The Chicago Blackhawks are expected to be at the bottom of the NHL standings during the 2022-23 season. As a result, it would be understandable if a good portion of their fans are not looking forward to the regular season. Yet, even if the Blackhawks are rebuilding, there’s reason to believe that they could still be fun to watch. Let’s take a look at three hot takes I have for the Blackhawks for this upcoming season and why I have confidence that they will come to fruition.
Patrick Kane Records First 120-Point Season
Patrick Kane has put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career and is still not showing any signs of regression. With this being a contract year for the Buffalo native, I expect him to not only have a great 2022-23 season, but also his best one to date. Kane will be motivated to land his last big contract, and due to this, I believe he will record the first 120-point campaign of his career.
Kane’s current career-high in points is 110, and that occurred during the 2018-19 season. Since then, he has not slowed down too noticeably, as he has maintained over a point-per-game in each season after it. As a result, the prospect of him hitting 120 points certainly seems possible. This is especially true when noting that he will have even more responsibility to produce for the Blackhawks. Keep in mind, they have moved on from Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, and Dominik Kubalik this offseason alone. Thus, they need Kane’s offense more than ever, and I believe he has the star power to deliver.
If Kane were to record 120 points during this upcoming season, he would land himself a massive payday as an unrestricted free agent (UFA) next summer. Let’s see if the superstar has himself a year to remember because of it.
Petr Mrazek Puts Together Bounce-Back Season
The Blackhawks acquired Petr Mrazek from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a cap dump move. The Blackhawks received another first-round pick in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft in the trade, so it’s a move that general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson is likely already happy with. Yet, although Mrazek just had a bad season, I’m expecting him to have a bounce-back campaign for the Blackhawks in 2022-23.
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With the Maple Leafs in 2021-22, Mrazek sported a 3.34 goals-against average (GAA) and a .888 save percentage (SV%) in 20 appearances. Yes, those numbers are certainly rough, but when looking at the 30-year-old’s previous seasons, there’s reason to believe that he could rebound. For example, he had a .923 SV% and 2.06 GAA in 12 games with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2020-21. Furthermore, during the 2018-19 season with the Hurricanes, he possessed a 2.39 GAA and .914 SV% in 40 games. Thus, he has had some strong seasons not too long ago, so fans shouldn’t just ride him off after one bad year.
There’s a lot of pressure playing in a high-pressure market like Toronto, and that can cause some players to struggle. Yet, Mrazek will now be on a rebuilding team, who has extremely low expectations for the 2022-23 season. This massive change in pressure could be exactly what Mrazek needs to get back on track. Let’s see if he succeeds as a Blackhawk from here.
Max Domi Has Best Season Since 2018-19
When the Blackhawks signed Max Domi earlier this offseason, it was a little bit surprising to see. The Blackhawks are rebuilding, so they weren’t expected to be too active on the free agency market. Yet, upon further reflection, this could be a move that ends up benefitting both parties immensely. In my honest opinion, I believe that Domi will have his best season since his memorable 72-point campaign in 2018-19 with the Montreal Canadiens.
Domi is going to be put in a position to succeed with the Blackhawks. When looking at Chicago’s depth chart, it’s clear that he is a perfect fit to play in their top six and on their power play. The 27-year-old did not receive those kinds of minutes after joining the Columbus Blue Jackets and then Carolina Hurricanes, but now that is set to change with the Blackhawks. Thus, this could be the year that we see Domi get back to the 60-point plateau at least.
If Domi ends up playing on a line with Kane, he surely should put together his best year in a while. This would benefit the rebuilding Blackhawks, too, as he would become a prime rental candidate at the 2023 Trade Deadline. With all of this, I believe that the former first-round pick is going to put together an excellent season.
Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to see if any of these hot takes come to fruition this season for the Blackhawks. It certainly would make the 2022-23 season for the Blackhawks more exciting than expected. Time will tell what happens on that front, but I truly expect big things from Kane, Mrazek, and Domi from here.