With the Chicago Blackhawks struggling to make up ground in the postseason chase, most of the questions surrounding the squad are negative in nature
Can the Chicago Blackhawks qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs? It’s not looking like the chances are great at this moment, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change.
Still, there are plenty of questions to ask in the direction of not making the playoffs. And we have two of them today with our Chicago Blackhawks roundtable. Let’s take a look.
Question 1: Should the Blackhawks allow Corey Crawford to play the rest of the way, and why or why not?
Question 2: If the Blackhawks are trade-deadline sellers, what is their biggest piece and why?
Let’s see what our panel of Blackhawk Up experts had to say.
Question 1: If Corey Crawford is indeed on IR as a result of a concussion (and I don’t believe that has been confirmed), then by all means sit him for the remainder of this season. Crawford’s long-term health must take precedence.
Plenty can be learned from Sidney Crosby, who is probably playing the best hockey of his career years after he made the decision to shut it down for as long as it would take to feel 100 percent ready to return. Crawford needs to do the same.
The Chicago netminder has had several head injuries in his career, and there’s no need to rush him back. Last I heard, oddsmakers had the team’s chances of being around in the postseason at 15 percent. Even if they do squeak into the playoffs, I don’t expect much this time around. There just seems to be too much wrong in the Windy City (which I won’t get into here).
Da Windy City
Question 2: First off, I’d like to say that I haven’t given up hope for this season. I think Chicago is a pretty good mix of youth and experience with the talent to “flip the switch” and go on a winning streak and secure a playoff position. The odds are against them, but there are 30 games left in the regular season. Lots can happen in two months.
As for possible sellers: I would like to shed the salary of Brent Seabrook, but I doubt that happens, hence I reckon the Blackhawks will stand pat. Let the youth develop and the team climb back to once again being the powerhouse franchise that ‘Hawks fans have been accustomed to for the better part of the last decade.
Question 1: There’s pretty much no reason to bring back Corey Crawford this season unless A) he’s 100 percent healthy and not at risk of immediately relapsing into another injury and B) the team is comfortably in or chasing a wild-card spot.
Those two things go together. It’s not one or the other. If Crow is not at 100 percent, he should not play at any point. And even if he gets back to what he and team doctors deem 100 percent, if the team is still five points behind with a bunch of teams in front 20 games from now, there’s still no point in sending him back on the ice.
Considering Crow is skating lately, however, I’m guessing the Blackhawks are going to get him into game action relatively soon. They obviously believe they can still contend for a playoff spot, and while that’s not wrong, they should not kid themselves. They’re not the eighth-seeded Nashville Predators from last season.
The Blackhawks need to protect both their athlete and their investment. Of course the guy is going to want to get back on the ice as soon as possible, but there are points in time where that just isn’t feasible. This is probably one of them.
Question 2: We’ve heard the thinking behind Michal Kempny and Erik Gustafsson suiting up more of late (though Kempny was scratched in the most-recent game) is because the Blackhawks are trying to shop them at the deadline. And that makes some sense; neither guy projects to fit into the Blackhawks’ long-term plans, based on what we’ve seen recently.
However, I wouldn’t say either guy is the top trade chip for the Blackhawks. They should not be shopping any young guns the likes of Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, for starters. This isn’t a one-veteran-fixes-the-team situation. So let’s talk about Artem Anisimov.
Anisimov’s contract wouldn’t be the easiest to slide on to a contending team, but there could be some interest in him if the Blackhawks are willing to retain a bit of salary. What the Blackhawks can get for Anisimov may vary by the trade partner, but I think general manager Stan Bowman would like to rebuild his draft pick stockpile for the future, at the very least.
Anisimov only seems to play well when he’s around Patrick Kane, and having Anisimov as his center is not what’s best for Kane right now. Kane needs playmakers and a guy who can actually win faceoffs by his side. So where does Anisimov fit into the Blackhawks’ future plans? It would appear he doesn’t, so it’s worth seeing what you can get for him.