The Blackhawks ended the season the same way they started it, poorly. While predictable, the team’s inability to compete really revealed that there are holes to be filled in the roster. With the shortened season over for Chicago, what does the team need to turn things around?
Depending on which way the wind is blowing a cynical person might sneer at the Chicago Blackhawks 2020-21 record and say, “Everything, the team needs everything.” Bowman can’t go in there and blow it all up and start from scratch, nor should he. Chicago’s rebuild is already underway, officially. However, the fact remains, that the team needs help all over the lineup.
There were some standout performances this season. Alex DeBrincat in particular is a guy a team can build around. Mercifully, he plays for the Blackhawks. The team’s depth and supply of role players appear to be better than anyone had anticipated.
For 56 games, we saw what was in the cupboard, so to speak, but we also saw limitations. Chicago does not have the top-tier talent that will make the team truly competitive. Not yet, and Toews, Kane, and Keith are simply not going to carry this team. Figuring out the offseason is going to be quite a puzzle.
Perhaps most importantly, there is not a single guy in Chicago’s pool of prospects that projects to be a number one defenseman. The only person that might have the tools to be a top-pairing defenseman is Adam Boqvist. What’s more, Chicago will probably not be able to select a blueliner with the skills the team needs in the upcoming entry draft. Maybe, but it isn’t likely. Solving this hole in the lineup is actually going to be tough to sort out, but it isn’t the only one.
Kirby Dach probably will become the team’s number one center, but that’s a ways off and he lost almost a whole season to injury. After DeBrincat, Dach is probably Chicago’s top forward under 25-years-old. Lukas Reichel might be great, but he hasn’t played a single game in the NHL so no one knows for sure. The team needs to find a way to improve its top-6 in more substantive terms.
Then there’s the goalie situation. Kevin Lankinen should be the team’s number one, but not one goalie really was able to step up and prove definitively that the net is theirs. So much so that the possibility of bringing in a veteran to at least push the competition a little more plausible as the team moves forward.
There’s not one thing missing from the team, there are many. Granted, some of Chicago’s weaknesses are more severe than others, the team has a ways to go before it can be a true contender. There’s real NHL talent in the system right now, but not at the level Chicago needs. If they can isolate those players, to compliment the team’s depth, then Chicago will be right back in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.