How Do These Hawks Look Two Years From Now?
I'll start by saying this, no one can really predict what's going to happen 2 years into the future. At least, I don't think anyone can, however, if I'm wrong and you have some super psychic powers, please hit me up.
With all of this draft talk recently (which has been exciting to see the Blackhawks with their first top 10 pick in years) I thought I would try to visualize how this team actually would look for the 2020-21 season.
The point of this blog is to attempt to determine areas of strength in the Hawks system for the purpose of who they should draft on this upcoming weekend, as well as who to target in free agency on July 1st.
The secondary point of this blog is to have fun and spark an interesting debate, not to chastise this blogger in 2 years because I said Tim Soderlund was going to be a staple on this team.
I have created this (very) loose roster breakdown based on the trends and progression of players currently on the team and those in the Hawks system.
ex: Kampf, Highmore, Forsling
You will note that I made the following educated guesses:
* Anisimov (traded)
* Duclair, Jurco, Gustafsson, Forsberg (traded or not resigned)
* Maxim Shalunov (signs after his KHL contract is up)
Now, of course, things will change with the addition of a few free agent acquisitions and/or players via trades. However, you can best bet that Stan, Mark Kelley and the rest of the Blackhawks front office examines their team in this fashion as they have been planning for the draft, future salary cap situation, and if you're Stan Bowman, "how do I keep my job?" - so we will do that same.
Before I give a little more rationale on the above. There are a lot of other players that could be playing for the Hawks who are currently in the system like:
… and the list goes on.
I'm trying to deal with the information and scouting reports at hand, however, this is so subjective, so if you think Lucas Carlsson should be in there instead of Hillman, or another variation, then that's totally fine.
Also, please don't get caught up in "the lines", these are also loosely put together just for the visualization of this exercise.
Now, I know you take the best player available at #8 on Saturday if you are Chicago. I will say though that Mark Kelley was just quoted by saying, that the Hawks will be in a great spot at 8th and will be able to pick a player that should be ranked higher than 8; there will be options there for him and the Hawks (paraphrasing here).
So, looking at the above a couple things jump out to me. First, even though I moved Artem Anisimov (which I believe is just the right thing to do to re-shape this team stylistically and financially) the Hawks look weak down the middle still. I slid Dylan Sikura over there out of necessity, but I believe he will be ultimately better as a winger in the NHL. So, there's a case to draft Jerperi Kotkaniemi if he's available with their 1st selection.
It appears the Blackhawks will have a lot of depth on the wing, but Oliver Wahlstrom would look pretty darn good with Toews and Saad in a couple years on that right side. Then, all of a sudden you have some serious triggermen in on almost every line with him, Debrincat, Kane, Edjsell, Shalunov.
On defence, the right side is looking really strong if Jokiharju and Mitchell turn out to be as good as advertised. That side is so strong that something is going to have to give actually as Murphy and Seabrook would still be under contract. That's a great problem to have as RHD are great trading chips as well (well unless it's a Seabrook-sized contract).
When evaluating the defence, it would make me even more comfortable in signing someone like Calvin de Haan for 3-4 years this off-season. Although the Hawks have 459 d-men in the system, it's questionable who will be ready to step in at this time. Also, I personally would like to see guys like Carlsson, Gilbert, Hillman, etc. progress in the minors as much as possible under Colliton so they are actually ready for NHL action when called upon.
Finally, the goaltending could look a bit different depending on Corey Crawford's health, as well as salary demands as he would have had to resign a deal in the summer of 2020. With the emergence of Delia and potential in a guy like Kevin Lankinen, there could be a reason for optimism in the organizations' depth.
After looking at this, would you want to tweak your draft or free agency arm-charm GM approach?
Would love to hear your thoughts.
See ya out there!