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THE BLACKHAWKS ARE GOING FOR IT. Tyler Johnson and Jake McCabe Come On Down

The rebuild is officially canceled. I don't know what happened. I am not sure what changed. Maybe they were feeling pressure from other problems to put a good team on the ice. Maybe ticket sales were way down. Maybe they finally decided to go for it with Toews and Kane one last time. Whatever the reason...I don't care. This is what I've been saying for 5 years. You can't waste the last great years of Toews and Kane. You just can't. They tried rebuilding with high draft picks. It didn't work. The only true rebuild piece that is going to help is Dach(Debrincat was drafted in Rd 2 after a good 2016 reg season). I want another big run with 19 and 88 and if it craters at the end...I don't care. Do the rebuild then. I am totally fine with that and always was. I won't complain now that they're going for it. More chips are going to fall. We will see how things shake out, but this is a hockey blog day. Let's start with the trade last night. 

I had the full range of emotions on this trade last night and after a good night's sleep...I like it. Johnson isn't the dynamic offensive stud that he was when he signed his deal for $5M AAV. He's likely not going to approach 30 goals as he has done in the past, but he will probably get you 20. He will also play in all situations, be a plus player defensively, and help on draws. Also sounds like he is a coach's dream according to this quote from Jon Cooper

Absolutely effusive with praise for a guy that he played about 10 mins per game in the Stanley Cup Final. He will have a bigger role here, but yeah, the $5M AAV for a guy with a declining role and declining production at age 30 isn't ideal. I maintain that the team got better. 

I don't know exactly where he will fit in here. My guess would be 3rd line center, but he could see some time at wing (especially if the Hawks keep Strome and Borgstrom). I've always loved the idea of a right-shot center with speed playing with Patrick Kane too. Johnson going north-south playing through the middle, pushing the defense back with his speed and opening up that cross seem pass to Debrincat will be hockey porn. He'd also be another one-time option for Kane. If he's a 3rd line center I really like the idea of him with Strome and Hagel. Strome is best when he has a guy who can finish and a guy who can retrieve pucks. Hags get the pucks. Johnson buries the goals. Johnson alleviates some of Strome's issues at the dot and allows him to play wing defensively. That's a theoretical good combo too if Strome is still here at the end of all of this. 

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As for Jake McCabe...I've always loved him and here are the receipts

Now, at the age of 27 he is finally here. He is coming off a knee injury that cost him all but 13 games last year in Buffalo. If he is healthy and the contract is reasonable fans in Chicago will LOVE Jake McCabe. He's spent his whole career in Buffalo and somehow isn't a bust. That is saying something right there. He is very solid defensively. Not the best puck mover in the world, but also a guy that is somewhat hard to judge on that front because Buffalo has been such a disaster. You're going to get a guy who gives you hard minutes every night. He will work his dick off. Stand up for teammates. Block shots. He's been a leader on every team he's been on and was captain of gold medal winning 2013 WJC team where he played with…Seth Jones and Connor Murphy. Where he slots in remains to be seen, but the left side of the defense needed work and now the Blackhawks have a bonafide NHL guy to kill PKs and throw out against other teams better players. He's an upgrade over Stillman and Caleb Jones at this point. 

As things stand right now the Blackhawks could go

de Haan-Seth Jones

McCabe-Murphy

Stillman/Caleb Jones- Kalynuk/Mitchell

de Haan could get traded or he could play the right side as well which would allow the young guys to go to Rockford for extra seasoning. That group right there is the deepest the Blackhawks have been on defense since 2014. 

Things are looking up for the first time in a long time. There's a gleam men, there's a gleam. Let's get the gleam. One last midnight ride. Saddle up.