Would This Roster Of Blackhawks Cast-offs Make The Playoffs? A Mailbag Blog

So the title of the blog was a question posed to me on twitter and spaces maybe a week ago and now I can't find it. I think it is an interesting question. Definitely one we've discussed before, but not for a while. I think this is shockingly the strongest group of cast-offs. Shocking because most of these guys have pretty reasonable contracts. This is my best attempt at actual forward lines for the guys available

Forwards

Panarin-Danault-Hagel

Teravainen-Hartman-Duclair

Saad-Schmaltz-Pius Suter

Hinostroza-Kampf-Carpenter

Defense

Keith-Jokiharju

Rutta-Forsling

Leddy-Carlsson

Goalies

Fleury

Lehner

By my count that is a cap compliant team and one that looks pretty damn good. A little thin/overslotted down the middle. Solid, but not spectacular defense. Great goalies. Best collection of left wings in the game. Make Joel Quenneville the coach and I think he gets that team to the playoffs. It's incredible that all the makings of a competitive team were always here. If you just added Hartman, Danault, Teravainen, Duclair, Forsling, and Jokiharju while keeping Fleury to the current group and you might just be a Cup team. The worst part of losing all those guys is that Bowman managed to get basically nothing of value in return. I've always said that about the break up of the 2010 team. Ladd, Byfuglien, Versteeg, etc etc etc...no roster help from any of those trades. It's honestly remarkable. 

I would say that this feels accurate so far about the Davidson plan. Lafferty, Katchouk, Raddysh all have played hard since they arrived. Culture type guys. No idea what their short or long term futures are here, but the Blackhawks became one of the softer and most complacent/apathetic teams in the league under Bowman and Colliton. Adding highly competitive guys to your lineup is good long term. Foster competitiveness and a meritocracy in camp and practice and you're on the right path.

As far as this off-season....nobody. It is impossible to know what they're going to do with guys currently on the team including Toews and Kane let alone pick out free agent targets. I think we will see this philosophy applied to the draft more so than any current NHL players. 

Gun to my head I say no, but that is gut read on the same information you all have. I don't have any "sources" on that.

I think there are names the Blackhawks should pursue. 

Jim Montgomery would be a no-brainer and I think should be in consideration. Great coach who knows how to develop young players and get respect of the veterans. Now…he has a lot of baggage. I've been told he is 100% still clean and sober and his personal life is in a good place. I doubt the Blackhawks would consider a coach with some demons on the heels of what happened last year, but from a hockey only perspective he checks many boxes. Rocky Thompson would be a good choice. Rick Tochhet would be interesting. Everyone always throws Rikard Gronberg's name as their "outside the box" candidate. It's been speculated so much that he's no longer outside the box. I am sure that Torts, Claude, maybe Yeo, and a bunch of other retreads will get consideration. 

I think he's been fine. About what was expected. I think he will be a very good middle 6 type guy for a long time. I like him better as a wing right now, but his flexibility gives Davidson and the next coach options if they move on from Toews, Strome, or Dach this summer. 

I do think they should've brought Reichel up earlier. His first significant run of NHL games coming when many guys on the team appear to have checked out because it's post-deadline and post-playoff elimination isn't a great intro to the NHL level in my opinion. Probably not something that will be super significant long term, but also not ideal either. 

It is too early to call him a "major bust". I feel like Dach has been discussed ad nauseum at this point. I will quickly recap my points about him. 

1) Yes, he was probably drafted too high and that is Stan's fault not Dach's.

2) Yes, he was called up WAY too early, but that is Stan's fault not Dach's.

3) Yes, he lost a full year of key development time because he broke his wrist at the WJC camp, but that is Stan's fault, not Dach's.

Having said those three things…everything else is Dach's responsibility and will be going forward. At the end of the day we are talking about a 21 year-old that is 6'4, right shot, and 200+lbs. There aren't a lot of guys like him in the league. I've heard that he is a nice kid, but immature (as we all are at that age). I don't really know him, but he doesn't seem like a shit head to me. Having said that…he needs to have a big summer. Take some time to clear his head. Do the Gordon Bombay search for his inner-self while skating alone montage. Find that confidence. Find that love for the game. Dach has skill. He is a good skater for his size. He has a good brain for the game defensively. He has the tools to make himself a competent NHL player. He needs to work on his shot, his face-offs, and he needs to play with more aggression. Aggression with the puck on his stick, aggression on the wall, aggression everywhere. 

It always seems to take bigger bodies longer to develop at the NHL level. Strome found his game this year. Tage Thompson finally broke out this year in Buffalo. Those guys are different types of players than Dach, but the point remains. 

If Dach regains some confidence, learns how to use his size more effectively, plays a direct and aggressive game then he can be a very good player here for a long time. He isn't Getzlaf, but he could be a Jordan Staal and that'd be a very useful piece. Probably has a little more offensive upside than Stall too. He needs a new contract. Very interested to see how his situation plays out this summer. 

If you win the NHL Lottery you sprint up to the podium to take Shane Wright. He has been a stud for so long that people are over criticizing his game. He will be a big time goal scorer in the NHL and any team would be lucky to have him. I don't think he is McDavid or anything. He isn't as good as Bedard (2023 1st overall pick), but that shouldn't mean that the Blackhawks should be hoping to not win the lottery. Wright will probably be an all-star, while Bedard has hall of fame talent. People are acting as if losing the lottery this year guarantees that they get Bedard next year when that is NOT the case. 

As far as the Minnesota pick…I can't sit here and say that I have seen a TON of any of the prospects at the end of the 1st round, but one guy that I would like or at least a guy that I am intrigued by is Marco Kasper. Plays in the top league in Sweden. Smart kid. Good size and skating. Captain of Austria's U-20 team. Again, not an expert, but I do kind of read about prospects like they're a racing form and Kasper has a lot of traits I like and those descriptors his coaches use really do pop up on screen when he's on the ice. 

And there is a FIRE shirt for all of us to support our draft hopes and local guy, Ryan Hartman

That is all I've got for now. HUGE summer ahead for the Blackhawks. On a positive note, I have liked what I have seen from Regula and Vlasic this past week or so. Vlasic has made more plays with the puck than I thought was possible for him. Regula has made more good defensive plays than I would've expected. They both look like they could have a future in the NHL as 3rd pair guys. I wish both of them played a little meaner. I would LOVE it if Vlasic turned into a Josh Manson type. They really need of their defense prospects to pop and turn into a legit top 4 guy. My highest hopes for that are with Wyatt Kaiser, but they've got some lottery balls with Mitchell, Allen, Vlasic, Regula, Del Mastro. 

It has been a MISERABLE season, but I feel better about the organization now than I did in September or October. Keep doing the right things and it'll pay off.