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50 Questions, Comments & Concerns After 50 Blackhawks Games

What will Connor Bedard’s final point total be? Which prospect will be the first to Chicago? Those and more in the 50 Thoughts for 50 Games

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The Chicago Blackhawks (14-34-2) are 50 games into the season and it’s been what many expected but certainly had its trying moments in another full rebuild season. Here are 50 thoughts after 50 games–which to be honest–has gone relatively fast for another season where losses heavily outnumber wins.

20 Quick Thoughts and a Few Questions on Blackhawks Players

  1. Connor Bedard wins the Calder not solely because of his numbers, but because his injury showed just how much of the offense he generated.
  2. Bedard has been everything the Blackhawks could have hoped for and more–which allows Kyle Davidson to patiently build.
  3. Lukas Reichel showed some flashes during the Hawks 2-0 loss to Calgary . The Blackhawks need him to start producing just as much as he needs it to push through the frustration.
  4. If Alex Vlasic continues to be the defenseman he’s been the first half of the season, Chicago will have two long-term blue line solutions under the age of 23
  5. Tyler Johnson should be another veteran considered for a two-year deal. Injuries have hurt the past few years–and months. But his absence has been felt, especially on the scoresheet.
  6. Seth Jones, despite what some fans want to believe, is more valuable than they want to let on. His bigger cap hit is what they choose to fixate on–which is understandable. But Jones is an important part of the team.
  7. With a healthy team and more goal support, Arvid Soderblom would look better on paper to Blackhawks fans.
  8. Don’t forget that Taylor Hall will be back next season, presuming his rehab goes as it should. Those are more goals as well that will nurture the team along.
  9. Anthony Beauvillier has been in Chicago for just a little bit but when he returns, could be a great option to bring back as well.
  10. Nick Foligno should wear the C next season after signing his two-year extension. Takes some pressure off of Bedard and allows him to continue to grow.
  11. Whenever Andreas Athanasiou makes it back, could his speed be affected by what has been a lengthy injury? It’s his greatest weapon and what drives his offensive game.
  12. Petr Mrazek, on a team that has twenty more losses than wins, has a save percentage of .910%.
  13. On that topic, Mrazek’s health has been a Godsend for a team besieged by injury. One can’t even imagine what would occur if he was out for some time.
  14. Jason Dickinson’s shot percentage has dropped a bit and likely will. But what a season he’s had.
  15. There were questions on whether Philipp Kurashev’s deal was a bit inflated this summer. He’s shown that’s not the case at all this season. .
  16. Kevin Korchinski will emerge as a major weapon as the roster takes on players who can allow for him utilize his offensive instincts.
  17. Cole Guttman, Colin Blackwell, Boris Katchouk and Joey Anderson all injected an energy into the team that helped keep them competitive in the face of overwhelming injuries.
  18. Connor Murphy has been a source of strength on the blue line–helping the younger players as they acclimated with the Blackhawks.
  19. Isaak Phillips has been strong at points. The final chunk of games will a go a long way in determining where he fits in long term with the team.
  20. Outside of Bedard, no one has been more important than Mrazek.

25 Quick Thoughts About the Front Office the Coaching Staff and Prospects

  1. Kyle Davidson’s plan of patiently building instead of rushing back to contention will work out in the end. As mentioned above, Bedard and Korchinski give them the foundational pieces to begin constructing around.
  2. The tricky work then comes an offseason from now, which will necessitate finding the bridge players who complement what should be a young but NHL talent.
  3. The Blackhawks sit with five picks in the first two rounds, including one that likely lands in the top three.
  4. Davidson will have a choice with a few of those picks knowing that he’ll have four more in the first two rounds next season. Does he hold onto all of them or use some of the draft capital to find a few of those permanent pieces faster?
  5. Such a move could potentially speed the rebuild up, but what he’s really doing is making sure the cap doesn’t become an issue as it did before.
  6. The two-year terms and higher dollar amounts make it where they pass the salary cap floor, but have the familiarity of known players back the younger core can trust and learn from.
  7. But for a contrarian argument on improving the team a bit quicker–losing is like dead weight and too much of it can drag a team down.
  8. Though Davidson said he won’t be as active on the trade market this year, and knowing as he pointed out that everyone is a fan of their own prospects, would adding a proven NHL pedigree help move things along in a wise–but faster fashion?
  9. Not only will every prospect not hit, but there will eventually be a logjam where there aren’t enough spots to accommodate all of the talent.
  10. Should the Blackhawks look into acquiring that talent prior to the offseason?
  11. Davidson’s and Mike Doneghey’s drafting is already paying major dividends. The likes of Oliver Moore, Frank Nazar, and Sam Rinzel continue to put up numbers. Korchinski is already in Chicago, which is a hit and potentially three others which would be a major win.
  12. But it’s their work in the later rounds that could bring in valuable pieces, too. Gavin Hayes and Nick Lardis are just a couple examples.
  13. But Stan Bowman and his previous regieme, for as poor as they were, found some talent in the later rounds, too. Ethan Del Mastro may become another important top six defenseman as his trajectory continues to point up.
  14. Landon Slaggert is another, posting career numbers in goals, and making next year’s rookie camp and preseason an interesting watch.
  15. Nazar is the one prospect I think makes the opening night lineup next season. If Michigan’s season ends earlier this year, he may even squeeze a few games in Chicago should he sign an entry-level deal.
  16. Sam Rinzel has enjoyed a massive upswing since returning from the World Juniors. In his last eight games, he has 12 assists. Prior? One goal and 10 assists. He’s likely to spend another season with Minnesota, but that offensive upside will certainly go a long way.
  17. Golden Gopher teammate Oliver Moore has 13 points in his last eight, including four goals. He had just 12 points before heading to the World Juniors.
  18. Ryan Greene had a goal the other night, looking like another real threat to fight for a spot at center in the future with 25 points (8-17) in 24 games.
  19. How about Paul Ludwinski? He’s bounced back nicely after being shut down near the end of end last year. Another speedy threat for the Hawks.
  20. Don’t forget about Ilya Safonov, , Drew Commesso, or Martin Misiak. All ahve
  21. Onto the staff – Luke Richardson cannot be judged until he has a full NHL roster to actually do something with.
  22. There has been so much patchwork due to injury, that Richardson has done a masterful job of keeping the Blackhawks going against teams they really have no business competing with on paper.
  23. It’s often meant sacrificing offense for a defensive scheme that prevents blowouts, but in spite of the losing, it’s kept the Blackhawks in games and given them chances to win.
  24. The lack of goal scoring has been the biggest culprit, something that could be a bigger issue as teams become more desperate to make the playoffs and are competing in a more “all-out” fashion.
  25. Credit Jimmy Waite for his work with Mrazek and Soderblom in what has been a tough season of the goalies often having to play all but perfect to maintain a victory or keep it from being a blowout.

5 Questions Heading Into the Next 32 Games and Beyond

  1. Can the Blackhawks win more than 10 games? (Won 14 in 50 so far; on pace for 22)
  2. Where will Bedard finish in terms of scoring this season?
  3. Would Kaapo Kakko be a guy to target and serve as a reclamation project?
  4. Could Reichel end up in Rockford if his lack of production continues?
  5. Can the Blackhawks get some lottery luck again in May?

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