Player Development/Roster Strategy
The Blackhawks are by all accounts looking to build around Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach for the next few years up front. Toews and Kane are still there, but they are putting together a “core” of the future for the team, in the event that Kane and Toews leave after their contracts expire (together) in 2 seasons.
On the blue line, the contracts given to Jones and McCabe say that they are building around larger, mobile defensemen who are responsible in their own end first. The goal of the team is to become harder to play against, which they haven’t been for a few years.
Because of this shift in the core pieces of the team, and overall strategy as they transition away from the “Cup” years, that means that they need to plan their player development accordingly. If they don’t want smaller defensemen any more, they should be focusing their Player Development Personnel on improving their big D-men.
If they want gritty forwards with some skill, then that means players like Nylander no longer fit, and they should focus their attention on bigger, more versatile forwards in the system.
As far as their roster, they need to have a 2-3 year view of who they believe is going to make up their roster. Things are always fluid, but to give an example, let’s say they believe that Lukas Reichel is going to be their #3 C in 2022-2023. They would be looking at Dach and Toews as their top 2 Cs (presumably), so they need to make space on their roster for next season for that #3C spot. That may mean they need to develop a plan to:
- Letting a player walk in free agency that could still help you
- Trading away a player with value to open a slot on the roster
- Buying out a player like Tyler Johnson to open a spot
Not advocating for any of those moves per se, but just to illustrate what they would need to consider if they construct not only their short-term roster, but their long-term view of the roster as well.
Ok, so they set up their roster for the short and long-term. What’s left?