Cue the Duckboats | Championship Collection for Banner 18SHOP NOW

Advertisement

Elliotte Friedman Speculates On NHL Network That The Blackhawks Are Going To Sign Jake Guentzel. Mailbag Blog

So this is out there a little bit. I guess this was predicted by Elliotte Friedman on the Marek show today. I haven't been able to find the clip so I don't know exactly what was said, but this does sort of line up with what I've been saying/pushing for months now. I think the Blackhawks will be sort of aggressive in their build around Bedard and the other prospects coming soon. Many fans get all twisted up thinking that adding good players is somehow bad. It's time to start competing. If you lose for too long you become a loser. That team last year were losers in addition to being a bad team. The Blackhawks need to push forward. They need to build out a culture of accountability and winning. Right now they only have Bedard who is a teenager, Vlasic, and Korchinski who are here for the long haul. You need some vets to show those guys the way who can actually play a top 6 role. I love Foligno as much as the next guy, but I love him on the 4th line, not the 1st. 

Some people might get stick shock and think that a deal for Guentzel would mess up the cap long term. I am here to tell you that it won't. The Athletic projected that Guentzel will probably get 7 years and an AAV of $9.5M. That's what the Blackhawks paid for Tyler Johnson and Nikita Zaitsev last year. I'd say that getting Guentzel for that price tag is a pretty good swap. 

Yes, the Blackhawks can't go spending recklessly because Bedard, Nazar, and Korchinski are all going to be free agents at the same time in two years. Right now the only one of those guys who will get a monster deal is Bedard. I do believe Korchinski and Nazar will be good players. I don't think their RFA deals are going to exceed what we just saw the Blackhawks give Vlasic. It's going to be hard for those guys to produce enough to justify mega deals their first go-round. Adding Guentzel isn't that big of a financial risk in my opinion. You get a guy who knows where the goals are and is accustomed to playing with GREAT players. 

I'd also bring back Patrick Kane. I will never understand the decision to push him away or who made the decision. Anyone who was at the Kane/Chelios game in February got a pretty good look at why that was the wrong decision last summer. His hip looks as good as new. He still has that fire. A full off-season of training and recovery only means that he will be better next year. 

I've heard from people around the organization that he was "hard on teammates" his last year here and that the organization was worried that Bedard and the other young guys would "defer to him too much". On the former...good. Kane isn't going to kiss you on the forehead and tell you things are okay. I've said it a thousand times but he's worked well with all sorts of different players in his career, including young ones like Panarin, Strome, and Debrincat. I also don't think Bedard is the type to defer. You need a guy to establish a culture. A guy with a connection to winning. Guentzel and Kane both have that. Kane should be here. Break every record. Push Bedard to the next level. Win. Sign him to a 3x4M deal or something in that neighborhood and apologize for what happened in the last 18 months. Right the wrong. 

Advertisement

I don't know what Gajan is going to be at this point. I don't know what Commesso is going to be either. I do what Keumper is…not the goalie of the future. If they want to explore the market for another goalie, I am on board with that. I don't think Keumper solves any real problems for you. 

I've got a feeling this is the plan. The Blackhawks have made a TON of draft picks the last three years and still have more next year. I wouldn't be surprised if they're looking more quality than quantity at this point. They could use some more size up front to go with Bedard, Nazar, and Moore. It would not shock me if they move 18 and the two 2nd round picks to move up to the top 10 to get a forward that they love. 

Advertisement

Kaiser, Reichel, #18, and the Toronto 1st next year. 

I don't think Marner is the right piece. 

I am very curious about how Davidson feels about Richardson at this point. I don't think the team was good last year and while there was a big talent issue, I also feel like they didn't compete hard enough and the special teams weren't very special. Then again…Vlasic took a huge step. How much credit does Richardson get for that? Is he hands on with young dmen? I really don't know. I really don't know anything, but I don't think it's a lock that Richardson is the coach in '25-26.

I think Nazar plays more than 50 games this year. 

I think I am most hopeful for Del Mastro at this point. I thought he looked solid in his call up at the end of the year. He made the AHL all-star team for what that is worth. It'd be a pretty nice luxury for Kyle Davidson if Del Mastro did make that big leap in his development. If he manages that the Blackhawks would have the left side of their defense sorted for the future with Vlasic, Korchinski, and Del Mastro. The Blackhawks have a handful of young left shot defensemen with Kaiser, Del Mastro, Phillips, and Nolan Allen. It'd be amazing if any of them grabbed that third pair job by the reins. It'd be even better if two of them did so the Hawks could flip one for something else. 

Advertisement

If the Blackhawks add Guentzel and Kane, Korchinski takes a step forward in his development, they get solid goaltending, Taylor Hall is healthy. and Nazar is ready to be a contributing pro then this team should be fun and playing meaningful games in March. I don't think they quite have enough to be playing in April, but if Kyle has a big summer and the young guys do too then I could see them sniffing around the wild card late into the spring. That would be enough for me. 

I think it is going to be very difficult to move Seth Jones. Not many teams can afford him. He has a full NMC. I don't think he's as bad as everyone says, but he's not a $9M player either. Like I said…that top four could be good with him a part of it. My gut says he won't finish out his contract in Chicago though. 

Advertisement

People have hated when I say it's Levshunov. I've said that the entire time. I haven't seen compelling evidence to change my mind yet. Maybe something will during the Russian combine process. This is more philosophy and comfortability than scouting. I believe in building from the back. I like what I saw from Levshunov at MSU. If you prefer the Demidov, well, reasonable people can disagree. Maybe he is awesome. I just prefer a different type of player at this point. 

I just want this team we love to be run the right way and be competitive on the ice. These NHL playoffs have been electric and the only thing that hurts is that we've been out of the mix in Chicago for damn near 10 seasons. It's time to start the climb. We are ready for it. We deserve it.