The Chicago Blackhawks have seen many players move on to new franchises over the last few years. This isn’t all that surprising, as the Blackhawks have been trying to build the correct roster to become a playoff team again. With it now being 2022, it feels like the perfect to go over a few former Blackhawks who are having very good seasons, as well as others who are struggling.
Having a Good Year: Brandon Saad (St. Louis Blues)
During the offseason, Brandon Saad signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the St. Louis Blues. He had 15 goals and 24 points with the Colorado Avalanche the season before, so he came into this campaign with high expectations. Thus far, he hasn’t been disappointing, as he already has 12 goals in 29 games. Yet, the one negative worth noting is that he only has three assists to go along with it. If he can improve in that area, it could become an even better campaign for the 29-year-old.
Still, though, it’s fair to say that Saad is performing well when looking at his goal-scoring. The Blackhawks would love to have that kind of production in their lineup again, but another reunion with the Pittsburgh native won’t be happening any time soon. Maybe they can explore this avenue again when his contract with St. Louis expires.
Struggling: Malcolm Subban (Buffalo Sabres)
When the Blackhawks acquired Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban became the odd man out. Due to this, he began the season with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League (AHL). Yet, with the Buffalo Sabres in desperate need of a goaltender, Chicago sent the 28-year-old there last month in exchange for future considerations. This, in turn, allowed him to have a job at the NHL level again.
However, Subban’s stint with the Sabres has not been off to the best of starts. In three appearances thus far, he has a 0-2-1 record, 4.56 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage. The sample size has been small, so there is time for him to turn things around. Yet, he will have to get on that quickly, or he could find himself back in the AHL once the Sabres get healthier.
Having a Good Year: Adam Boqvist (Columbus Blue Jackets)
When the Blackhawks acquired Seth Jones during the offseason, defenseman Adam Boqvist was one of the main pieces that went back the other way. The 2018 eighth overall pick was once viewed as a long-term part of the Blackhawks’ future. But now, he’s making his case to be that for the Blue Jackets. In his first 20 games with his new team, he has an impressive seven goals to go along with four assists.
There’s no question that Boqvist has the potential to be a very special defenseman in this league. In his 76-game tenure with the Blackhawks, he scored six goals and recorded 29 points. That kind of production was quite solid from the back end already, but one also has to remember that he is still just 21 years old, too. Therefore, we likely haven’t seen the best of him yet. Let’s see how he performs as this season continues.
Struggling: Brendan Perlini (Edmonton Oilers)
After playing the 2020-21 season with HC Ambri-Piotta of the National League in Switzerland, Brendan Perlini returned to the NHL and signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Edmonton Oilers this past summer. After an excellent preseason, the 25-year-old made the NHL roster. However, he has since struggled mightily with them, as he has just a goal and an assist in 16 games. With that, he also was waived and suited up in two games with the Bakersfield Condors.
After the Blackhawks acquired Perlini from the Arizona Coyotes during the 2018-19 season, he showed signs that he could be a legitimate third-line winger. In 46 contests, he scored 12 goals and had three assists. However, since then, he only has two goals and six points over his last 56 NHL games. If he is unable to bounce back with Edmonton from here, his time in the sport’s most competitive league may come to a close permanently.
Having a Good Year: Gustav Forsling (Florida Panthers)
Gustav Forsling has been fantastic for the Florida Panthers this season. After a 17-point campaign in 43 games with the team last season, he now has 15 assists in just 27 games. With his increase of offensive production, he has also stayed defensively responsible, as evidenced by his plus-10 rating. Overall, the 25-year-old has been a feel-good story for the Panthers since getting claimed off waivers by them before the start of last season.
In 122 career games with the Blackhawks, Forsling had eight goals and 27 points. Needless to say, he never came close to the kind of production he’s reaching at this time. However, even though they likely regret letting him go, the same can be said about the Carolina Hurricanes. In their case, they were forced to waive him because of their strong defensive depth. At least in the Blackhawks’ situation, they acquired Calvin de Haan and Aleksi Saarela for him. That’s better than nothing.
Struggling: Henri Jokiharju (Buffalo Sabres)
Henri Jokiharju is another young defenseman the Blackhawks parted ways with in a surprising fashion — they traded him to the Sabres for Alex Nylander before the start of the 2019-20 season. It’s a trade that hasn’t worked out for the Blackhawks, as the 23-year-old winger is currently playing for the IceHogs. Jokiharju, on the other hand, is a mainstay on the Sabres’ blue line.
However, the 2021-22 regular season hasn’t been too kind to Jokiharju. At this juncture, he has a goal and five points in 17 games. With that, he also carries a minus-5 rating. The 22-year-old hasn’t been awful, but it’s fair to argue that he’s been underwhelming. While playing top-pair minutes, he hasn’t taken that next step in his development, but especially when it comes to his offense. Perhaps as the season progresses, this will change. The potential has always been there, but the clock is ticking.
One other player worth briefly discussing is former longtime Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith. Overall, it’s been a pretty decent year for the 38-year-old. In 24 games, he has a goal, eight points, and an even rating. Yet, when looking at the seasons other former Blackhawks have put up, it felt more justifiable to discuss them.
As for the others, it will be intriguing to see how they perform as this season continues. Could some of these players rebound and others cool off? Ultimately, even though they are no longer playing for Chicago, all we can do is sincerely hope they are enjoying their current teams.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.