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Kyle Davidson Vowed To Improve the Blackhawks–and He Certainly Delivered

The Blackhawks General Manager said that things needed to change back in April. A week’s worth of work showed he meant what he said.

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The Chicago Blackhawks were already another step forward in its rebuild when they drafted Artyom Levshunov last Friday with the second overall pick in Las Vegas. Three days later, Kyle Davidson went on a free agent signing bonanza, inking seven new faces and targeting areas where the Blackhawks desperately needed help.

All of this because Davidson on down knew that in order to move forward, Chicago needed players who could step right in and contribute.

“We want to be better,” Davidson said.  “We want to be able to go into games and impose ourselves on a game more than we have in the past, rather than trying to stem the tide or having teams take it to us. We want to be able to play with the puck more and control the game a little more and obviously get more wins as a result. I believe it’s our ability to impose ourselves on the game more than we have, certainly the last two years.”

What a difference a week makes.

Historically Bad Blackhawks Primed For a Jump Next Season

The Blackhawks had one additional loss (53) than points (52) in 2023-24.  The 179 goals for were the lowest in franchise history in an 82-game season. So when it comes to bottom of the barrel, there isn’t much further for the team to go.

Injuries and a lack of depth ravaged the Blackhawks, who put together a .500 month in March. Then April happened, where they staggered to a 1-6-1 finish, which included a gut wrenching loss to end the season. While March saw seven wins, the months bookending it accounted for a dismal record of 2-12-4.

So can anyone blame Davidson for spending upwards of $25M to improve the roster? No more will there be eleventh hour trades or plucking players off of waivers. There’s been a deliberate attempt to not only take care of the upcoming season–but the ones in the future, too.

“We had to fill holes through desperation trade or waiver claim and those players filled in very well and they did a very good job for us,” Davidson told the media Friday afternoon.  “But when you’re signing  players in free agency right in the start of the UFA season, it’s just a different level of player, so that’s exciting about that.

I believe we’ve got a position where we can be responsible with development and we can create roster competition, accountability, raise the level of our NHL team, but also protect against things like we saw last year.”

Just signing Tyler Bertuzzi and Teuvo Teravainen accounted for a surplus of 45 goals they didn’t have last season. To put that into context: ten other Blackhawk forwards combined for 45 goals. Six others (Connor Bedard, Jason Dickinson, Philipp Kurashev, Nick Foligno, Tyler Johnson and Ryan Donato) tallied the lionshare of markers with 108 goals.

Take away Johnson, who has yet to be signed by another team, and it’s still a net gain of four goals for Bertuzzi and eight from Teravainen.

Kyle Davidson went out and addressed that need quickly. But he snagged defensemen and a backup goalie in Laurent Brassoit who gives Petr Mrazek some help and a two-headed tandem of strong netminding.

So yes, Davidson is a man of his word and it looks a hell of a lot better on paper.

Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks Positioned for a Big Step Forward

Patience must be forefront in a rebuild of any kind. At the same time, there needs to be measured success as time marches on. This week marked that first real step forward for the Blackhawks where some critical players were added to the roster. 

So on paper, yes, it all seemingly adds up to a far improved team. Not playoff level, but it will allow the younger players to develop organically–or if they’re ready–fight for the spot that is rightly their’s in Chicago. With an improved roster, the win total should improve with it.

If indeed those projections above ring true, it’s a 25-point increase. Amidst that optimism though sees a division chock full of improvement, too. By those numbers, five of the eight playoff teams in the West would come from the Central Division.

But that’s getting too far ahead. Alec Martinez believes the team will be better than some think. After the week he had, Kyle Davidson would be pretty sure to agree.

Now we wait until the Fall to see if what looks much better on paper transfers over to the ice.

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