With the recent departures of Corey Crawford, Brandon Saad, and Olli Maatta, the Chicago Blackhawks notified fans that they are preparing to rebuild. But, is that really the case?
The forward prospects in the pipeline look to be very promising, with Evan Barratt, Pius Suter, Brandon Hagel, Matej Chalupa, Phillip Kurashev, plus others, waiting for their turn. And 2020 first-rounder Lukas Reichel is one to two years away from his potential debut. With the signings of Mattias Janmark and Lucas Wallmark to their bottom-six, are the ‘Hawks really rebuilders?
Same with the defense. With Duncan Keith still a quality defender, Adam Boqvist starting to come into his own, the acquisition of Nikita Zadorov, and established NHL defenders in Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy, are the Hawks really a rebuilding team?
Not to mention the possible roster addition in long-awaited defense prospect Ian Mitchell and possibly Wyatt Kalynuk, Alec Regula, Nicolas Beaudin, and starting line-up defenseman prospect Lucas Carlsson coming back, the defense also looks very promising.
What I didn’t like in the 2019-20 season is:
- Defense from the forwards
- Missed assignments from the defense
- A lacking system
- Lack of PHYSICALITY
- Questionable line-up choices
I think the Hawks covered 1 and 4 perfectly this offseason with their recent acquisitions as Janmark and Wallmark are both defensive forwards who can hold their own in the defensive zone. Janmark also adds to their offense, with glimpses of providing some offense to the bottom six.
I don’t have to say much about Zadorov, who is a human wrecking ball on skates (just look up his highlights. He’s a beast). Zadorov is also a great second or third-pairing defenseman. Did we overpay for the guy? Most likely yes. But we can’t change that now. Just look forward to watching Zadorov layout Blues superstars Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas next season.
The system and lines only change with Jeremy Colliton, and the missed assignments are all on the shoulders of Sheldon Brookbank, the assistant coach in charge. Not only were the Blackhawks underwhelming offensively, but the opponent would never leave the ice thinking they just played a hockey game. They usually left unscathed from the lack of hitting this team brings every night.
The man to man defense system Colliton brings has to change as well with missed assignments going uncovered multiple times a game. A zone would work a lot better for this team as someone will be in a certain area of the ice. A man defense system just hasn’t worked in the last two years, so I have no reason to think it will work this year. I will cover more on a potential zone defense on a different post.