Mrazek earned a contract. Other than Bedard and Vlasic, I'd say Mrazek has been the best player on the team. I like that the Blackhawks re-signed him, Foligno, and Dickinson. I've seen people argue that the Blackhawks should've dealt those guys at the deadline for additional draft picks. Here is my general thoughts on the draft capital the Blackhawks missed out on...
2022: three first round picks, two 2nd round picks
2023: two first round picks, three 2nd round picks
2024: two first round picks, three 2nd round picks
2025: two first round picks, two 2nd round picks
That's 9 first round picks, and 10 2nd round picks in a 4 year window. One of those being a true generational star in Bedard, and another top 5 pick coming this year. If the hockey operations department can't build a legit core with 20 high draft picks in a four year window then they should be fired. Eventually you need to build a culture for these prospects to walk into. That's part of the rebuild. It's part of the development process.
Dickinson, Mrazek, and Foligno have been both good players and good citizens here by all accounts. The Hawks "overpaid" to keep them, but they have a gazillion dollars to spend. These short term deals won't impact the future negatively at all.
There's a faction of the fanbase that doesn't like or doesn't understand why I want the Blackhawks to spend on legitimate free agent help for Bedard. Me wanting to add help for Bedard is because I care about the rebuild. I care about the development. This clip of KG talking about Rondo helps explain that.
Bedard needs help. He needs to play with other high-end guys who can think and see the game at a rate he does. There's nobody on the team that can help Bedard grow on the ice right now. It's why I was/am furious about them turning their back on Patrick Kane.
As I said above, the Blackhawks have a SHIT ton of money in the short term. They should flex that. They can get creative. Who in their right mind would offer Stamkos a 2-year $24M deal? Nobody. Well, I would. Stamkos can still play. He's a good leader. The Hawks can give him that money and it would help Bedard without hurting their long-term cap situation. I'd come up with similar structures for other free agents too. They can't roll out a similar roster next year. They need to take a step.
I remember when I said last year that Reichel looked like a 3rd line guy and people were furious with me. Well, that is coming true. He has some great attributes, but I think people need to realize that he's just not good. He's not going to be an all-star. I think sometimes prospects get too high of expectations because they're the best guy in the organization's pool, but that doesn't mean a player is necessarily elite or a top 6 type guy. I hope he's able to carve a role and an NHL career, but Kurashev has out-performed Reichel, and guys like Nazar and Moore will also be competing with him for similar roles. Very curious to see what happens to him this summer with his rookie deal being up.
No it is not. He's been incredible this year. He's a guy that the Blackhawks can count on to become a top 4 dman on a good playoff team. I hope the organization is able to sign him to an 8-year extension with an AAV in the 4s. That could end up looking like one of the better contracts in the game as the cap goes up.
This is most definitely the way the Hawks will be active at this deadline. They're a salary cap bank. We've seen them do it before with Jason Dickinson and Nikita Zaitsev trades. Would be great if they could find a way to land a useful player. Now…the Hawks should be looking to acquire pieces this summer so they should be careful about who exactly they help out of salary cap jail beyond this season, but they should be able to get some extra assets.
The top of the next NHL is going to be very interesting. Obviously, Celebrini looks like he's going #1, but after that it feels like it's anybody's guess. I've heard some teams aren't even really considering Cole Eiserman that high despite how easily he makes scoring look. I think the Blackhawks would pass on him. The other thing is the Russian factor. I think Demidov would be passed over by the Hawks in the top 3 as well.
At some point it's not going to simply be "best player available" and you do sort of need to consider organizational needs. The Blackhawks have Jones, Vlasic, and Korchinski on the team for the foreseeable future. That's 75% of your top 4. Murphy is still here. I know they still like Wyatt Kaiser and are extremely high on Rinzel. If they feel Rinzel has a legit shot at being a top 4 guy do you need another one? I could see them taking Sam Dickinson or Levshunov. They both fit their profile. I love what I've seen in Dickinson in limited viewings.
If I am picking 2nd my gut right now says either Dickinson or Cayden Lindstrom. Lindstrom is a big power forward with a lot of offense. Something the Blackhawks desperately need. Gun to my head on 1/24/24 I would take Dickinson. He's already got a pretty mature defensive game and he's 6'3 190lbs. Skating, vision, confidence, skill, size, he has it all. I'd be thrilled to get any of Celebrini, Lindstrom, or Dickinson.
Goalies take forever. I think the Blackhawks were hoping Soderblom would show something this year, but he's been brutal. I haven't seen Commesso in Rockford, but his numbers aren't great. Gajan looked great in the WJC, but he's going into his freshman season NEXT year at UMD. Both guys aren't sure things to say the least which brings me to Vegas
The Knights have Adin Hill and Logan Thompson contracts both expiring after 2025. If I were Davidson I would call them up and see if a deal can be worked out. Maybe one of the Hawks three 2nd round picks in the 2026 draft and something else.
1) Draft Celebrini
2) Extend Vlasic for 8 years and $32-35M
3) Sign Stamkos 2 years and $22M
4) Trade for a goalie in his prime if possible (Thompson/Hill/Ullmark)
5) I'd also take a run at one of Guentzel, Reinhart, and Lindholm. They need more talent. I'd like to create a situation where the young guys coming have to earn their spots instead of being thrown into the deep end. I don't want to handcuff the cap situation so they'll have to get creative. Would one of those guys take a monster deal on short term and then be a free agent again at 31-32 yeras old? I don't know.
I maintain that the Blackhawks don't need more prospect or draft picks beyond what they already have. 20 picks in the first two rounds in a 4 year span which includes Bedard, and in this scenario, Celebrini as well, is more than enough. Time to start adding.
6) Sign Patrick Kane