The Chicago Blackhawks have played 32 games, having won thier last matchup against Columbus. They go into the Christmas break with an 8-20-4 (20pts, .313 pt %) mark which is last in all major categories.
So where will the Blackhawks end the year? If you do a simple projection of the points then they will end up with 51 points. Which if you look at the years prior (MTL - 55pts, OTT - 64pts, BUF - 62pts) then you could comfortably say that the 22-23 Blackhawks will finish in last place.
However, this isn't going to be a normal finish to the season. The 2023 class of prospects is exceptional. I believe that once February comes along that many teams in the middle or late lottery will begin to sell cheaper than most seasons.
The reason for this is the chance to be in a top 10 that could be an all-time great group of players. The headliners: Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, Matvei Michkov, and Will Smith will be joined by a host of future top 6 forwards.
So where will this lead the Hawks? Will they be worse? Maybe. What I do know is that GM Kyle Davidson will be aggressive. It's been in his nature to sell high so he can maximize any return (Hagel, DeBrincat, Dach) and has been steadfast on not selling low (De Haan, Strome, Kubalik) so that he doesn't show other GMs that he is desperate. This is a good precedent to set as a young GM.
If you look at the Blackhawks roster you can say that no one is untouchable, but obviously there are players with full no movement clauses built in (Kane, Toews, and S. Jones). Outside of those 3 players, I feel Max Domi and Connor Murphy hold the most value. Would they command a late 1st from a contender? Maybe not yet, but I wouldn't put it past a desperate franchise (Toronto) looking for that one final piece to win a Stanley Cup.
If you look at the Blackhawks schedule there are some games in which a 2pt victory seems likely: CBJ, SJS x 2, AZ x 3, PHI x 2, ANA, OTT, and VAN are some of the games I'm going to expect a Chicago victory. That would be 22 more points right there. Then there are 8-10 more matchups where I'd expect us to get a point from. If you average all of these out that would make the 51 points we are currently on pace for.
Certainly you could argue that our team will become worse once we start subtracting some starters, however so will the other teams that I've listed. At the end of the year I expect our Chicago Blackhawks to end up with somewhere between 51-56 points and secure a top 4 selection. I'm going to be watching the Arizona (State University) Coyotes as the only other team that could possibly end the year with less points.
With 3 matchups remaining between Arizona and Chicago, it may very well end up being the 3 most important games of the season... maybe the 3 most important games for both franchises in 20 years.