If you have been watching the preseason games or keeping up with the scores, the Chicago Blackhawks have been looking like the team they have been built to be, non-contenders. I don't like to be negative. I'd like to say "they have a chance" but with the way this team is built, the moves Davidson has made, and the next draft class expected to be stacked, it's almost in the Blackhawks' best interest to lose.
With offseason signings of Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou, they seemed like pieces meant to mentor the players. Not exactly take us into a new era of Blackhawk hockey. Being paired with Patrick Kane could increase their production and possibly get a GM to overpay for one of these players at the trade deadline.
With Lukas Reichel being sent down to Rockford, is that still the case? I think Reichel is a player who played well in Rockford and produced, but can he still develop there? Would he be better served playing in the NHL?
It will be one interesting season for the Chicago Blackhawks
If he is getting top 6 minutes then I would say yes. His skill set doesn't translate to a bottom 6 role and that wouldn't help his development. First line center minutes in Rockford, as well as power play time, is better for his development at this point
Let's take a look at a couple of other players that I think are similar:
Kirby Dach. Kirby had some hype being the #3 pick in his draft class. He was definitely rushed, faced many injuries, and didn't get an opportunity to develop into a player who could contribute consistently at the NHL level. At least not to this point.
Next is Adam Boqvist. Adam is another player who many can say was rushed, but I don't think even if he spent more time developing that he would be a better player. He's prone to making bad decisions, slow, undersized, and doesn't skate well with the puck.
That being said I think the theme for this season is going to be development. We have players moving up from Rockford and it's time that they get a spot on the club. One person that I think is time to play 82 games with the Blackhawks is Ian Mitchell.
He elevated his game last year in Rockford and improved on both sides of the ice. Unfortunately, he was injured in camp and is going to miss some time. When he gets back, I expect him to possibly play a couple of games in Rockford, then get moved up to the Blackhawks.
Another player to look out for is Alex Vlasic. Sitting at 6'6 he's a big boy and he plays that way too. Impressively, he skates very well for a guy of his size and uses his stick well. A bit of a surprise because Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin were the top 2 prospects for a while but Alex Vlasic and Alec Regula have been developing big time and Beaudin is somewhat of an afterthought at this point.
It looks like Davidson is looking to build this team back up starting with the blue line. Kevin Korchinksi, our top prospect drafted in this year's draft, played very well in the prospect showcase and played a lot of time with Alex Vlasic. Look for these two to play together in the future. Korchinski got sent down to his OHL team but I look to seeing him possibly play in Rockford as soon as next year.
Though it may be a rough year I think the ship is pointed in the right direction. Luke Richardson is leading this team from the front and giving them something to play for. The best part about now is being a part of something at the beginning. It's great to win cups, and go to parades, but you've got to start somewhere.
We've got some vets in Toews and Kane that know what it's like to start from the ground up and they can mentor younger players. How to be a professional on and off the ice. Now let's get behind this team because win or lose, they are still ours.