Blackhawks

After Alex DeBrincat signs extension with Blackhawks, is Dylan Strome next?

After Alex DeBrincat signs extension with Blackhawks, is Dylan Strome next?

GM Stan Bowman had a busy offseason, revamping the Blackhawks’ roster through trades and free-agent signings. But all of those moves were carefully executed knowing full well that the entry-level contracts of Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome expire following the 2019-20 season.

Bowman got out in front of DeBrincat’s on Thursday — one day before the season started — by inking the 40-goal scorer to a three-year extension worth $6.4 million annually. It’s a deal that’s a win-win for both sides, with DeBrincat getting his big raise and the Blackhawks locking him up for a number that doesn’t break the bank.

So with DeBrincat’s extension taken care of, is Strome next?

The tricky part about Strome's negotiation is that his sample size isn't very large (with the Blackhawks, that is). And his production with Chicago is day and night compared to his time with the Coyotes.

In 48 games with Arizona, Strome compiled 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) and bounced around the NHL and AHL. In 58 games with Chicago, he registered 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists). That’s close to a point-per-game average.

Bowman wasn’t giving any hints as to when a deal could get done with Strome but acknowledged that’s next on the agenda.

"I don't anticipate negotiating through the press with Dylan either and I think that was a nice thing with Alex, you guys kind of left us alone with that one, so I would suggest to do the same thing," Bowman joked with the media. "But we have time on that. Certainly that's the next order of business. Whether we do it now or in a month or in six months, I can't say at this point, but certainly that's something we'll take a look at."

Could Strome see it happening in a similar fashion as DeBrincat by getting it out of the way with?

It would probably benefit Strome to play out the season to prove that he can be the player that was drafted but No. 3 overall in 2015. But with DeBrincat taking a relatively team-friendly deal in the short term, perhaps Strome will follow suit. 

"I haven't really thought too much about that," Strome said. "I'm just looking forward to the season. It's a long ways away so we'll see what happens."

Like DeBrincat, Strome is more focused on the overall success of his team than his next contract. They haven’t gotten a taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs yet and history shows you get rewarded with postseason success. That’s where Strome is at mentally.

"I think everyone's different," Strome said when asked if his second contract weighs on his mind. "Just not think about it too much. Obviously we're getting paid to play this game and it's a privilege, so go out there and try to have fun every day and win for our team. When the team does well usually individuals do well so I think you just got to look at it that way. Hopefully this team can make the playoffs and I think everything will work itself out."

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Alex DeBrincat joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

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USA TODAY

Alex DeBrincat joins the Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Throughout the 2019-20 season, NBC Sports Chicago will be unveiling its Blackhawks All-Decade Team. The roster will feature the 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goaltenders that made the biggest impact on the franchise from the 2010 through 2019 seasons.

Less than two and a half seasons was all we needed to see from Alex DeBrincat, a highly-skilled and crafty winger for the Blackhawks, who's usually looking to shoot instead of pass. 

DeBrincat was one of the biggest steals from the NHL Draft in recent years. The Hawks taking him in the second round, No. 39 overall, of the 2016 draft changed the way teams selected players.

There's been less hesitation for GMs to pick forwards around DeBrincat's height (5-foot-7) if they're point-producing machines with strong vision and skating. Right out of the gate, the 21-year-old recorded 28 goals for his rookie campaign during the 2017-18 season and followed it up with 41 last year.

"The Cat" has seen a dip in production tallying 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 32 games so far this season, but expect that to pick up.

DeBrincat has utilized his size in being able to sneak by defensemen and find open areas in the offensive zone like the left circle, where he's rifled in a lot of his goals with the Hawks. The Farmington Hills, Michigan native has 151 points (77 goals, 74 assists) in 196 games with Chicago.

He hasn't hoisted the cup or even played one playoff game yet with the Blackhawks, but if/when he does reach the postseason in his career, he'll be a reason why his team got there and will surely be a difference maker.

Alex's chemistry (and interesting friendship) with old Erie Otter (OHL) pal Dylan Strome, as well as with Patrick Kane, amplify the forward's strengths and make him even more fun to watch. 

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Struggling Blackhawks still trying to find a path forward

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AP

Struggling Blackhawks still trying to find a path forward

ST. LOUIS — One year ago today, the Blackhawks were enjoying an off-day after snapping their second eight-game losing streak of the season with a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Adjustments were still being made under new head coach Jeremy Colliton, but there was at least some optimism that light would be at the end of the tunnel once they all got on the same page.

The Blackhawks have an off-day on Friday, but they’re in a much different place this time around. And not in a good way.

After losing for the ninth time in 12 games (3-7-2) and third straight (0-2-1), the Blackhawks are making standings watching irrelevant in Chicago in a year where it shouldn’t be. Their playoff chances are slipping away quicker than an odd-man rush and nobody wants to start looking ahead to the 2020 NHL Draft class because they shouldn’t be in this position again.

The inconsistency issues are real, the injuries continue to mount, the losses are getting uglier and the schedule is only getting tougher. The Blackhawks aren’t just losing hockey games. They’re not even giving themselves a chance. 

In their last six losses, the Blackhawks have been outscored 29-11 for a minus-18 goal differential. They’ve given up at least five goals in four of them and have one regulation win since Nov. 17.

And it’s hard to see how it can get better.

The easiest in-season change to make when a team with playoff expectations is underperforming is to change the voice and message the players are listening to. But the Blackhawks played that card last season.

In 2015-16, the Blackhawks deservedly earned a pass for running out of gas in the first round after coming off a season in which they captured a third Stanley Cup in six years.

In 2016-17, the Blackhawks called being swept in the first round by Nashville as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference a "wake-up call" and promised changes.

In 2017-18, the Blackhawks pointed to Corey Crawford’s season-ending injury in December as a reason for their second-half spiral.

In 2018-19, the Blackhawks preached patience after making a coaching change for the first time in 10 years.

In 2019-20, there is no excuse. The Blackhawks had another long offseason to get it right and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were coming off career statistical seasons at age 30. The roster is better but the product on the ice hasn’t changed.

The tide eventually might turn for the Blackhawks, but right now it's difficult to see a path for how it will.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.