Chicago Blackhawks Morning Links: Offseason Mailbag Responses

This morning, Blackhawk Up answers some of your Twitter questions about the Chicago Blackhawks’ blue line, the NHL draft and more.

Happy Tuesday, Chicago Blackhawks fans!  We wanted to take this time to reach out and field some questions you may have about the current state of the Blackhawks.

The team is in a transition year and there are plenty of questions going into the 2018-19 season.  We had some really good ones so we hope you enjoy our responses.  Feel free to give your two cents in the comments below.

Blackhawk Up offseason mailbag

@hellchef12 – What are we going to do about our aging defensemen?

Although Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith had less-than-stellar seasons, there is a lot that is misconstrued about both players.

Yes, Seabrook is little overpaid, but his numbers were just a little down from last year.  From the naked eye, he has also lost a step, but he adjusted his game nicely in the second half of the season.  His leadership and experience are underrated qualities, but the overall performance of the defensive unit and goaltending has fallen on his shoulders.

Fans will probably have to wait until the 2021-22 season for a compliance buyout to get his contract off the books because it is unmovable.

@Durden_SoapCo – Do you think Duncan Keith can rebound next season?

As for Keith, even at age 34 he’s soaking up a ton of minutes.  He did have a down season points wise, but it doesn’t mean he can’t have a comeback season next year.

He’s in great shape, he plays in all of the top scoring situations, and seemed to take this losing season personally.  He has a lot of miles left in him, so I expect him to put 2017-18 behind him.

Never in our wildest dreams did Blackhawks fans ever see two-time Norris Trophy winner Keith have a plus/minus of minus-29 in a season, but it happened.  But with a healthy Corey Crawford, I wouldn’t expect that again.

@hellohe14445296 – What the $&@^ are we going to do in goal next season?

This is a great question.  The mystery injury that kept Crawford off the ice since December 23rd has a lot of people wondering if it was concussion related or something else.  The Blackhawks will never reveal the true injury, but let’s hope it is something that isn’t going to end Crow’s career.  We all took him for grated and found out what it’s like to go through a season without a great goaltender.  It wasn’t fun.

As for the backup role, most people believe the ‘Hawks will look to sign a free agent with some experience.  We saw what the Blackhawks had in Anton Forsberg, J.F. Berube, Jeff Glass and some of Collin Delia, and it looks like none are ready for more than 20 or so (if that) games.

Delia will likely end up in Rockford, and who knows what will happen with the other guys.  It will come down to training camp, but there’s no question the ‘Hawks need some reinforcements if Crow continues to have health issues.

@ChisoxDekalb – Who will the Blackhawks pick if they draft seventh overall?

The good news for the Blackhawks is the first round runs deep with quality defensemen.  It’s pretty much slotted they will see Rasmus Dahlin go first overall, then some combination of Andre Svechnikov, Filip Zadina and Brady Tkachuk in the 2-4 spots.

With only two teams ahead of the ‘Hawks, they should have a few quality players to pick from.  I believe defensemen like Quinn Hughes, Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson will be some of the players still there at seven, but the ‘Hawks will take the best player available.

That could be forward Oliver Wahlstrom as well.  I don’t believe there is a situation where the ‘Hawks trade up unless Tkachuk falls to 5 or 6, but they could trade down a few spots to possibly get back into the second round.

@arcarew13 – Who will the Blackhawks draft with their first-round draft picks?

The Blackhawks also have the Predators’ first-round selection from the Ryan Hartman deal.  We wrote in an post released earlier this year that a good pick may be Blake McLaughlin, center for the Chicago Steel.  He is committed to the University of Minnesota, and the ‘Hawks seem to love college-bound guys.  He’s a strong two-way forward who could help the ‘Hawks up the middle in the future.

@RedEvrything – Who will the Blackhawks draft if they have the third overall pick, if Dahlin and Svechnikov are off the board?

First of all, if the Blackhawks win any lottery pick, it will be huge for their retool.  This would be a tough decision because Zadina and Tkachuk could both be impact players right away.

I believe the ‘Hawks would select Tkachuk because they don’t have that kind of power forward right now.  If you add a 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward to the Blackhawks’ powerplay to cause some disruption, they would be ranked a lot higher than 29th in the league.

@StrateWhiteMail –  Blackhawks have signed a couple defensive prospects recently (Blake Hillman and Dennis Gilbert) and are hopefully on the way to signing Henri Jokiharju.  How many of these players can play top four minutes?

The Blackhawks are really putting a focus on developing young defensemen at the minor league level.  I don’t believe Hillman or Gilbert will be ready to jump in right away without a full season in the AHL, but people seem to think Jokiharju will be ready.

His tape at the World Juniors followed by a great season in the WHL gives reason that he’s ready for bigger things; it just depends on how much bigger.  To answer your question, I personally don’t believe the ‘Hawks can afford to add another young defensemen to their already “green” defensive core.

But as Rockford continues to add more talent to its roster, competition will increase and you will see the emergence of a couple of these guys as NHL players.  We just have to “trust the process.”

@BeaKinde – The last two summers, the Blackhawks have traded fan favorites Andrew Shaw and Artemi Panarin.  Who do you believe could be next?

There will definitely be some trades this offseason, but I’m not sure if any will involve fan favorites.  It’s evident that guys like Artem Anisimov and Connor Murphy may not fit in with the ‘Hawks’ future plans, but I don’t think anybody is going to cry over their contracts being moved.

There has been whispers Brandon Saad could be dealt given he doesn’t have a NMC, but that’s hard to buy in to.  His stock is at a low, and he is due for a bounceback season.

@SomeHawksFan – With Schmaltz emerging as Kane’s new center, do you think Anisimov has a place anymore in Chicago?  What are some potential trades you would like to see if he doesn’t?

It’s really a shame that Anisimov may have to be moved this summer to make room for younger players.  It’s true that his faceoff percentage has been less than 50, but he’s a lifetime 45 percent guy, so general manager Stan Bowman knew what he was getting.  But Anisimov is also still a 6-4 center who feeds off rebounds in front of the net.  On any other team he would be a great addition, but the Blackhawks have little flexibility when you don’t produce.

If the ‘Hawks do end up trading him, I’d like for them to get more draft picks and possibly get some more young players.  The goal is to continue to free up cap space to sign young Blackhawks, so taking back any more salary wouldn’t be worth it.  It’s just hard to imagine dealing Anisimov knowing that the ‘Hawks don’t have much behind Jonathan Toews after that.

@JennyP7214 – Why do people think the window is closing or has been shut for the Blackhawks?

The Blackhawks’ success the last decade has been from star players, but also the dependable blue line.  They got a lot of valuable miles from Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya on very affordable deals.

So to answer your question, it’s hard to imagine the Blackhawks competing for another Stanley Cup without their back end figured out.  That and the ‘Hawks’ top players like Saad, Toews and Keith aren’t pulling their weight in terms on production.

The 2017-18 season was an absolute trainwreck for everybody, but it was also an eye-opener that the ‘Hawks can’t get by on talent alone anymore.

@TankforDahlin – Will the Blackhawks be back in the playoffs in the next three years?

It’s hard to imagine Toews and Kane sitting at home for the playoffs for four years in a row.  I think Gary Bettman would have an aneurysm.

Yes, I believe the Blackhawks will be back in the playoffs if not next year then the following.  Everybody talks about how quickly Boston turned around its franchise by bringing in a handful of young talent, but the Bruins also had to develop them.

With Jeremy Colliton in Rockford doing a fine job getting his guys to the next level and having team success at the AHL level, it’s possible the Blackhawks could get back to playoff hockey sooner rather than later.

Thanks for all the great questions!

-Blackhawk Up

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