Blackhawks

Blackhawks mailbag: Which prospect has best chance at making team out of training camp?

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Blackhawks Insiders
Blackhawks

Every Friday this offseason, Charlie Roumeliotis will look to answer your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition. 

Of all the prospects you've seen at development camp, which one impressed/intrigued you the most? 

And a follow-up, if you had to pick one prospect to make the team this season, who would it be?

The most intriguing prospect from development camp, for me, was Adam Boqvist because of how much his game has grown over the past year. When he got drafted No. 8 overall in 2018, Boqvist admitted he's probably 2-3 years away from becoming a full-time NHL player. But he looked more physically mature and has supreme confidence in himself and his game to make things interesting. He won't make the team out of training camp, but if his game continues to progress at a quick rate, it wouldn't be surprising to see him be up with the Blackhawks at some point this season.

As far as which prospect from development camp has the best chance at making the team out of training camp, if we're counting Alex Nylander, he'd be the guy. The Blackhawks are hoping they can unlock his full potential, but that'll be up to Nylander. If we're not including Nylander, given he's 21 years old and ahead of the development curve than everyone else, Kirby Dach is the obvious name to watch.

 

The first four overall picks from last year (Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Brady Tkachuk) made the immediate jump to the NHL and played a full season with their respective teams. Dach could too, and it doesn't hurt that there's an opening for the third-line center role. But again, it will come down to what Dach's role will be with the team. He's someone that's used to playing big minutes and in every situation. If he's going to be sheltered in Chicago, it would be more beneficial to send him back to juniors.

Every player is obviously different but do you see Toews and Kane re-upping their contracts once they expire or will they retire? 

Taking into consideration the Olympic medals + 3 cups (maybe more?), Toews would be 35 and Kane 34. 

Thanks!

Nick,

I fully expect Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to sign extensions with the Blackhawks after their contracts expire following the 2022-23 season. Kane will probably play into his 40s. He loves the game that much and takes great care of his body. Toews plays a more physically demanding style of hockey, but he's as competitive as they come. Both of them will still have lots of gas left in the tank to continue building on their Hall of Fame resumes.

Is Duncan happy he always seems grumpy during the interviews and post game?

Duncan Keith wears his emotions on his sleeve. That's evident when you watch him play hockey. He also hates to lose. Like, really, really hates to lose. The past few seasons have been difficult on him because he takes a lot of pride in being the best he can be and having success as a team.

When that's not happening, Keith can come across as grumpy. But he's always been a pro with the media. He's honest, but not pouty. A straight shooter, but respectful. Nobody wants to win more than Keith. If that starts to happen, you'll see more of that side of him again during postgame interviews.

Will Andrew Shaw contribute more offensively after last year in MTL? What are some point projections for players like Shaw, Strome, DeBrincat, Kane, Nylander, Dach/Boqvist?

Ian Tulloch of The Athletic wrote a piece last week listing 10 players who could be in for a regression this season. Andrew Shaw was ranked No. 1 on his list. His points-per-82 games average last season was 61 compared to his annual average of 33 over the course of his previous six seasons, and his 5-on-5 on-ice shooting percentage was at 11.5 when his career average is 7.1.

 

So yeah, it may be difficult for Shaw to top his 19-goal and 47-point season in 2019-20. 

But the Blackhawks didn't reacquire Shaw to become a big point producer. They brought him back to do the dirty work: win puck/board battles, be a pest in front of the net, stand up for his teammates, bring the group together both on and off the ice. All the things that don't necessarily appear on the scoresheet. Sometimes doing those things result in points, but he's not a playmaker and natural goal scorer. He's going to score his goals and collect his points in a greasy way. 

(Stay tuned for point projections on the others).

What do you think is Brendan Perlini's ceiling if he can stay consistent?

This is an interesting question because Perlini's consistency issues have followed him throughout his career and we still don't know just how good he can be if he can put it all together. The upside is obvious. He was drafted No. 12 overall in 2014 by Arizona and was projected to be a top-six scoring winger in the NHL.

A player comparable thrown out there during his junior days was Bobby Ryan, who's a four-time 30-goal scorer but has been known to go through long scoring slumps (and hot stretches) throughout his career. That's a fair comparison, although Perlini probably is who he is at this point: an effective middle-six winger who's capable of playing in the top six but doesn't produce on a consistent enough basis to stay there.

In a vacuum the Hawks have improved but when you look at the rest of the division’s moves and the Blues proving to be a force, do you think they’ll even improve on last season’s position in the Central?

The Blackhawks may have missed the playoffs last season by only six points despite everything that went on (coaching change, two eight-game losing streaks, Corey Crawford injury, 31st-ranked defense and penalty kill, etc.), but Patrick Kane put things into perspective at the Blackhawks Convention when asked about the offseason moves:

"We want to be in the playoffs, but it's not like because we have a better team all of a sudden you're guaranteed a spot," he said. "We have to go about the progressions, we have to go through training camp, we have to go through preseason, we have to go over to Europe to have a good start to the season over there."

This is what the Central Division looked like last season:

1. Nashville (100 points)
2. Winnipeg (99 points)
3. St. Louis (99 points)
4. Dallas (93 points)
5. Colorado (90 points)
6. Chicago (84 points)
7. Minnesota (83 points)

Let's just assume five teams will come out of the division again this season. Which team is falling out of the picture? Colorado and Dallas got better this summer. St. Louis is the defending Stanley Cup champions and could be due for a hangover, but enough to slip off the grid entirely? There are question marks surrounding Nashville and Winnipeg, but you figure they'll at least be competitive enough to remain in the hunt.

 

So while the Blackhawks' point total may increase, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll slide into one of those eight spots. Columbus was the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference at 98 points. Colorado was the No. 8 seed in the West at 90 points. The latter was probably an anomaly. The Blackhawks might need at least 96 points to get into the dance this season. That's a 14-point improvement.

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