As our Chicago Blackhawks writing team prepares for another weekly episode of Blackhawks Banter, brought to you by The Hockey Writers Live every Monday, we wanted to give you a sneak peek. For this upcoming show, we’ll talk about how we’d improve upon Stan Bowman’s offseason, Lukas Reichel’s projected impact at the World Juniors, and some tough roster choices surrounding Chicago’s young stars.
There will be more to look forward to during the live taping, as this is just a taste of what to expect. If you haven’t already, we suggest you subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us across social media so you’re sure to be in the know.
My name is Shaun Filippelli and I’ll be your host this week. Joining me will be Gail Kauchak, Greg Boysen, and Brooke LoFurno. Let’s get right into it, to see what we can look forward to discussing and debating on Monday’s show.
Biggest Offseason Loser
NBC Sports recently released a write-up covering their assessment of the winners and losers from this past offseason. They looked at things like trades, contracts, and general roster revisions. Some organizations that made the list include the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres, Vegas Golden Knights, and even the Blackhawks.
Unfortunately, for the Blackhawks, they were the only team of those noted above to be labeled as losers in it all. NBC isolated the trading of Brandon Saad as their primary reasoning, noting that it’s now the third time Chicago has lost a trade involving him. Beyond gaining Nikita Zadorov in exchange for Saad, other moves include re-signing Dominik Kubalik to a two-year deal, letting Corey Crawford walk, seeing Drake Caggiula enter free agency, and acquiring Lucas Wallmark and Mattias Janmark.
When reflecting on their offseason thus far, if you could have one do-over for how a specific scenario played out, how would you re-write it? Or, if you’d create a whole new script, what more would you do?
This offseason has been pretty “blah” for Blackhawks fans. We were told the team is going into rebuild mode, yet they are not doing the things a team that is truly tearing it down and starting over does. I guess if I had to do one move over it would be the Saad trade.
I would still trade him, but I’d move him for prospects and/or draft picks. Nothing personal against Zadorov, who might be great for the Blackhawks, but a team who is rebuilding doesn’t trade for middle-pair defensemen who will be 26 when the season finally starts.
I was pretty upset with the Saad trade. While Saad isn’t a flashy player, he’s a consistent two-way forward that does a lot of things right and has a physical edge. He made the Blackhawks a better team, and he will be missed. That being said, he was overpaid at $6 million a year. This is why he was such an excellent candidate for the Blackhawks to trade him and salvage some money. I think they could have gotten more for him by keeping him around and then moving him at the trade deadline before the playoffs. But I digress because this isn’t my answer.
If I was to have one do-over from the offseason moves, I would have Corey Crawford agree to a one-year contract for $3.5 million. It’s my understanding the reason the Blackhawks and Crawford couldn’t come to an agreement was over the term of a contract. Crawford wanted at least two years, and the Blackhawks were only willing to bet on him for one year.
But man, if Crow would have agreed! Then the Blackhawks would have a valuable commodity in net for one more season. The two-time Cup winning champ proved he still has it at the end of the 2019-20 season and through their short playoff run. He could have held down the fort this season and mentored Collin Delia, setting up the younger netminder to take over full-time in the 2021-22 season.
Instead, Delia is going to be thrown to the wolves with no transition period. It could work out, or it could get really ugly. I guess we won’t know until the season plays out. It will be interesting to see how Delia fares, and how Crawford does with his new team, the New Jersey Devils.
I would re-do the Crawford situation. It should have never come to losing him in free agency, to begin with. I think the team letting the goaltender situation turn this fragile, with no clear solution, contributes to their “losing” offseason.
I haven’t shied away from expressing my confusion when it comes to how acquiring Zadorov aligns with Chicago’s plans to develop. However, I’ll take this in another direction, focusing on how I’d improve upon something they actually did well in the first place.
Re-signing Kubalik was essential for this franchise. I just wish they had more foresight to lock him in for longer. I don’t see his initial success as a fluke and feel as though getting him committed for only two years could be a mistake. I’d have worked to secure a four or five-year deal for somewhere between $2.5 and $3 million per. Then, Kubalik sticks around through his prime and when the team is hopefully ready to win again.
Germany Relies on Reichel
We’ve talked a lot about Kirby Dach joining Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championships. Covering our thoughts on his invite, how we think he’ll perform, and his impressive start to camp. However, he’s not the only Blackhawk who will be participating in this important tournament.
Lukas Reichel, Chicago’s first-round pick from the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, will be suiting up for Germany for the second year in a row. He earned five points in seven contents in last year’s showing, which had him tied for third in point totals on his team. Although Germany may be widely considered as an underdog, the rest of the world is catching up to the few nations who often dominate. Every game matters.
With that said, how do you predict Reichel will perform in the upcoming World Juniors and can he be impactful enough to help Germany win more than the one game they were able to last year?
I am really looking forward to watching Reichel play at the WJC. I haven’t seen much of him except for the highlight packages on YouTube and everybody is a superstar in those. He will have some good talent up front with him as Germany is expecting to have Tim Stützle, who was just drafted third overall by the Ottawa Senators.
John-Jason Peterka, who was taken with the 34th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres, is also on the roster. The team would have been far more competitive had the Detroit Red Wings allowed Mortiz Seider to play. Germany will be an underdog for most of the tournament so it will be fun to watch how Reichel and his teammates react.
Reichel will be entering this tournament with an abundance of confidence since it’s his second year there, and after being drafted 17th overall in the NHL 2020 Draft. I would expect him to lead the way, as he’s known for his tenacity and strong work ethic. This will be his chance to shine on a big stage and show the world it was no fluke he was drafted in the top 20.
Last year he boasted three goals and two assists in seven games. I’d like to see him surpass both those totals, and of course, see if he can lead his team to a few more wins.
Germany will certainly be an underdog team, but everyone loves to root for the underdog. They will have to come out of the gates ready to go, as they face Team Finland (placed fourth last year and won the tournament in 2019) on December 25 and the powerhouse Team Canada (defending 2020 champions) on December 26. I will certainly be watching with some extra interest to see how Reichel and Team Germany fare.
Considering his history in past tournaments, I expect him to be a consistent goal scorer throughout the tournament. Last year, with the Germany U20 team, he had five points in seven games. So I think with goal scoring and skating ability, I think he will be very impactful in helping Germany advance higher than they did last year.
Reichel’s stock is set to rise, following his positive first impressions with this franchise. After being selected by the Blackhawks, he was quick to proclaim his lifelong fandom for the team and that Patrick Kane was his favorite player. Certainly, some facts that put him front and center for all the right reasons.
Beyond that, Reichel has been praised by Chicago’s scouting staff as tops in their prospect pool in a number of categories. His speed, skill, and smarts will combine nicely with increased confidence after being drafted to his childhood team. It’s tough to say how well Germany will fare overall, but Reichel will surely keep them competitive the whole way through. I expect his production and impact to increase.
Start, Bench, Trade
As we often resort to, playing general manager or coach for this team seems to be an effective way to alleviate the frustrations we feel with those who actually do so in real life. Even if it’s just temporary relief. Keeping things seemingly light, we’ll take a stab at making some tough decisions to see how we’d reshape this current roster.
Let’s make it simple and straightforward for this preview post. Save your explanation for our live discussion on Monday night’s episode of Blackhawks Banter, so our viewers can take part in the genuine reactions and rationalizations that are sure to follow.
With that said, slot the following athletes accordingly. You’ll start one in the opening night lineup, another will be on the bench waiting to hit the ice, while it makes the most sense for this team to trade the third. The players: Adam Boqvist, Dach, and Kubalik. It’s decision time.
Stay Tuned for More
Hopefully, our preview has piqued your interest as there is a lot more banter to get into with our Blackhawks writing crew. Whether we agree with each other or not, we always look forward to talking hockey together and having you there alongside us.
In anticipation of Episode 4, take a look back and enjoy last week’s show. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us across all major social media platforms, to stay up to date on all things Blackhawks. Tune in this Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. CT.