The Chicago Blackhawks are running out of time this season. The team’s last game is on May 10 and unless a playoff run is on their horizon they only have 13 more games to go.
The trade deadline was the biggest thing on everyone’s mind for a while. The Blackhawks were expected to make some moves, but none to the caliber that they eventually made. Chicago added some pretty big pieces the past week, and they did not give up much in return.
Personally, I was happy with the moves Stan Bowman made at the deadline and that content with the team is still here, but now I ask myself what is next?
This season is most likely going to end how fans expected, on the outside looking into the playoffs. As of now, Money Puck gives the Blackhawks a 9.4% chance of making the playoffs. Unless the Hawks beat those odds, the season will be done in less than a month.
The pieces the Hawks need are still here, and it is not like this was a lost year. Stan Bowman took a chance on three rookie goalies, and Kevin Lankinen has risen to the occasion. The Hawks needed to find young players that could fill out their lineup, and so many different pieces rose to the occasion. Most importantly, Alex DeBrincat turned things around after a bad season in 2019-20.
So it was a pretty good year for the Blackhawks, now what?
The Blackhawks are not in offseason mode right now, but that is what is next for the team. Figuring out what players on expiring deals to bring back, who to draft at the NHL Draft, and most importantly who the team loses in the expansion draft should be on the Hawks mind right now.
I am sure Stan Bowman is going to spend some time analyzing this season. When all things are said in done I am interested in looking at how the Hawks competed against teams that will be back in their division next season.
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The Hawks won a lot of games against Columbus and Detroit this season, but against teams like Nashville and Dallas, the Hawks have a record of 4-5-2 with a few more matchups to go against those two teams.
I do not know what next season is going to look like but I am assuming the divisions are back to normal next year. That would mean Chicago has to face off against St Louis, Colorado, Minnesota, Winnipeg, and Arizona. All of those teams are still at least in the hunt for the playoffs and arguable are better than the Hawks are on paper.
With where the Hawks are at in their rebuild realistically fans should be able to expect the team to be better next season. However, better might not mean making the playoffs. This season was unique, and we have to wait and see how Lankinen and the Hawks rookies respond to traveling more often and playing games against different opponents night in and night out instead of facing the same team in multiple games back to back.
Different players all season struggled. Ian Mitchell eventually had to be sent down just mainly because he wasn’t used to playing this many games throughout a year, and next year is not going to be easier for these guys.
So to conclude, the Hawks have 13 more games on the year, and for now, watching those games and cheering on a team that drastically outperformed where they were supposed to be at the beginning of the year is all fans can do. However, once the offseason begins, I think we can expect some more changes to the roster ahead of the 2021-22 season.