Chicago Blackhawks Need Kids to Grow Up Quickly
By Stephen Yatsushiro
The Evolution of the Roster
To better understand how the first Stanley Cup championship team of 2010 has evolved over the years, I made a graph of core players spread out over age groups. I created three groups based on age and divided into under 25, between 25 and 29 and finally 30 or older.
Within each age group, I classified players as Core or Support players. Here’s how it broke down:
Year <25 25 -29 30+
2010 C-6, S-6 C-3, S-5 C-2, S-4
2013 C-2, S-7 C-4, S-5 C-3, S-5
2015 C-1, S-6 C-5, S-4 C-5, S-4
2018 C-0, S-9 C-1, S-6 C-6, S-2
The trends are pretty clear. The Core has steadily moved into the 30-and-over group while no clear-cut Core players have emerged from the under-25 group. The accepted belief is that hockey players peak at age 29. Let’s take a look at the young group of players and see if they are on a good trajectory toward a high peak.
Who’s ready for prime time?
Here’s the current under-25 group:
Player Pos Age Exp Summary Salary Draft
Henri Jokiharju D 19 R 0 G, 9 A, 9 P $925,000 2017 CHI 1st (29)
Alexandre Fortin LW 21 R 2 G, 2 A, 4 P $710,000
Alex Debrincat LW 21 1 9 G, 7 A, 16 P $792,500 2016 CHI 2nd (39)
Nick Schmaltz C 22 2 2 G, 6 A, 8 P $925,000 2014 CHI 1st (20)
Gustav Forsling D 22 2 0 G, 1 A, 1 P $925,000 2014 VAN 5th (126)
Dominik Kahun C 23 R 1 G, 7 A, 8 P $925,000
John Hayden RW 23 2 1 G, 0 A, 1 P $700,000 2013 CHI 3rd (74)
David Kampf C 24 1 2 G, 2 A, 4 P $925,000
Luke Johnson C 24 R 0 G, 1 A, 1 P $742,500 2013 CHI 5th (134)
Nick Schmaltz has been an enigma so far. He has shown flashes of brilliance, yet at times looks like he just wants to drift to the perimeter. Many have hailed him as the team’s future top-line center. To get there, he needs to get over his allergy to shooting the puck.
At the same time, fans need to remember that he is still 22 years old. Many were ready to give up on 22 year old Teuvo Teravainen, who similarly got pushed off the puck and preferred passing to shooting. He’s now looking like the player he was expected to be, but on the Carolina Hurricanes.
Out of this group, we could debate whether Alex DeBrincat should be included as a core player. I didn’t, since his game is still developing. While he is without a doubt an offensive threat, he remains a liability when it comes to committing turnovers. For the sake of argument, even if we add him as a core player, the current “under-25” group still sits at C-1, S-7.
Henri Jokiharju could be given core consideration as well. But even new head coach Jeremy Colliton has seen some holes in this rookie’s game, and has dropped him down from the first defensive pairing with Duncan Keith.
The rest of the group shows promise, but will need proper mentoring.