The Chicago Blackhawks have three points in two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning as they start their toughest month of the season. This week, our crew of Greg Boysen, Brooke LoFurno, Shaun Filippelli, and Gail Kauchak will discuss just where we think the Blackhawks will at the end of the month and how they should approach the trade deadline. Plus, we start with our takes on whether or not the team’s all-time goals record is in jeopardy or not.
How Far Will Patrick Kane Go?
We didn’t get much time to talk about Kane’s 400-goal milestone on last week’s episode. He is currently fourth on the Blackhawks all-time goals list. He will pass Steve Larmer, who had 406 goals, relatively soon. The next two guys on the list are Stan Mikita with 541 goals and Bobby Hull, who leads the franchise with 604 goals. Do you think Kane will catch either of these two all-time greats?
I absolutely think that Kane could pass Mikita or Hull. He is like fine wine and is getting better with age. Every time we think we have seen his best, we get surprised with something even greater. So I don’t he is slightly close to being done, and I think he can definitely catch them.
Kane’s 100th goal was in 2010-11, four seasons into his career. His 200th goal was four seasons later, his 300th goal three seasons after that, and his 400th goal three seasons after that. So, he’s actually getting faster at these things.
Based on his track record, Kane will hit 500 goals three or four years from now, in either the 2023-24 season or the 2024-25 season. He’ll be either 35 or 36 years old. So no, l don’t think it will be a problem at all for him to catch and surpass Mikita.
Hull, on the other hand. Well, that would put us somewhere in 2027 or 2028, and Kane would be 38 or 39. I don’t know about that. But heck, Hull played until he was 41. If anyone can do it, Kane can.
While it’s fun to try to make these predictions, there are so many outside factors that come into play. Injuries and the business side of things can prevent Kane from catching either of these greats. Outside of his broken clavicle in 2015, he has been healthy throughout his career (*knocks on wood*), so we can assume he won’t miss any major chunks of time due to reoccurring issues. For the sake of the question, we will also assume he plays the rest of his career in Chicago.
So, depending on how long he plays, I think passing Mikita is likely to happen. Catching Hull is going to be a bigger chore. If I had to bet with my own money, I’d say that he doesn’t get to 605, but I have learned that you never count out No. 88.
Doing some quick math, I think it’s feasible to expect Kane to catch and surpass Mikita. If Kane plays until he’s 40, that gives him seven to eight more years in the league. He’s proven to be beyond a 20-goal scorer, having even hit the 30 or more mark five times already as well.
Even if he regresses, which is to be expected at some point, 20 goals over eight seasons give him 160 more to the 400 he currently has. He’d then have 560 and end up right behind Hull for most all-time by a Blackhawk.
To Trade or Not to Trade?
We’ve discussed the Blackhawks’ rebuild many times this season, but this has hardly looked like your typical team in the middle of tearing it down. The NHL trade deadline is April 12, and depending on what happens in March, Stan Bowman could be in a bizarre position. While he has publicly stated the team is rebuilding, he might still be challenging for a playoff spot. If the Blackhawks are still challenging for the postseason come April 12, what do you do at the deadline? Stick to the plan and try to move veterans for assets? Trade away young players and picks to try to add to the roster for a playoff push? Or, stand pat?
I would try to move veterans for assets. You see that right now is the rookie show and it seems like our veterans are on the outside looking in. I’ll take all the assets we can get with this team.
If the Blackhawks are challenging for the postseason you owe it to the players a chance to see how far they can take it. However, the future should still be a primary focus. So, trading young players to add to the roster would be a bad idea. That’s taking it too far.
Regarding trading a veteran or two. Well, that should be on the table depending on the offer. But the offer has to be really good. Although I certainly wouldn’t want to be that veteran (Carl Soderberg or Mattias Janmark) that doesn’t get a chance to finish what he started. And let’s face it, their impact would be dearly missed in a playoff push. You can have Nikita Zadorov! Oh wait, it has to be a really good return, which I don’t think you can get with Zadorov.To make a long story short, stand pat.
This “rebuild” has been puzzling from day one. Obviously, having so many young guys step up and contribute on a nightly basis has been a great surprise. However, because the team is so young, I think they need to stay the course. Trading away picks or prospects right now to face the Lightning or Carolina Hurricanes in the first round is not a sound move and doesn’t do anything for the long-term plan.
If I were behind the GM’s desk, I would definitely listen to offers on veterans like Calvin de Haan, Ryan Carpenter and Carl Soderberg. If you are truly rebuilding, you need as many draft picks as possible to add the right players to the mix. At the very least, I’d stand pat, but I would not do anything that risks the future to “win now.”
I think this team should keep doing what they set out to, in terms of prioritizing youth and working to develop for sustainable success. With that said, the fact that they are surprising many with their results thus far shouldn’t be overlooked either.
It may just mean that the strategic shifts, in that they shouldn’t let go of valuable veterans if they are part of what’s helping build and support this youth movement. But they could easily justify working to move some of the lesser effective veterans, even if it means the return stockpiles for their future and doesn’t even help with a run this season.
Where Will the Blackhawks Be in April?
Speaking of the tough month of March, let’s make our predictions for this week. The Blackhawks have a brutal schedule this month with five games against the Bay Lightning, four against the Florida Panthers, two against the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators, and it ends with a tilt versus the Carolina Hurricanes. There are no games against the Columbus Blue Jackets or Detroit Red Wings on the March schedule. So, do you think the Blackhawks are still in a playoff spot when we flip our calendars over to April?
Yes, I think we will still be in the playoff spot by the end of April.
I still think the Blackhawks will be fourth, or maybe fifth, in the division at the end of this month, because they’re going to steal some unexpected points with their competitiveness. But they’re going to lose some ground on the top three for sure (Lightning, Panthers, Hurricanes).
But that’s ok since four teams make the playoffs. The Blackhawks (29 points) have a decent cushion against the Blue Jackets (25 pts.) and Predators (20 pts.) here at the beginning of the month. They certainly have a tough road ahead of them, but they’ve also set themselves up rather nicely. Hopefully, it will pan out for them.
I think they will still be in fourth place only because the teams chasing them are playing each other all month long too, so it will be hard to pass them up unless one goes on a serious run. I think a lot of fans are making a huge mistake by writing off the Stars. Yes, they are 15 points behind the Blackhawks, but they have seven games in hand. Plus, they have essentially been without Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin and Alex Radulov for the entire season and could have all three of them back within the next couple of weeks.
Yes, I do. They are proving to be a better team, through and through, as a result of stronger cohesion and not just weakness in their opponents. While it will be a challenging month, Chicago is playing better hockey so we need to expect them to show up for those types of battles.
Besides, they’ve already shown what they can do against teams like the Stars and Predators. Chicago just needs to put more emphasis on their efforts against the Lightning and Panthers. And I think they’ve done enough to prove that we should anticipate they will.
Be sure to keep an eye out for our new episode of Blackhawks Banter, dropping on Tuesday morning, where we’ll delve further into all the subjects above plus review the three-game series versus the defending champ. In the meantime, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and like us on Facebook. And for your viewing pleasure, here is our most recent Blackhawks Banter episode below.