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Scott Darling Tells Everyone What It Was Really Like To Be Teammates With Duncan Keith

I am still in shock that Duncan Keith is gone. I am more in shock that Darling tattooed a wolf on his body because of something Keith said to him, but that is just the power of Duncan Keith. When you really boil it down, he was the draft pick that started it all. 2002. The very first building block. The guy Bob Pulford reportedly called the worst draft pick in the history of the Blackhawks when he was selected in the 2nd round. Fast forward 20 years and he is one of the 5 greatest Blackhawks ever to put on the Indian Head sweater and he, as much as anyone else, made that logo and this city matter in the hockey landscape. Hearing Darling talk about how Duncan Keith ran the Hawks and pushed the team towards the dynasty was incredible. Must listen for Hawks fans. 

Keith's trade was the first domino to fall this summer. The first of many in what is the most important summer in Blackhawks history. They have many more moves to make. Rumored to be in on everyone at some point from Jones, to Fleury, to Hamilton, to Eichel. There are a ton of questions out there and I will take this time to answer them all

When you look at the list of goalies available it is really slim pickings in the UFA column. This question is really about how much you believe in Lankinen. I am not totally sold he can be the #1 on a Stanley Cup caliber team. If you look at the playoffs this year(and really every year except the 2010 Niemi Hawks) every team has had a top flight goalie. I'd be extremely happy with Lankinen getting 35 games next year. Beyond that...well, like we saw this year, he could turn into a pumpkin again. Grubauer is the only UFA that looks like a clear upgrade though. I bet he gets priced out of the market for the Blackhawks. Then you're left with guys like Freddie Anderson, Jonathan Bernier, or the Carolina cast-offs. I don't really think those guys are THAT much better than Delia. I'd rather spend money elsewhere. 

I think Kubalik is a great fit on that left side for Toews. They had some success playing together in the bubble. I would like to see the Blackhawks have a winger on the right side who can retrieve pucks and play with speed and creativity. I could see Hinostroza re-signing and filling that role. It could also be a spot for Hagel. IF, and it's a big if, Reichel is ready right away his skill set fits that description too. 

No idea how serious those rumors are, but yeah I would welcome Flower. I don't know how a deal with Vegas would work or how the money would work, but so long as Fleury doesn't hinder their ability to sign/trade for Jones or other upgrades I would pick him up at the airport, let him sleep in my bed, and drive him to the rink every day. The Blackhawks give up a SHIT ton of high danger chances. Fleury just won the Vezina and finished 3rd in "saves above expected". He's an acrobat that could bail out the Hawks defense and Colliton. He definitely makes them better and would be that perfect veteran tandem with Lankinen. Again, no idea how the money would work, but it is worth exploring. 

I think that is the order…Jones, then Hamilton, then Eichel. I think they'll inquire about all of them. I think they could realistically take a run at two of them and I have outlined how that is possible. Those are three guys who will have every team in the league lining up for their services. I don't know if the Hawks have the chips to make any of them happen. 2015 was a long time ago. The organization isn't as attractive as it once was. 

No. The Hawks don't have a guy like that. I think everyone falls in love with their own prospects because they don't follow guys in other organizations. The Blackhawks are typically ranked in the bottom 3rd of prospect pools. They've got a ton of guys in the system, but I think at best their guys project as a #4. Mitchell, Boqvist, Beaudin, Vlasic, Regula, Phillips, etc…all of them project as 4-7 type guys. I think Wyatt Kaiser has maybe the most upside based on what I watched at Duluth, but I am not scout and he is still very much a prospect who is several years away from being a top 4 NHL defenseman. 

This question, to me, really comes down to a few factors(assuming a Jones trade that doesn't involve Debrincat or Dach)

1) Can Toews come back and be Toews

2) Can Dach, with health, a training camp, and a great summer, turn himself into a 65-75 ppg guy as a top 6 center?

3) Do you believe in Borgstrom, Nylander, and Reichel as guys who can honest to god be assets on the 3rd line THIS year.

If those three things happen and Strome/Suter is your third center with competent playmaking wings and the Hawks get good Lankinen they should be able to push for a playoff spot. If any of those things don't happen they'll be in the lottery again. They also likely need Mitchell and/or Boqvist to take a BIG step. That's a lot of variables. My gut says that they'll be in the lottery again. 

Elliotte Friedman said that any deal for Jones with the Blackhawks would require Dach or Debrincat. It ain't going to be Debrincat. I guess, I could sorta, maybe, in theory, be talked into a team with Toews, Suter, Strome/Borgstrom down the middle, but I'd probably tell Jarmo to get fucked on a Dach deal too. 

I'd offer the following:

Boqvist(or whichever young defenseman they like best of Mitchell/Beaudin/Boq)

RFA rights to Suter

RFA rights to Zadorov

Kurashev

Nylander

2022 top 5 protected 1st round pick

2021 2nd round pick

That might not be enough to get it done. The Hawks haven't won a playoff series since 2015 and somehow the cupboard is still pretty bare in terms of high end prospects other teams would want in a trade. 

Great question. It's going to be tough. 

I've always really like Ryan Murray. He could be a nice add. Still only 27 years-old. Probably wants to get the fuck out of New Jersey. I'd LOVE to have Erik Haula in the bottom 6. I kind of think Tatar is a good, smart, player who is typically undervalued. He could be a fit somewhere. Ryan Dzingel is a local kid who has some warts to his game, but I love his edge and they might be able to get him on a deal because it's home and he's coming off a bit of a tough year. 

The Blackhawks will protect 7 forwards, 3 defense, and a goalie. My guess on the list of protected forwards:

Kane, Toews, Debrincat, Hagel, Strome, Borgstrom, and Kampf

Defense protections are tougher. They have to pick three of these 5 to protect. Murphy, Zadorov, de Haan, Caleb Jones, and Riley Stillman. Murphy is a lock to be protected. The Hawks JUST signed Riley Stillman to a 3-year extension. My gut says that means he's safe. Caleb Jones could be a key factor in acquiring and signing his brother Seth. That leaves de Haan and Zadorov. Zadorov is an RFA and asking for absurd money for a guy who was a healthy scratch at a point down the stretch. I'm not a fan of Zadorov. The game never feels safe when he's out there. I like de Haan way more. I'd probably expose Stillman and Z, but my guess is that de Haan is the guy to get left out there along with Malcolm Subban and Delia. HOPEFULLY de Haan is still here after the expansion draft and your defense goes 

de Haan-Seth Jones

Murray-Murphy

Caleb Jones-Mitchell/Boqvist/Kalynuk/whoever

That's it for now. Hold on to your butts for the next 3 weeks. It's going to be a white knuckle kind of summer in Chicago.