After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Chicago Blackhawks:
The Chicago Blackhawks have made it clear they’re in a rebuild and will be going in a different direction this season.
General manager Stan Bowman said it was time to give others a chance after goalie Corey Crawford wasn’t re-signed and forward Brandon Saad was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 10. Each was part of Chicago’s Stanley Cup championship teams in 2013 and 2015.
“We’re not trying to do anything other than to grow through younger players, give them an opportunity,” Bowman said two days before the Saad trade. “We’re not going to have an entire team of young players. That’s unrealistic. I don’t know if that’s a formula anyone’s using or what we’re saying here. What we’re trying to say is that you do have to have an opportunity for young players to get into the League and play a role and to grow because that’s where you’re going to see progress. That’s how your team’s going to move to becoming an elite team, and that’s what we’re striving to be.”
[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]
The Blackhawks traded Saad for defensemen Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm after allowing 3.06 goals per game last season, tied with the Calgary Flames for 16th in the NHL.
“The one thing I want to bring is [being] harder to play against,” Zadorov said Oct. 12. “I can play against top lines and that’s what I want to bring to this team: play big minutes, play in big situations and try to shut down the best players on the opposite team.”
Chicago has three options to replace Crawford, including Malcolm Subban, who was acquired in a trade from the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 24 and agreed to a two-year contract Oct. 9.
Here is what the Blackhawks look like today:
Nikita Zadorov, D: The Blackhawks needed to get tougher at defenseman, and Zadorov (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) will help. The 25-year-old plays a mean game and scored 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 64 games last season. … Mattias Janmark, F: The 27-year-old agreed to a one-year contract Oct. 12. He helped the Dallas Stars reach the Stanley Cup Final last season, a six-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and scored 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 62 regular-season games. He was third among Dallas forwards with an average of 1:38 of shorthanded ice time. … Lucas Wallmark, F: The 25-year-old agreed to a one-year contract Oct. 12. He scored 25 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 67 games for the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers last season.
Corey Crawford, G: Agreed to a two-year contract with the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 9. He was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and one shutout in 40 games (39 starts) last season. … Brandon Saad, F: Scored 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 58 games last season. … Olli Maatta, D: Traded to the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 4 after he scored 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 65 games last season. … Drake Caggiula, F: Scored 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 40 games and is an unrestricted free agent. … Slater Koekkoek, D: Scored 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in 42 games. He is an unrestricted free agent.
On the cusp
Ian Mitchell, D: The 21-year-old scored 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 36 games for the University of Denver last season. He agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract April 13 and could join the Blackhawks this season. … MacKenzie Entwistle, F: The 21-year-old scored 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 56 games with Rockford of the AHL last season. A physical player, Entwistle (6-3, 184 pounds) should get a good look this season. … Kevin Lankinen, G: The 25-year-old was 8-10-2 with a 3.03 GAA and .909 save percentage in 21 games for Rockford last season. He will compete with Collin Delia and Subban for the two goalie jobs at training camp.
What they still need
To sign restricted free agent Dylan Strome. The Blackhawks gave a qualifying offer to the 25-year-old center, who scored 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists) in 58 games last season. He’s had good chemistry on a line with Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, his teammate with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League from 2014-17.
Left wing Dominik Kubalik is one of the most exciting players to reach for in middle rounds of a fantasy draft. Playing with valuable center Jonathan Toews last season, Kubalik led NHL rookies with 30 goals, impressive considering he did not usually play on the first power play with Toews and Kane, an elite right wing. Kubalik started his NHL postseason career by scoring five points (two goals, three assists) against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, another indication he could still have a much higher fantasy gear. — Pete Jensen
Dominik Kubalik — Jonathan Toews — Andrew Shaw
Alex DeBrincat — Kirby Dach — Patrick Kane
Pius Suter — Dylan Strome — Mattias Janmark
Alex Nylander — David Kampf — Ryan Carpenter
Duncan Keith — Adam Boqvist
Calvin de Haan — Connor Murphy
Nikita Zadorov — Brent Seabrook