenseman in 2015, and they’re not wrong. The Blackhawks are blessed with defensive depth right now, but with one more true top four defenseman, that could push them over the hump.
It’s no secret that they’re giving up way too many shots, scoring opportunities, and odd man rushes. Just look at the first period of the Vegas game. While Crawford’s return, whenever that will be, will help, the Blackhawks could use one more solid defenseman. There’s a saying, “defense wins championships,” and that’s completely true.
Who Is Most Likely To Go?
Before I give any options, there’s one thing I need to mention. Everything I lay out below is solely dependent on the mindset of the brains behind the Blackhawks. Do they want to load up, and shoot for one more cup in the next year or two? Or, are they okay with a few potentially subpar years, letting their young guys grow and gain experience?
It was reported last month by John Jaeckel that Kempny is on the block, being looked at by Ottawa. He has potential, but needs ice time to reach that potential, he needs to be able to play through this mistakes. That’s something that a rebuilding team can afford, not the Blackhawks.
Last year, during the Matt Duchene sweepstakes, it was reported that Ryan Hartman was a piece the Avalanche were interested in. While Stan wasn’t willing to part with him at the time, I have a feeling he could be apart of a package this year, if the terms are right.
He’s a RFA after this season, and if the Blackhawks think he may command too much money to be apart of their long term future, they may try to move him. He’s one of the few players on the current roster who has enough potential to be of interest to teams, but who is also expendable for the right return.
Another one of those players that I feel is in the same boat, is Gustav Forsling. He has looked really good this season at some points, and has also had his fair share of shaky performances. He has one more year of control before he becomes an RFA, and has some serious potential. If they can get a defenseman that would be an upgrade from Forsling, that isn’t a pure rental, I would be okay with him being included in a deal.
I think most of the other young guys currently on the roster are safe. I don’t see guys like Schmaltz, DeBrincat, or Vinnie being moved before the deadline.