Welcome back to the mailbag. It's been a while. We've covered the Blackhawks in broad strokes on Redline Radio and Spittin Chiclets, but YOU(you) and I haven't gotten into the nitty gritty about what the changes mean and what the Blackhawks could look like when we are finally able to have hockey again. This is as good of a time as any to get after it. Let's begin
Let's start at the top. I think, nay, I know the Blackhawks want to win. I am not sure if they're ever going to be a top contender with this group, but the Wirtz Family wants the Blackhawks in the playoffs. The current state of the Hawks is NOT acceptable by Wirtz standards, hence the change. Hence potentially more changes coming.
I don't think, however, that this means that Toews, Kane, and Keith will be gone. If you're the new head of the organization, be that Danny Wirtz or anyone else, do you really want your first order of business to trade away the three best and most important players in the history of the organization. Three guys who can all still play and three guys who actually have decent looking contract now as time has gone on. You get rid of those players and you're worse off than you were before, and it doesn't matter what collection of picks and prospects you get in return for them. You're worse and you alienated your fans along the way. Not a great way to spend your new found political capital.
I never understood the desire to press the self-destruct button on the Toews and Kane era. Whenever those guys are gone there is going to be pain and suffering. Trading them only accelerates the timeline and it doesn't guarantee better days ahead. The Blackhawks picked 3rd in 2004 and got Cam Barker. They picked 3rd in 2006 and got Jonathan Toews. Having high picks doesn't guarantee anything. The Hawks will be picking there again and I'd rather wait for father time to dictate the rebuild than forcing out legends who are still good enough to be the best players on a contender if a new head of hockey ops can surround them with enough talent.
Elite is hard to define. To me that is either 90+ point dominant offensive center or a point per game guy who is a complete 200ft player like a Toews, Bergeron, Kopitar, etc. I am not sure it's fair to ever expect Dach to get to that level. I am not sure that we have seen enough. I am bullish on him overall. I think he showed enough flashes to make you feel like he can be a top 6 center. Just not sure if he is the face of a franchise, put the team on his back, type of guy. We'll see. I love the idea of going with Toews-Dach-Strome up the middle for the next couple years.
This is a moving target. Right now the Blackhawks have lots of issues. Obviously defense has been a problem, but I think the Hawks are moving in the right direction there. Keith is still a top 4 guy, I would like them to bring back deHaan, then mix in Boqvist, Mitchell, and then Murphy as well. I think that has potential be a good top 5 and they need to find a 6th. Who that is, I have no idea, but that group on paper has potential to be solid and modern.
The forward group is also now, bad. Unfortunately. They have plenty of nice players who are slotted a line or two too high. Far too many AHL level guys asked to play consistent NHL minutes. They need to add a true shutdown type center who is better than Kampf. They need another dynamic top 6 wing. They also need Andrew Shaw to be healthy and for Debrincat to have a rebound year in 2020-21. A combination of those things plus the development of Dach could be enough to be back in the playoffs.
Crawford needs to be back and I hope he is back at a lower cap hit. I think the other guys in the program are all good enough to be a 3rd goalie. A fine option when someone gets hurt, but not someone you want to count on for 30+ games. The Blackhawks have swung and missed on goalies in the draft since they took Crawford in 2003. They've gotten really lucky by being able to find gems like Darling, Emery, Niemi, and Raanta, but that has seemingly run dry. I don't know how the draft lottery or the draft period, is going to shake out, but maybe the Blackhawks should target the Russian goalie
No idea, but yes
Kane is so smart and so skilled and he LOVES hockey. He gets better all the time. I think he will continue to find new ways to score. I kind of think he will score forever. Maybe not always at this current rate, but I could see him being effective until he's 40. Maybe longer. He might be Jagr and just plays forever. He loves the game that much. I hope he does.
I don't know if this is a real rumor or just something that Kane said off the cuff. Also, no way of knowing how real this could be because of the current state of things. A new President could bring new hockey ops and a new person who doesn't know Sharpy and he'd have to apply for a job just like anyone else. Having said that, I always thought he was too smart and too competitive for TV, but too good-looking to be scouting in Des Moines. We'll see how it shakes out. He could probably make BIG money doing TV for the next 25 years if he wanted to without any of the aggravation.
That's it for now. Need hockey back in a big way. Need the next show to drop in a bigger way this summer.