Pre-Draft: How Good Can The Blackhawks Be In 2020-21?
By Ryan Fedrau
After earning a playoff spot in the NHL bubble, the Chicago Blackhawks will look to earn one again in 2020-21. Before the draft, I ask the question, how good can this team be in 2021?
The Chicago Blackhawks shocked many in the hockey world, as experts and fans alike didn’t expect them to get past Edmonton. After beating the Oilers in 4-games, they fell down 3-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights. They’d win 1-game in the series and be out of the playoffs in 5-games.
How does this team rebound this upcoming season? It starts by putting the right players around this team. There was a problem with goaltending and defense in the playoffs, that’s no question. Corey Crawford came up big in the big moments, but he did struggle, mostly when he was left out to dry, but he gave up some soft goals.
Crawford got better as the playoffs went on, but he is getting older. At this moment in time, Crawford has yet to re-sign with the team. There are rumors that he didn’t like the one-year, $3,500,000 offer the Hawks were rumored to give him. If he asks for more, chances are, Crawford is gone.
On defense, Adam Boqvist has to step it up next season. He showed that he can be a great player, but it was only his rookie season. He is a young player, it’s hard to knock him so early in his career for his struggles. If he’s going to play in the NHL though, he has to get better. He will with time, but if this team is going to be a playoff team, Boqvist, along with the other defensemen have to step it up for whoever is in the net.
Chicago is either losing Olli Maatta, Zack Smith, and/or Brandon Saad. They’ll have to fill that role. They could look to find a cheaper option in free agency, hope the player they draft at 17 can play right away, or bring up someone from Rockford. Their best bet is to lose Maatta and Smith. Smith is expendable and Maatta is taking up space for Ian Mitchell and Brent Seabrook. Seabrook won’t play the role he used to, but he will get playing time, as he is being paid the most out of any the defensemen on the roster.
Looking at the roster right now, if they improve, they’ll be a wildcard team. It’s not likely they’ll crack the Top 3 in a loaded Central Divison. You’ve got Dallas in the Stanley Cup right now, St. Louis will be back, along with a great Colorado team. Winnipeg could be in the Top 3-4 too.
My Pick: The Blackhawks will hit 92-points and be one of the wildcard teams in 2020-21. We’ll see what happens in the draft, free agency, and of course which goalie starts next season.