Latest Additions to Blackhawks Helping Recreate Winning Culture
By Tony Gianares
The Blackhawks have been held out of the playoffs since 2016-17, so recreating a winning culture has become a must. The latest additions to the roster and coaching staff have the team on the right track.
The offseason technically hasn’t started, but the Blackhawks have been busy. They recently hired a third assistant coach and it was a great move.
The newest addition to the coaching staff is Marc Crawford. Crawford was the Ottawa Senator’s interim head coach last season, but they decided to part ways.
Their loss is the Blackhawks’ gain. Crawford brings a ton of NHL coaching experience (18 years) to a young Blackhawks’ coaching staff. He won a Stanley Cup as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche during the 1995-96 season.
Former Blackhawks’ head coach, Joel Quenneville, was an assistant coach on Crawford’s staff during the 1995-96 season. It would have been interesting to see if the two could have recreated the magic here in Chicago, but now we’ll never know.
Roster Addition Recap
If the 2018-19 season proved anything, it proved that the Blackhawks lacked roster depth.
After the regular season concluded, StanBo & Co. added a few intriguing pieces to the mix. The first two new faces are prospects looking to prove themselves.
Mikael Hakkarainen and Tim Soderlund signed 3-year entry level contracts. They aren’t going to be superstars, but down the road, they will be able to provide some roster depth as potential bottom 6 players. They will likely start their professional careers in the AHL with the IceHogs.
In addition to the Hakkarainen and Soderlund signings, the Blackhawks also won the Anton Wedin sweepstakes. Wedin is a Swedish forward who projects to be a bottom 6 forward. At this point, it seems like he has a pretty solid shot of cracking the 2019-20 NHL roster.
Philipp Kurashev has also looked good this season with the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL). He had a couple of great IIHF tournaments with Team Switzerland, in both the World Junior Championship and Men’s World Championship.
Kurashev was an alternate captain for the Remparts and Team Switzerland.
I’m expecting Philipp Kurashev to be a fringe player this season, who will likely start off in Rockford and possibly get a call-up later in the season. In the future, he seems like he could become a 3rd line center.
The Blackhawks added a few promising players during the 2018-19 NHL season. One of those players is Dominik Kubalik, who had a breakout 2018-19 season in the NLA, with HC Ambrì-Piotta, and a fantastic 2019 IIHF Men’s World Championship tournament. Kubalik seems likely to make the 2019-20 NHL roster in a top 9 role.
Things to Watch For
Scott Powers of The Athletic recently reported that Blackhawks’ goalie prospect, Ivan Nalimov, has declined to sign a new KHL deal.
The Blackhawks haven’t officially signed Nalimov yet, but a deal could be coming in the next few weeks.
A logjam has now developed at the goalie position with the emergence of Kevin Lankinen. Nalimov might have his work cut out for him.
As for upcoming events, the NHL Draft takes place on June 21-22 and free agency officially begins on July 1st.
The Blackhawks will have their hands full, but as long as they hit on their draft picks and spend wisely in free agency this offseason, they’ll be sitting pretty heading into next season.