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Blackhawks Opinion: The Rebuild Pivot Has Begun

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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Petr Mrazek could only smile when pressed about any discussions about re-signing with the team.

“Ha, good one right,” Mrazek chuckled when asked if his agent had discussions with general manager Kyle Davidson. “You have to ask him. I haven’t talked to him for a few days.”

Whether or not Mrazek’s agent, Gerry Johannson has chatted with Davidson is moot, though. With how the Blackhawks GM is choosing to take care of things now, it only seems inevitable that the 31-year-old netminder gets a similar two-year extension all things considered.

Mrazek Has Been a Major Factor in the Blackhawks Success

When he started out with the Detroit Red Wings, Mrazek was known for his flash and ability to steal games. As he was traded at the 2018 trade deadline, his numbers in Philadelphia didn’t come close to what he produced in Detroit and in his next two stops with Carolina and Toronto, it was mixed results with injury concerned woven in.

With Chicago, especially this year, 11 of the Hawks’ 13 wins belong to Mrazek. He hasn’t received the goal support to tack on more to that total, but has still managed to keep the Blackhawks in games and when the goals have shown up, steal a few, too.

Davidson has made shown he’s unlikely to be very active at the trade deadline, with fewer pieces to ship elsewhere. Further, signing Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson to two-year deals seems to indicate a rebuild pivot point. Why collect the draft picks and prospects who need time to cook when many of those potential impact players are already in the organization?

So the natural progression of pushing out of a rebuild has started. It may not be to the speed or scope of what some fans are seeking, but there is a deliberate pace to things. While Davidson puts the right pieces around the younger players slated to arrive, he’s spending a bit more up front to save more money down the road.

The short terms handed out to Dickinson, Foligno, and presuambly Mrazek keeps things freer once it comes time to offer Connor Bedard and Kevin Korchinski what will be longer term and higher dollars. The unfortunate truth for some is that the Blackhawks are still at least a couple seasons away from really pushing for a playoff spot–granted that players hit as they’re supposed to.

I have a piece coming out later that will really dive into rebuilds across the league, but taking my objective hat off for a moment, I will say that what Davidson is doing is the right way. There are so many unknowns in sports–where things look correct at the time but go sideways for a number of reasons. Sometimes, too, they go better than expected. Both Vancouver and Colorado can claim that with Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar respectively.

Davidson’s plan to limit term is the only way to go. Free agency is no longer going to provide a Marian Hossa like it did 15 years ago. It will be through trades and drafting and developing that the Blackhawks find their way back to contention.

Locking Mrazek up for a couple more years helps a growing team move forward. The rest will take care of itself.

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