Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Front Office, Farm System Worries No Surprise

By Colin Likas
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Adam Boqvist puts on a Chicago Blackhawks jersey onstage after being selected eighth overall by the Chicago Blackhawks during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Adam Boqvist puts on a Chicago Blackhawks jersey onstage after being selected eighth overall by the Chicago Blackhawks during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Two polls that made the Twitter rounds Thursday do not put the Chicago Blackhawks in a positive light, but neither of the results is a surprise

It’s hard to imagine the majority of Chicago Blackhawks fans having confidence in some key aspects of the organization at this time. Among those, fans have to be concerned with front-office wheelings and dealings, as well as the state of the Blackhawks’ farm system.

Well, good news for those who were thinking about this: Two separate polls made the Twitter rounds Thursday that confirmed this is exactly the case.

Front office rankings

Let’s turn to The Athletic for the first survey, which discusses each NHL front office. Thankfully, the Blackhawks did not rank below the Ottawa Senators, who have had a miserable offseason. But they’re not doing so much better as far as the number in front of their name, as the Blackhawks check in at No. 25.

This survey took both public and fan opinion about roster building, cap management, drafting/development, trading, free agency and team vision and turned it into a rating system. The Blackhawks clearly aren’t doing too well with their front office happenings in the minds of either their fans or the general hockey public.

Stan Bowman and pals have made some interesting decisions in recent years, and more of them are going wrong than right. There have been positives, such as the drafting and quick promotion of Alex DeBrincat. But things like the Brent Seabrook contract, the Phillip Danault trade and various retreads of old Blackhawks have to dent fan confidence.

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This most recent offseason, at least to date, hasn’t assuaged many concerns the fans have been voicing, either. Camp performances such as that of Adam Boqvist have to help, but it’s more of a small step versus the larger dings of signing Chris Kunitz and Brandon Manning as actual contributors.

Ultimately, however, this poll matters far less than the other one I’ll discuss. A front office can go from hated to revered in a couple years’ time, and vice versa. It’s all about the championships, at the end of the day.

Farm system rankings

This poll is far more important than the front office one, in my mind. When you’re ranking actual players — guys who can make an impact or leave the stench of a bust — you’re getting into some critical territory for deciding whether a team is on the rise or on the downslope.

The Blackhawks, unfortunately, don’t rank well in this poll either. They slot in at No. 23, with Sporting News picking just six of the team’s top-10 prospects from the crop of guys acquired over the last two years.

The names are all familiar to Blackhawks fans, and as such, it shouldn’t really be a surprise. Fans have been hyped about the possibility of Henri Jokiharju starting in the NHL this season, while guys like Dylan Sikura and Ian Mitchell also have much-discussed upside. But things are either barren or too far off to tell in various other areas of the farm system.

Again, I don’t think this ranking is all that surprising. Also, as with the front office poll, it’s something that can change quickly. However, to change this one more abruptly, it’ll likely require the team to go into sell mode in the immediate future. That doesn’t mean championships are on the horizon. (Of course, that can improve fans’ thoughts about the front office’s vision.)

Chicago’s defensive prospects are improving after the team siphoned off many of those in the early 2010s. The forward corps is mostly at the NHL level already, while the Blackhawks have very little in the way of promising goaltending depth.

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As a Blackhawks fan, both of these polls offer something to be frustrated by. However, they’re not the end all be all. Big-four professional sports teams can turn things around quickly with a solid plan and strong decision-making. The Blackhawks just need that to happen soon, along with a little luck in the scouting department.

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