Analysis

It’s Okay if the Chicago Blackhawks Aren’t Good This Season

By Roland Hacker
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 2: Barrett Hayton #27 of Canada celebrates teammate Ian Mitchell's #5 (not pictured) goal as Ville Heinola #34 of Finland skates past in Quarterfinal hockey action of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on January, 2, 2019 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 2: Barrett Hayton #27 of Canada celebrates teammate Ian Mitchell's #5 (not pictured) goal as Ville Heinola #34 of Finland skates past in Quarterfinal hockey action of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship on January, 2, 2019 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Blackhawks upgraded this offseason. They haven’t improved so far, but it’s okay.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been average so far this season, maybe even below average. The core of this team is on the decline and the new core needs to take over, as analyzed in depth here.

I thought Stan Bowman probably should’ve taken one more year retooling before trying to compete again, but he made some aggressive moves in an attempt to get back in the playoffs instead. Either way, it’s not the end of the world if the Blackhawks aren’t amazing this season, as help is on the way.

Defenseman Ian Mitchell could make his NHL debut at the end of this season or at the beginning of next season. This is almost certainly over-hyping Mitchell, but he’s putting up numbers similar to Cale Makar’s final NCAA season so far this season. Even if Mitchell isn’t the dynamic offensive force that Makar has to begin his NHL career, Mitchell should at least be able to help the ‘Hawks get out of their own zone more efficiently with his puck moving capabilities.

On the topic of high-profile defensemen, even if Adam Boqvist doesn’t stick in the NHL this season, he should definitely be ready next season. His offense is definitely NHL ready now, as seen here:

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Other blueliners, such as Nicolas Beaudin and Chad Krys, could even prove to be ready for a chance in the NHL. True be told, I don’t have high hopes for Krys — though, I’d love if he proved me wrong — but the rest seem very promising.

Coupling the arrival of Chicago’s next wave of defensemen with further progression from its young forwards like Alexander Nylander, Kirby Dach, and Dominik Kubalik, the Chicago Blackhawks should be much better next season. Strome and DeBrincat could even fall into that category, especially the former, who has already taken considerable steps since arriving in Chicago, but still has room to grow.

Furthermore, if this season does end in disaster, we could be looking another exciting top prospect in at the upcoming (and supposedly very deep) 2020 NHL Entry Draft, such as Alexis Lafreniere or Quinton Byfield.

Chicago can even add additional assets by unloading some veterans with reasonable cap hits at the deadline this season, such as Erik Gustafsson and Drake Caggiula.

To briefly summarize, the Chicago Blackhawks may not be great this season (though, it’s still early to give up on them), but that’s okay. They should return to their winning ways soon enough.

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