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Blackhawks Two Truths and a Lie: Offseason Grades and Playoff Hopes

Offseason Grades? Playoff Hopes? It’s time for some 2 Truths and a Lie as the offseason rolls on

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As the summer chugs ahead and we get closer to the dog day doldrums of the offseason, how about a Blackhawks Two Truths and a Lie to keep things going.

Kyle Davidson has been a busy man between the draft and free agency, working to provide the Blackhawks a chance at a leap forward next season. The draft, outside of Artyom Levshunov, really won’t come to fruition in terms of what can be gauged until a few years out. But free agency? It’ll hit pretty quickly.

So today’s Blackhawks Two Truths and a Lie looks at those grades and whether my God, the Hawks can be in the playoff conversation.

Truth: Kyle Davidson Gets an A for His Offseason Moves

Here’s the caveat–I don’t think he’s done yet, either. Another move or two might be coming especially since last year, injury beat up the roster at what seemed like Biblical proportions. The A+ move was getting Laurent Brossoit, who will allow the Blackhawks to not have to play perfect hockey when Petr Mrazek has a night off. The steady one-two punch in the net is good for at least another five wins, albeit it that both Mrazek and Brassoit have similar performances from last season. Another key signing? Alec Martinez, who brings in valuable leadership and game tested experience to bring the team along. A pairing with Kevin Korchinski will allow the second-year pro more latitude to push his offensive instincts more. Tyler Bertuzzi and Teuvo Teravainen cement the top-six forwards and can be slotted up or down where necessity dictates.

TJ Brodie didn’t have a second half of the season as one would have hoped but there will be a lot less pressure in Chicago which will allow him to play his role and rebound to what he showed in the first half. Craig Smith put up 11 goals and will be a bottom six option while Pat Maroon figures to be the guy chipping in while clearing out shenanigans brewing on the ice.

Depth was a focus and Davidson delivered, leading us to the second truth.

Truth: The Likes of Frank Nazar and Ethan Del Mastro Will Push For an Opening Night Spot

Both had a cup of coffee at the end of the season and both should make a compelling case to stay in that lineup when the Blackhawks open their season in Utah October 8th. Of course, they’re going to have beat out a steady group of veterans. The CHN spoiler alert here is that I have Nazar and Del Mastro as the top two prospects in the Blackhawks system right now, and while time in Rockford would be beneficial, expect a hell of a push from both as the preseason continues on.

The other side of this argument, of course, is that as Davidson mentioned during development camp, the Blackhawks are looking for the best version of each player without rushing progress. No joke–a Levshunov-Del Mastro combo in Rockford could be the makings of a pairing in the vein of Keith-Seabrook. Nazar playing more minutes in Rockford in a top-six role instead of playing eight-nine as a bottom six in the NHL also makes a ton of sense.

Make no mistake, Chicago wins no matter what is decided. But expect both of the Hawks’ top prospects to force head coach Luke Richardson and Davidson’s hand as they’re making final decisions in early October.

Lie: The Blackhawks Can Be a Playoff Team

An optimist by nature, even I can’t get on board with this one yet. The Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin wrote about how the Hawks could surprise by pushing for a playoff spot in 2024-25.  By no means is Larkin saying they will make the playoffs–but there’s an argument to be had.

Surprise, however, is the appropriate word because while the team will certainly be improved, the West and especially the Central have also gotten much better. Nashville has positioned itself to be a Stanley Cup contender. Dallas, Winnipeg, and Colorado will be playing musical chairs at the top of the division. Utah addressed issues on its blue line, and the Blues are likely to hover around their 92 point mark as well.

That’s five teams–just in the division. The team formally known as the Arizona Coyotes notched 77 points and improved its roster on top of that finish. Yes, the Blackhawks were historically bad but for the sake of argument, let’s put Utah at 90 points. To match that, Chicago would have to see a 38-point increase. Don’t forget either that the Wild put up 87 points last season.

That’s just for 90 points–without including the Pacific Division yet.

Vegas snuck into the playoffs with 98 points–which is eight points more than the baseline just set. Of last season’s eight playoff participants, only the Predators, Kings (99 points) and Vegas had less than 100.

Even if the threshold for points drops say by four points, the compete level is going to be the cause for that. So those 96 points, give or take, will be even tougher to come by.

The Blackhawks are certainly improved and will be playing more meaningful hockey heading into the second half of the season. But playoff talk is likely a bit premature as improvement has been widespread around the conference and division.

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