5 storylines to follow as the Blackhawks head into the offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Blackhawks officially ended the 2021-22 season on Friday, so let’s dive into our top five storylines heading into the offseason:
1. Where things stand with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews
Kane and Toews are entering the final years of their contracts, and they’ve been tied at the hip since they broke into the NHL together. But you wonder what the conversations between them will look like before the summer.
No doubt Kane and Toews would love to end their careers as Blackhawks, but could the timeline of this rebuild make them rethink their future in Chicago? Kane is 33 and Toews just turned 34 on Friday. The only way they will be moved is if they request a trade. Time will tell if it gets to that point after having further discussions with general manager Kyle Davidson.
2. Big splashes to come?
The Blackhawks don’t have many tradable assets that could kick off a real rebuild. Alex DeBrincat is probably the guy who would get the biggest return, but the Blackhawks would have to have their socks ripped for that to happen. Think about what the Blackhawks got for Brandon Hagel, then multiply it. No one seems to be off the table, so we’ll see if the Blackhawks receive any offers this summer that could help them rack up draft capital or prospects.
3. Get your gear out of Edmonton and Minnesota
The Blackhawks have the sixth-best odds to clinch the No. 1 overall pick, and that’s notable because the Seth Jones trade isn’t over yet. If the Blackhawks jump to the Top 2, Columbus will own Chicago’s first round in 2023. If it’s outside the Top 2, Columbus will have Chicago’s first round in 2022 and the Blackhawks will keep theirs in 2023. fate will take place on May 10, so circle that date.
Also something to watch as we prepare to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs: If Minnesota advances to the Western Conference Finals and Fleury is the winning goaltender in at least four games in two rounds, Chicago will receive Minnesota’s 2022 first-round pick. If these conditions are not met, Chicago will receive Minnesota’s second-round pick.
And finally: If Edmonton makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals and Duncan Keith ranks among the Oilers’ top four defensemen in ice time in the first three rounds, Chicago will receive Edmonton’s 2022 second-round pick. If these conditions are not met, Chicago will receive the third round from Edmonton.
4. What future for Dylan Strome?
Starting Jan. 4, Strome had 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points in 47 games. Previously, he had three goals and four assists for seven points in 22 games, and he was a healthy draw seven times in the first 11 games of the season.
Strome has completely turned his season around, and it’s going to lead to some fascinating contract negotiations as he’s eligible for arbitration as a pending restricted free agent. If disgruntled forward Jake DeBrusk got a two-year extension at a $4 million cap with Boston, Strome can make a case that should be his benchmark at the very least. The question is, will he get that kind of contract in Chicago?
5. What will happen with the goalkeepers?
The Blackhawks don’t have an NHL goaltender signed for next season, with Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen both pending unrestricted free agents. Arvid Soderblom and Jaxson Stauber are the only two under contract, but they should probably form the Rockford IceHogs duo.
Here’s the thing: It probably won’t be a fun experience if you’re the Blackhawks goaltender next season. They could be pretty bad when it comes to the No. 1 overall pick, so there’s no point trying to use next season as an opportunity to develop a goalkeeper. It might make more sense to bring in a Cam Ward-type veteran as a starter to get the Blackhawks through over the next year or two so as not to destroy a prospect’s psyche.
Click here to subscribe to the Blackhawks Talk podcast for free.
Download MyTeams today!