The Chicago Blackhawks find themselves out of their rebuild a year after announcing it. The fans had been anticipating their rebuild for years as their lack of playoff success after their 2015 cup victory signaled it. However, I do not think people expected the rebuild to be over in a year. From the looks of it, that seems to be the case.
After dealing Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers last month, the rebuild seemed to be taking shape after acquiring Caleb Jones and a 3rd round pick. However, Seth Jones, Caleb’s brother, made shockwaves throughout the hockey world when he announced he was not going to re-sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Hawks instantly became a favorite due to their cap space, assets, need for a number one defenseman, and having his brother.
When the Jones’ trade on draft day took place, that signaled the end of the Hawks rebuild. Now, Stan Bowman needed to find a few complimentary pieces to give his group a chance at the playoffs. Then Bowman went out and added the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights. This move gives the Hawks a true number one goaltender while allowing goaltender Kevin Lankinen a chance to learn from Fleury this season.
The Blackhawks will have a few minor moves the rest of the offseason. First, the two players that I believe are locks to be traded are Calvin de Haan and Malcolm Subban. De Haan is now expendable due to the McCabe signing as the Hawks have a plethora of young defensemen they could play instead of #44. Also, the Hawks need to clear some cap space with the Fleury trade. Subban becomes expendable because the Fleury trade moves him to number three on the depth chart. With Delia already in the minors, it seems inevitable that the Hawks will move on from Subban.
Upfront, the Blackhawks have a trade or two to make as they have too many forwards, currently. The two forwards that make the most sense to be traded is either Dylan Strome or Alex Nylander. Trading Strome would clear some cap space while allowing the Hawks to pick up a good asset in return. In my opinion, he has fallen out of favor and has moved down the depth chart with other young players stepping up. With Nylander, he missed all of last season due to injury, and again, I believe he has fallen out of favor due to other acquisitions. Nylander should be able to land a mid-round pick should the Hawks look to move him.
This has easily been one of the Blackhawks’ busiest and most interesting offseason’s over the last decade. With the Hawks moving on from legend Duncan Keith and bringing in stars Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury, no one really expected them to turn into playoff hopefuls this fast. Look for the Hawks big moves to be over and keep an eye on de Haan, Subban, Strome and Nylander the rest of the offseason where we will see how things unfold before camp starts up in September.