The Blackhawks have another game tonight. They're staring their 6th straight loss dead in the face. The fan base is angry. Rightfully. The blame game from the internet has begun to intensify and apparently NOBODY is safe. Twitter takes look like this guy
Just indiscrimate fire and a lot of hate has found Debrincat and Strome right between the eyes. Quickly to the haters...
Look, there is no question that Debrincat is struggling this year. I don't know why that is exactly to be honest. It could be a slight nagging injury, it could be confidence, it could be coaching, or it could be all three. Some of it is pure luck. Last year, when Debrincat scored 41 goals as a 21 year-old, I am going to say that again for the dummies in the back who want him traded DEBRINCAT SCORED 41 GOALS AS A 21 YEAR-OLD, he shot 18.4%. That is RIDICULOUSLY high. Elite goal scorers typically shoot at a 13-15% range. Ovechkin, as a point of reference and the greatest goal scorer whoever lived(in my opinion adjusting for era blah blah blah) has a career shooting percentage of 12.7%. Obviously they're different players and Ovi scores differently and is a higher volume shooter, but the point is that 18% was never sustainable…for anyone. One thing that Debrincat can control, to a degree is his shot volume. He finished with 220 shots on goal last year and he will finish right around that number again this year even though he is apart of one the league's WORST power-plays. Some of Debrincat's struggles are a "correction" some of it is a regression. One thing that is for god damn certain is that he is a born goal-scorer. A disjointed, poorly run season doesn't change that fact. He works hard on and off the ice. He still generates offense. He competes. He goes to the net. Debrincat's overall game and effort isn't flawed. People who can't recognize that deserve to be on the banned list.
As for Dylan Strome…he is what he thought I was. When the Blackhawks traded for Strome I was happy because it meant that they didn't have to commit to Schmaltz long term and Strome seemed to be more of a cultural fit with the Blackhawks leadership in terms of how important hockey is to him and being a student of the game. I said that if Strome is your 2C then you're probably a good team. If he's your 3C then you're a GREAT team. He came in last year and was given a chance to play his natural position every day and he produced. Suddenly the biggest problem with Debrincat and Strome was how the Blackhawks would manage to sign both of them. This year he has been yo-yo'd to death. LW, RW, some center. Mostly bottom 6. Some power play time, but not always on the top unit. Healthy scratch. Ice-time and opportunities were taken away. And why? Because Stan Bowman had a new shiny toy in Kirby Dach.
I like Kirby Dach a lot. I believe that he will be a big part of the Hawks future. They Blackhawks brass has said that they're playing Dach at center because that is his position of the future. It might have been easier for Dach to break into the NHL on the wing, but in theory that would've stunted his development. Young player needed to go through the ups and downs and be give enough leash to learn. If that is true that is fine. It should also be true about Dylan Strome as well. He's a big body, play-making centermen who was a former 3rd overall pick. We still don't know how good Strome could be because he is not being given that same opportunity. He's had exactly ONE full NHL season before heading into this year. He too needs chances to grow and reach his potential since you know…he's only 22 years old now in his second full NHL season. He is a guy who has produced crazy numbers everywhere, including Chicago, and yet he's become seemingly an after thought and it pisses me off.
Remember when Joel got fired and we were fed lines about how special teams were a disaster and Joel's communication with players and especially young players weren't good enough? Well since then Jokiharju has been traded because in Jokiharju's words "the coach didn't like him" and meanwhile he's about 20 minutes per night and playing in all situations for Buffalo. Nylander, the highly skilled player who "needed a change of scenery" was handed every chance in the world in Chicago and he hasn't progressed AT ALL. Strome and Debrincat are having worse seasons in year 2 under Colliton. And worst of all, the players can see how things aren't based on merit. Certain guys like Gustafsson, Nylander, and Dach(this not an indictment on Dach just because he lumped in with the other two) get all the chances in the world while others get punished and benched and forced to play out of position. Strome is on a 4th line LW often while Carpenter and Kampf get more opportunities. Two solid players, but they're replacable in every way. They're not as important to the future of the organization as Strome is. That is a fact. Colliton is probably right when he says Strome has more to give. It's his job to get it out of him, but it would appear that the coaching, development, and communication aren't benefitting Strome.
If this is a "development year" as I am sure Stan is saying behind the scenes trying to save his job because the team is going to miss the playoffs again, then let it be a development year and let Strome grow into a bonafide top 6 center. Give him a chance to be the guy who had 51 points in 58 games in Chicago last year. End rant. Go Hawks.