Last week was not kind to the Chicago Blackhawks; they lost three of four and gave up 16 goals in the process. (You can check that review here.) What at one time looked like a promising season has turned into a more realistic mediocre slog through a very difficult division.
The rebuild is truly on and the team is meeting those expectations with flying colors- sometimes exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking, but luckily for Hawks fans, this team plays with effort. So, the results this week:
Monday – Chicago 3 Florida 6
Thursday – Chicago 2 Tampa Bay 4
Saturday – Chicago 1 Tampa Bay 4
Dylan Strome Made HIs Return to The Chicago Blackhawks.
The start of the season has been a struggle for Dylan Strome. In the 19 games prior to his return on Thursday, Strome only had eight points. For the Blackhawks to have any measure of success without Toews and Dach, Strome needs to produce.
On Thursday, Strome had some serious jump to his game and tallied a goal for the ‘Hawks. He had four shots on goal and was over 50% on faceoff draws. Strome appeared to have some confidence to his game and looked determined to prove the naysayers wrong.
In what we have come to expect from Strome, he returned to form on Saturday. He was nearly invisible on the ice. He had no points and no shots on goal. This performance combined with his lackluster performance all year places him on the trade block at the deadline. Chicago can’t afford to spend $3,000,000 on Strome in his final year. Now is the time.
Time to Sell
The Chicago Blackhawks have committed to a rebuild. The flash in the pan effort that had the Blackhawks tenuously in the playoffs earlier this year has dimmed. Chicago has lost six of their last seven and are clearly not a playoff team.
As the trade deadline approaches, it’s time to decide who the Blackhawks can sell to get the most bang for next year’s buck. Mattias Janmark and Carl Soderberg will head that list. Both players are veterans and will definitely help a team heading into the playoffs with bottom-six needs.
It’s tempting to keep Janmark due to his age and potential to help this team; however, at deadline time, he should garner a lot of attention and demand a significant prospect. David Kamp is another player who should be considered.
He is a very solid third or fourth liner. He can help up the middle and does provide help at the dot, winning over 50% of his faceoffs. Finally, Dylan Strome should be considered here. He has not lived up to his potential but has enough upside that a playoff team may have some interest. Dealing him would also save the ‘Hawks $3,000,000 next year.
Goaltending Future in Question
The goaltender spot may not yet be settled. After a rough start, both Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban played well for a large stretch this season. However, both have started to slide. Lankinen has taken the net most this year, 21 games, and still seems to be the Blackhawks number one goalie.
He shows a lot of promise, so Blackhawks management will be patient, but his last four games are concerning. In those four games, Lankinen gave up 16 goals. In a similar four game stretch, Subban gave up 18 goals.
Every goalie goes through bad stretches, but the best goalies in the league take their teams on their shoulders in difficult times. Watching the game on Saturday was a great example. At one point in the second period, the Blackhawks had 26 shots on goal to Tampa Bay’s 15, and yet the score was 4-0 Tampa Bay. Andre Vasileskiy is on another level and shows the desperate need for the ‘Hawks to sign a free agent after the season or potentially make a trade.
Reality and Hope
Another week goes by and the Blackhawks have clearly taken another step back in terms of improvement. However, the deficits are getting more clear and moves for next year are more certain.
So, ‘Hawks fans need to approach this season as a trial for the future. Right now, the pieces aren’t there, but the plan to address them should be. It’s now up to Stan Bowman to make the right moves to put Chicago back in a place to compete next year and beyond.
And, hey, there is some good news this week. Kirby Dach is edging closer to returning. His injury is improving and he is on the ice. However, the Blackhawks need to be careful not to rush him in back and risk further injury when there is nothing at stake this year.
Want your voice heard? Join the Blackhawk Up team!
Finally, If that weren’t enough good news for you, the Blackhawks do get to play the Predators, BlueJackets, and Redwings a few more times this year. So, things could be worse!