Here is how Vegas views the Central Division
St. Louis: 96.5
For the layperson that is 6th place and firmly out of the playoffs. Now, I wrote a blog last week saying that I think the Blackhawks are going to be a playoff team. And yet…I think this projection by the math nerds in Vegas who are basically always dead on balls accurate is pretty good. The only team I think is going to be under this estimate is Winnipeg. They still need to sign both Conner and Laine to substantial RFA deals and those deals are the reason why they had to punt on Tyler Myers and ship Trouba the Rangers for next to nothing. That’s 50% of their top 4 on defense without any real solution in sight because Pionk and Beaulieu ain’t it.
That leaves the Blackhawks in a BATTLE for that last wild card spot with the Jets, Arizona, and Vancouver.
Not a great spot to be if your job is on the line if you don’t make the playoffs and Stan’s job absolutely should be on the line.
Which brings me to my final point…if I were Stan Bowman I would trade Gustafsson and have Kirby Dach make the team. Maybe they don’t lose anything substantial by having them on the team. Maybe they even get a little bit better because those two guys are so talented. Either way…IF you put two 18 year-olds on your opening night roster and you don’t end up making the playoffs you can look John McDonough in his big dumb face and convince him that this was a development year. You can sell that it was young team but you took tremendous steps towards the ultimate goal of winning a Cup. Now, when the Blackhawks are trying to squeeze out one more ring from Toews and Kane at age 32 they won’t be breaking in two rookies. Those guys will be bonafide pros after going through the bumps and bruises in 2019-20. That’s what I would do if I were Stan. AND…you know what you’ll get from Gustafsson or whoever would replace Dach in the lineup on a nightly basis. Dach and Boqvist are lottery tickets. They might be dynamic. They could very well be better than their theoretical replacements. They could be the tickets back to the playoffs. Something to think about as we inch closer to the season. Buy some shirts