The Chicago Blackhawks made some pretty big moves the past few days, are they a contender and what does their lineup look like for next season?
The Chicago Blackhawks roster looks a lot better than last season. Stan Bowman was not kidding when he said the group was going through a retool last season. They were not going to tear down the team completely, rather do their best to acquire assets and make them better for a few seasons down the road.
Well, now it seems like we are starting to see what that next group could look like. With a defense that looks better than ever before and a forward group that could surprise some people, this Hawks roster could really do some damage this season.
Before we talk about the team’s chances let’s talk about the lineup. Here is what the Blackhawks lineup could look like next season if they are done making trades:
Alex DeBrincat – Kirby Dach – Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik – Jonathan Toews – Henrik Borgström
Brandon Hagel – Tyler Johnson – Dylan Strome
Jujhar Khaira – Adam Gaudette – Philipp Kurashev
Calvin de Haan/Riley Stillman – Seth Jones
Jake McCabe – Connor Murphy
Caleb Jones – Wyatt Kalnuk
* Players in italic text did not play with the team last season – either not on the roster or injured.
This is a pretty good group right here. I put de Haan and Stillman together on the top line because right now I still think that de Haan gets traded. If that is the case then Stillman takes the spot to play with Jones. If he doesn’t then de Haan would be a great partner for Jones should he be healthy, while Stillman would then serve as that seventh defenseman on the roster.
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The forward grouping is instantly better. The team has Alex Nylander and Ryan Carpenter scratched with this exercise while Mike Hardman and MacKenzie Entwistle could be utilized should someone get injured throughout the season. Overall a really good group.
The goalies are also a strength in this exercise. Fleury would not have to play every game as a true number one goalie as Lankinen is a pretty good 1B option. Come playoff time though it would obviously be the Vezina trophy winners net. Keep in mind though Fleury being with the team is still up in the air.
There is still an opportunity for the team to make a move here and there. I think they would still be interested in trading Strome or de Haan, two guys that probably won’t be getting extensions this coming offseason. And with those trades, I think the team would be targeting some draft picks or a goalie if Fleury decides to walk away from the team and retire.
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So the lineup I have shown above has to be a team that can make the postseason right? The NHL is back to the full 82 game schedule, and the central division is not the powerhouse it once was. The competitive team in the division that should steamroll most opponents will be the Colorado Avalanche. After that, things are somewhat up for grabs. The Wild, Jets, Blues, Stars, Predators, and Blackhawks will all be chasing one of those final few spots in the division. The only true team that will probably be out of it would be the Coyotes.
On paper, the Blackhawks look just as good as some of the other teams in the division and I am excited to see how things play out.