Blackhawks add Fleury, Jones in quest to return to playoffs

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After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the Chicago Blackhawks:

2020-21 season: 24-25-7, sixth in Discover Central Division; did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs

Key arrivals

Marc-Andre Fleury, G: The 36-year-old, acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights for forward prospect Mikael Hakkarainen on July 27, won the Vezina Trophy voted as the NHL’s best goalie after going 26-10-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and six shutouts last season. … Seth Jones, D: The 26-year-old, acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Adam Boqvist and three draft picks July 23, scored 28 points (five goals, 23 assists) in 56 games last season. … Jake McCabe, D: The 27-year-old signed a four-year contract on July 28 as an unrestricted free agent. He scored three points (one goal, two assists) in 13 games with the Buffalo Sabres last season. … Tyler Johnson, F: Acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Brent Seabrook on July 28, the 31-year-old scored 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 55 regular-season games last season and seven points (four goals, three assists) in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Lightning win the Stanley Cup. … Jujhar Khaira, F: The 26-year-old, who signed a two-year contract on July 28 as an unrestricted free agent, scored 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 40 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season. … Caleb Jones, D: The 24-year-old, acquired with a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft from the Oilers for defenseman Duncan Keith and minor-league forward Tim Soderlund on July 12, had four assists in 33 games last season.

Video: Expectations for Blackhawks in 2021-2022

Key departures

Duncan Keith, D: A three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago (2010, 2013, 2015), Keith scored 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 54 games and led the Blackhawks in average ice time per game (23:25) last season. He ranks second in Blackhawks history in games (1,192) and 10th in points (625) … Adam Boqvist, D: He scored 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 35 games last season. … Nikita Zadorov, D: Traded to the Calgary Flames on July 28, the restricted free agent scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 55 games last season. … Pius Suter, F: He agreed to a two-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 28 after he did not receive a qualifying offer. Suter scored 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 55 games last season. … David Kampf, F: He signed a two-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 28 after scoring 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 56 games last season.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

On the cusp

Wyatt Kalynuk, D: The 24-year-old scored nine points (four goals, five assists) in 21 games last season and 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in eight games with Rockford of the American Hockey League. … Lukas Reichel, F: The 19-year-old scored 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games last season with Eisbaren in Deutsche Eishokey Liga (DEL), the top professional league in Germany.

What they still need

A healthy Jonathan Toews. The Blackhawks captain, who helped them win the Stanley Cup three times (2010, 2013, 2015), missed last season with what he called chronic immune response syndrome. It’s uncertain whether Toews will be ready for training camp but he is expected to play at some point this season. He gives the Blackhawks depth at center, along with Kirby Dach and Johnson. Toews also gives them another scoring threat; he scored 60 points (18 goals, 42 assists) in 70 regular-season games in 2019-20 and nine points (five goals, four assists) in nine games in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Toews is also strong at face-offs; he’s won 56.9 percent of them in the NHL.

They said it

“For sure, when you bring in experienced players who have won Cups and had success, there’s reason for optimism and excitement. This is an extension of our plan. We’re not changing course. What we’re trying to do is surround young players, give them a good foundation and have a strong team on the ice.” — general manager Stan Bowman

Fantasy focus

Jones should be considered a top 10 fantasy defenseman option following the trade. Jones had three seasons of at least 42 points for the Blue Jackets, including an NHL career-high 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists) and 24 power-play points in 2017-18. He also can boost Chicago’s power play, which was strong last season (21.7 percent, 11th in NHL). Jones has the ceiling of surpassing his best point total with exposure to elite right wing Patrick Kane and valuable fantasy forwards Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, Toews and Dach. — Pete Jensen

Projected lineup

Alex DeBrincat — Kirby Dach — Patrick Kane

Lukas Reichel — Jonathan Toews — Dominik Kubalik

Philipp Kurashev — Tyler Johnson — Dylan Strome

Brandon Hagel — Jujhar Khaira — Ryan Carpenter

Jake McCabe — Seth Jones

Calvin de HaanConnor Murphy

Riley Stillman — Wyatt Kalynuk

Marc-Andre Fleury

Kevin Lankinen

Photo courtesy: Chase Agnello-Dean/Chicago Blackhawks

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