3 Blackhawks Bounceback Candidates for 2022-23

The Chicago Blackhawks are expected to be among the league’s worst teams in 2022-23, as they are of course in the process of a full-on rebuild. Even though this is the case, they do have a handful of players who are hoping to rebound from truly rough 2021-22 campaigns. There are three specific players on the roster who truly stand out as bounce-back candidates, and here’s why.

Tyler Johnson

When the Blackhawks acquired Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning last offseason, they were hoping he would provide them with solid secondary scoring in their middle six. His first season in Chicago was underwhelming, but it was out of the 32-year-old forward’s control. Johnson was limited to only 26 games in 2021-22 due to a neck injury that required surgery and then suffered a concussion not too long after he returned. Understandably, he struggled offensively due to his injury troubles, as he only had three goals and seven points. Naturally, he will be aiming to change this in 2022-23.

Tyler Johnson Chicago Blackhawks
Tyler Johnson, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Thankfully, Johnson is already showing clear signs of promise in 2022-23. In his first three games this season, he has recorded three assists and sports a plus-1 rating. With this kind of production, he is already almost halfway to his offensive totals from last season but in 24 fewer games played. Now that he is healthy and off to a hot start, a bounce-back campaign does not seem out of the question. This is especially true when noting that he is receiving top-six minutes at the time of this writing.

If Johnson can put together, say, a 35 to 40-point season this year like he has done many times in the past, it would raise his trade value. With the Blackhawks rebuilding, this would be very beneficial for them, as it could be enough to land a decent draft pick for the 11-year veteran. Regardless of what happens on that front, it is just nice to see him at least starting the season on a high note.

Jason Dickinson

Right before the start of the 2022-23 season, the Blackhawks acquired Jason Dickinson and a 2024 second-round pick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Riley Stillman. This was purely a salary dump move that gave the Blackhawks another high draft pick, so it already looks like a good deal for them. Dickinson carries a $2.65 million cap hit until the end of the 2023-24 season, and he struggled noticeably in his lone season as a Canuck. In 62 games, he had just five goals to go along with six assists. Although the 27-year-old center is not known for being offensively dominant, his production was noticeably low for his standards.

Related: 3 Blackhawks Likely Heading Into Their Final Season in Chicago

After a down year like this, Dickinson should naturally be deemed as a bounce-back candidate. Sometimes a change of scenery is all a player needs to find their previous form, and he’s joining a Blackhawks team that possesses weak forward depth. This, in turn, should allow him to receive some playing time on their power play and even potentially their top six when injuries inevitably arise.

Dickinson’s 2022-23 season has already started wonderfully, too, as he scored and recorded three points in his Blackhawks debut. That is certainly a promising start and if he continues to play this well, he should have zero trouble hitting the 20-point plateau for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

Petr Mrazek

When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Petr Mrazek during the 2021 NHL offseason, they were expecting the 30-year-old to form an excellent tandem with Jack Campbell. This was understandable, as he had a 6-2-3 record, 2.06 goals-against average (GAA), and .923 save percentage (SV%) in 12 appearances for the Carolina Hurricanes the season before. With that, he had been very consistent for several seasons, but, unfortunately, that did not translate over to Toronto. In 20 games with the club last season, he had a solid 12-6-0 record, but he also sported a 3.34 GAA and .888 SV%. That simply was not good enough.

Petr Mrazek Chicago Blackhawks
Petr Mrazek, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

With Mrazek’s struggles and the Maple Leafs entering this offseason with limited cap space, they elected to trade the 30-year-old goalie along with their 2022 first-round pick to the Blackhawks in exchange for Chicago’s 2022 second-round pick. This was a solid trade by the Blackhawks, as taking on Mrazek’s $3.8 million cap hit gave them another first-rounder, which they used to select Sam Rinzel. Getting a strong prospect in Rinzel was excellent enough, but if Mrazek can find his old form in 2022-23, it would make this trade a complete win for Chicago.

Mrazek rebounding isn’t too out of the question, either. He showed not too long ago that he can be a solid starting goalie, and he will be playing for a Blackhawks team that has far lower expectations than the Maple Leafs. Therefore, there is much less pressure on the veteran, and that could also benefit his play. In his first two starts this season, he has a 1-1-0 record, 3.50 GAA, and .885 SV%.

Nevertheless, it will be fun to see if these three players can rebound from their rough 2021-22 seasons. Johnson and Dickinson are already showing signs of doing so, while Mrazek has remained shaky. Yet, the season is still very young, so there’s plenty of time for the Czech goaltender to turn things around.

Sign up for our regular 'Blackhawks Newsletter' for all the latest.