Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

What a Perfect Offseason Would Look Like for the Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Offseason

The Chicago Blackhawks have a lot to be proud of this past season. In the first year of their rebuilding process, they were in competition for a playoff spot. Not only that, but they proved that their veteran forwards can still compete with the younger superstars the league is developing. A championship team doesn’t build itself however, and the offseason is just around the corner. With some key restricted free agents, cap space to play with, and an expansion draft coming up, here is what a perfect offseason would look like for the Chicago Blackhawks.

A Perfect Offseason for the Chicago Blackhawks

Restricted Free Agents

Players to Re-Sign

The Chicago Blackhawks have six restricted free agents to deal with this offseason, and five of them are forwards. Pius Suter and Brandon Hagel should be no-brainers in re-signing for the Blackhawks. Hagel broke out as a middle-six scoring threat that can throw the body around. Those players, especially as young as Hagel, are a rarity in the NHL and are valuable for depth scoring. Suter was in Calder contention for a good chunk of the season, scoring 14 goals and 13 assists in his rookie season. The Swiss-born centre played top-line minutes down the stretch and adapted well to the North American game. Re-signing Suter would add another young and talented European player to the organization, as well as add a level of continuity between the season to help with team chemistry.

David Kampf had another great season in Chicago. He was on pace for his second-best season in terms of offensive production despite that not being the best part of his game. The 26-year-old centre played well in an increased role, playing a minute more each night than last season. He was a great asset to the penalty kill, was a pest in the defensive end, as well as providing a shutdown player in the bottom half of the lineup. Kampf has a role in Chicago and he plays it above and beyond expectations. Re-signing Kampf would be a wise decision for Chicago and a necessity to keep their depth on par.

RFAs to Forget About

There’s one restricted free agent that the Chicago Blackhawks has that could be let go this offseason without taking too big of a hit. Adam Gaudette was acquired as a trade deadline acquisition this season for Chicago. He played well in his seven-game stretch for Chicago. A goal and three assists in his short time in Chicago was the best offensive showing he had all season. Gaudette, a former fifth-found pick for the Vancouver Canucks, has a decent ceiling to his game. He plays a hard-nosed game with middle-six ice time and has been relatively good in that role. Unfortunately for him, there are other players in the Chicago system that are either younger, faster or more experienced that can do this just a little better. Flipping Gaudette for whatever he’s worth, whether it’s a low-round draft pick or a low-level prospect, would give Stan Bowman more options for the fall.

Alex Nylander is a weird case for the Blackhawks. He was out all season with an injury after playing his first proper NHL season. Coming off of a 65 game season where he scored at a 32 point pace, he was expected to continue to improve his totals. He got the chance to play top-line minutes a few times during the 2019-20 season. He might not be made to play that role yet, but he showed flashes of his scoring ability. A season away puts him at a huge disadvantage. The team showed that there are younger and faster players than Nylander that can do just as good of a job as he did. Some even better. Philipp Kurashev, for example, shows similar progression this season that Nylander had last year. The only difference? The latter is slightly younger with a more flexible style of play. Nylander could fit well in the lineup next year, but so did Kurashev, Vinnie Hinostroza, and a few other guys who played up in the NHL this year. Similar to Gaudette, Nylander’s value and ceiling could get him a nice draft pick in return.

What About the Defence?

As mentioned in the season takeaways article, Chicago’s blueliners performed well as individuals. However, in order for a team to be successful on the backend of the ice, they all need to play as a unit. Duncan Keith is showing signs of ageing, but keeping him will be necessary to mentor the younger guys that fans saw this past season. Similarly, keeping Connor Murphy is a no-brainer of a decision, as he is the team’s best shutdown defender.

Outside of those two, Stan Bowman needs to prioritize the development of Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, and Wyatt Kalynuk. That likely means losing Nikita Zadorov or Calvin de Haan. Both players are good assets to the top four. De Haan, however, is injury prone and slow on the backcheck. Similarly, Zadorov has proven to be a defensive liability despite being a big body on the blue line. The latter group has a ways to go, but with the guidance of Keith and Murphy, and under the right system, they can thrive next season.

Free Agency

Hinostroza is a free agent this summer and one that Bowman should lock up for at least another season. He played his best hockey in Chicago this season and looked better than he did when the team traded him to Arizona a few seasons ago. He’s a valued top nine winger and has 40 point potential in his game. That’s a great depth piece, and establishing solid depth will be important for year two of the re-build. Outside of him, there aren’t any free agents Chicago should target. Another top-four defenceman could help stabilize the blue line. However, it isn’t necessary with all the NHL-ready talent that fans saw rotate through the NHL this year.

Final Outlook

The lineup in October will be very similar to what fans saw towards the end of the season. Jonathan Toews will return to the lineup and instantly bolster the top six. The recent signing of Henrik Borgstrom will add another young, fast forward into the mix as well. There will be some shifting around of prospects, most likely. Players like Evan Barrat and Michal Teply could see some time in the NHL if they play well enough. All in all the team won’t be competing for a Stanley Cup next year, but they will show major signs of improvement for the second year of a rebuild.

Main Photo

Embed from Getty Images




More Posts

Send Us A Message