Dear Santa: Blackhawks’ 2022 Team Wish List

With Christmas approaching, there’s no better time to reflect and think of some holiday wishes for the Chicago Blackhawks. At 7-20-4, they’ve lost 16 of their last 17 games and sit last in the NHL standings. Like it or not, this is what management signed up for, as tough as it might be to swallow. There’s no doubt the Blackhawks would have many wishes if they wrote a list to Santa Claus, but here are four things they need the most.

More Scoring

A lack of offence is one of the biggest reasons behind the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak. The team has scored a league-low 70 goals this season and they’ve scored three or more goals in just three of their last 12 games. It’s led to head coach Luke Richardson getting creative with his forward group, such as briefly moving Sam Lafferty to the top line and periodically mixing up the bottom-six, but his changes have led to limited success.

Related: Dear Santa: Blackhawks 2022 Player Wish List

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The Blackhawks are absolutely bad by design. But for an offense that was so entertaining during their 4-2-0 stretch earlier this season, as unsustainable as it might’ve been, it sure would be nice to see more scoring. Patrick Kane, for instance, has just 22 points in 31 games, a significant drop-off in production for someone who’s averaged more than a point per game over the last four seasons.

Fortunately, the team got some good news this week, as Tyler Johnson returned to the lineup. Chicago could also make a call-up at any time from the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Rockford IceHogs. The Blackhawks can ultimately still tank and land a high draft pick while scoring some more goals, which should be a wish, as it relates to their current roster.

Continued Prospect Development

Chicago had one of the league’s worst prospect pipelines, just a year ago. That’s no longer the case, and while there’s still room for growth, there’s also a decent foundation. The Blackhawks have some great young pieces such as Lukas Reichel, Kevin Korchinski, and Frank Nazar, giving fans a glimmer of hope after so many years without a direction and a below-average pipeline.

Lukas Reichel Chicago Blackhawks
Lukas Reichel, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Because the rebuild’s still early, it’s probably going to be another few years before the Blackhawks’ next competitive core takes shape. However, many players are making an impact with the IceHogs and other organizations right now who could help the next competitive Chicago squad, from Reichel to defensive prospects Ethan Del Mastro, Alec Regula, and Alex Vlasic.

With new faces still to come via trades and the draft, continued prospect development would only further help Chicago’s rebuild. Not every top prospect will be a sure thing, but the club’s pipeline is looking solid and will likely only improve moving forward.

Trade Deadline Luck

The Blackhawks have eight pending unrestricted free agents (UFA) after this season. With the team in rebuild mode, it’s possible that most, if not all, of those players could be off the roster come deadline day. That said, it doesn’t sound like Chicago general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson will make deals just for the sake of moving assets. For example, the club is reportedly aiming for high picks should they move Max Domi and/or Andreas Athanasiou (from ‘Blackhawks rebuild: What I’m hearing about Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews trades and more,’ The Athletic, 12/06/22).

Related: 3 Potential Trade Destinations for Blackhawks’ Max Domi

The big X-factors, of course, are Kane and Jonathan Toews. With so much speculation over the last year, team management is reportedly planning to meet with both players shortly after Christmas or early in the new year to discuss their futures (from ‘LeBrun rumblings: Potential timing on a Patrick Kane trade, plus could Bunting get 8 years?’ The Athletic, 10/17/22). It’s no guarantee both players waive their no-movement clauses (NMC); however, if they did, a trade would likely be inevitable.

Regardless of who the Blackhawks move, the team should simply wish for some good luck when it comes to potential deals. Just like the Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach trades this past summer, it could take years to determine whether this deadline becomes a win for Davidson. However, a successful deadline should still be a wish for players and fans alike, even if results take a while to arrive.

A Top-2 Draft Pick

OK, this is obvious. But it has to be said: the Blackhawks could definitely use a top-two pick next summer to get fans excited and accelerate their rebuild. With all due respect to Reichel and Korchinski, who could both become above-average, All-Star-caliber players, they don’t exactly move the needle like a Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli would.

Should the Blackhawks land one of these players, it would be a massive win for the franchise. It wouldn’t make them contenders overnight, but it would create hype around the club it hasn’t seen since the mid-2010s or at least their brief playoff run in 2020. They’d give fans a reason to watch and would make the rebuild more enjoyable, especially if Kane and/or Toews are gone.

Kyle Davidson Chicago Blackhawks
Kyle Davidson Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite their success in the 2010s, the Blackhawks weren’t great with prospect development during that time frame. Only over the last year or so has their farm system improved. Bedard or Fantilli would improve an already good pipeline while giving the team a potential generational talent and more hope for the future.

The Blackhawks have many issues with their current roster. The losing will continue, and fans should brace for a long winter. Having said that, the team’s only in year one of the rebuild. Time will tell whether Santa Claus brings these gifts, but they’d surely make a tough situation better for the club and its fans.

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