The Blackhawks find themselves in a difficult situation...
As the season continues, the Blackhawks are in a peculiar situation.
While the Blackhawks have seen brighter days under the leadership of Derek King, their offense and special teams have been... Underwhelming at best. With that said, their level of play has been steadily improving, with their best game regarding 5v5 play coming in the 5-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This team has been struggling to score goals but managed to come up with three in a row to tie the game against the Leafs.
The team is no longer mentally fragile and has rediscovered the tenacity and mental willpower to come back from the holes they put themselves in. Despite the loss, it is still encouraging to see this team continue to fight back. The Blackhawks are slowly finding solutions to their problems, but the question still stands: Is it time to pull the plug on the season? Or should the Blackhawks hold out until the trade deadline?
Here is why this is a difficult situation for the front office...
There is a looming issue of the lack of game-changing talent in their prospect pool. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are not getting any younger. Add that to the fact that their prospect pool is quite void of potential top-six talent, this team may be in a serious need of a rebuild. Yes, Alex Debrincat is a star in the NHL who possesses the natural goal-scorer's touch, but after that there isn't much left. Lukas Reichel is the remaining talent in the Blackhawks' prospect pool and though he looks to be someone the Blackhawks can build off of, that's not exactly a "scary" young core to lead the way. Kirby Dach isn't producing or taking over the game as the Blackhawks hoped he would either, with lackluster faceoffs and a hesitation to shoot the puck. In order for the Blackhawks to be competitive sooner rather than later, it may be time to let go of their stars and focus on the future of the franchise rather than the present.
With that said, the Blackhawks invested too much into this season to turn back now and patience may be the only thing they need to turn this around.
Seth Jones is looking to be that defenseman that the Blackhawks need to build on for years to come. His point-production comes in every situation, and his dependability has greatly improved since the start of the season. He is a consistent minute-muncher for the Blackhawks, that elite two-way defenseman you need to win. Marc-Andre Fleury is stealing games for the team when they look to be out of it, playing at his Vezina Trophy-winning form. The defense as a whole is finally playing up to expectations (as expected after the dismissal of Sheldon Brookbank), but the offense needs to start to pick up.
The only looming issue on the season is the lack of offensive production. Everything else is falling into place and patience may be the only thing needed for the offense to finally start to produce at a dependable rate. Seeing as this looks to be the only issue for this team, I think that it is too soon to pull the plug and the Blackhawks should be patient and and re-evaluate their playoff chances before the trade deadline. Yes, they risk the chance of their players decreasing in trade value, but the chance of making the playoffs should be one that Kyle Davidson should risk taking.