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Blackhawks Stock Index: In the Absence of Connor Bedard

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The Blackhawks are definitely a different team with Connor Bedard in the lineup. Heck, even the veterans admit it.

“Not too often does an 18-year-old come in and have this kind of an impact on a team,” Dickinson said.  “It’s very few players that have the opportunity to do something like that, and it’s even fewer that take that opportunity and run with it. He’s a special player, demands a lot of himself and it shows in his play. He’s going out there and making it happen.”

In his absence, the Blackhawks struggled to get on the scoresheet but there were some who held their own. While the Blackhawks have now scored seven goals in the three games since his return, these numbers reveal some more information that could shed light on the future.

Knowing Chicago has scored over a third of its goal total in three games compared to the total in his 14-game absence, there’s no denying his importance.

Let’s dig in and see how those numbers shook out individually.

Blackhawks That Rose to the Challenge Without Connor Bedard

Here’s a look at how scoring broke down when Bedard. There are a number of interesting notes to glean from how the team did in Bedard’s absence but it shows that a lot of the guys benefitting from him now did just fine in his absence, too.

Philipp Kurashev has absolutely been one of the major benefactors since his linemate returned but he did just fine on his own, too. In fact, if there’s anything that became more clear in this time, it was that his defensive game has also been stellar when it comes to helping the team. Further, any doubt that the two-year deal for Jason Dickinson wasn’t sound can be dismissed seing that he led the team in points and was tied with Nick Foligno in goals.

Dickinson, of the players that general manager Kyle Davidson acquired via trade as a “castoff,” is likely his greatest heist only second to Petr Mrazek. Dickinson’s efforts, numbers, and leadership may very well mark him as one of the main contributors to this team for years to come. Another intesting note–how about Seth Jones? One player constantly harangued due to his high cap hit, Jones has not only been key defensively, but chipped in offensively as injuries affected the lineup. Those numbers will improve as the talent on the roster follows suit.

A final one–Colin Blackwell. He’s making a strong case to be brought back as his deal expires after this season, but he’s a pest on the ice. Be it physically, chasing down a defenseman on the forecheck, or disrupting a scoring chance, Blackwell embodies the gritty, hard nosed hockey the Blackhawks are baking into their cultural DNA.

Some Hawks Who Fell a Bit More

Taylor Raddysh’s slump this season wasn’t ever more apparent than during this stretch. Of the 56 games, he’s played 51 and registered just 11 points (5-11). He has just one assist in his last 18 games and four assists if you extend it out to his last 20 games.

Last season, Raddysh looked as if he would breakout following a 20-goal performance. Those hopes have been stymied as he enters an arbitration year. From the eye test, Raddysh has appeared as snake bitten as Lukas Reichel, sometimes having golden opportunities get deflected or end up right in the goalie’s glove. One other little note – last year’s 20-goal season came with a shot percentage of 15.5% while this year’s comes with a 5.8% rate. That marks a career low for Raddysh.

Reichel also comes to mind as he was sent to Rockford on Sunday to try and ignite his game. A moment where he could have risen to the challenge by taking ice time, Reichel could never really get going. Of course the hope now is he can hone the skills that got him to Chicago and return recharged and as the player the Blackhawks hoped he would be. But it’s still a bit premature to label his trajectory–time is ticking though.

One other side note–for a team that has a glut of defenseman in the pipeline, Isaak Phillips being the odd man out for the past few games might be revealing some thinking there. It’s not to say that he’s definitively on the outside looking in, but he didn’t establish himself as a mainstay with the time that he had. Some of that may very well be the veteran presence Luke Richardson has at his disposal.

But Phillips is one of many young defenseman trying to make his case to be a mainstay.

Of course, the Blackhawks will be a better team with Connor Bedard. But it’s important to see who rose to the top in his absence as the team continues to sort out who will stay and who will go as roster space will become a more competitive reality in Chicago.

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