After having a better start to the season than what most thought it would be, the Blackhawks have come down to earth. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Afterall, this team is supposed to be seeing what the youth in our system can do. They should continue to draft and acquire new young talent accordingly. I believe this team has the ability to be better than what they are on paper, but I’m not sure that’s what we want in the long term.
Connor Bedard is turning out to be one of the best prospects that has been scouted in a long time. The best thing is, even if the Blackhawks miss out on him, there are other players in this talent heavy draft that could contribute. A player to put on your radar is Brayden Yager.
That is the endgame here. Building our team back up from the ground with good players that can grow into roles and stars. Now is the time to see what we have and what we want to keep around while the new players are coming up.
One player that I’m looking to see a lot of this season is Ian Mitchell. Mitchell will be 24 in January and is aging out of the prospect title and into the depth defenseman title. He’s had an opportunity to develop in Rockford and was the #1 defenseman for the Icehogs last year. Now is his time to play big minutes with the big club.
Caleb Jones has had ample opportunities to show who he can be. He’s had flashes of being a good defenseman, but at this point I think we’ve seen enough of him. If the Blackhawks really wanted to be creative they could move him to the wing. He skates with the puck well and is offensive minded. His shortcomings on the defensive side of the puck is what does him in.
Now is the time for Ian Mitchell to get those 2nd line d-man minutes. He seems to be patient with the puck, passes well, and is quick enough to defend the faster type of players. A pairing of him with Jake McCabe or Jared Tinordi would be a solid unit. This would give him a chance to play at the NHL level and learn more of the defensive side of the puck with a proven veteran.
Now is the time to give this kid some big minutes to learn. This is what they have been building him up to do and he’s gotten to the point where he’s earned it.
At this point, why not?