Blackhawks News & Rumors: Mrázek, Tinordi, Mitchell, Dach, More

It’s hard to come across as anything other than a rebuild when recent results include a seven-game losing streak, which is the exact narrative the Chicago Blackhawks face at the moment. Any early-season success has been long forgotten by this point, as the club now finds itself battling from the basement of the league.

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This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumors revolves around central figures coming and going from Chicago’s lineup of late, as a former key piece of their future exacts his revenge.

Chicago’s Mrázek Seeks First Win Since Return

While far from ideal to have Petr Mrázek sidelined so early on in the campaign, witnessing Alex Stalock step up in his absence offered a silver lining of sorts. Chicago even got to see more of their future up close with Arvid Söderblom getting into more NHL action in the meantime. But once Stalock went down with an injury of his own, things quickly shifted to being bleak for the Blackhawks.

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

It’s one thing to entrust an inexperienced Söderblom with more starts, given that it offers a great opportunity to foster development, but having a lack of veteran support surround him all the while wasn’t going to offer the same type of growth potential for the prospect. Fortunately, Mrázek was activated just in time to avoid overworking the 23-year-old.

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Not as fortunate, though, has been Mrázek’s stat line since he’s been back. Outside of a stellar return that saw him stop 33 of 35 for a .943 save percentage (SV%), helping the Blackhawks earn a point after a disheartening overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings, his four starts that followed weren’t as impressive.

Between Nov. 14-Nov. 27, the 30-year-old went 0-4-0 with a .866 SV%, 5.25 goals against average (GAA), and -6.77 goals saved above expected (GSAx). While true that the Blackhawks weren’t expected to find much success this season, they’ll need Mrázek to snap out of this funk if they want to remain even remotely competitive the rest of the way.

Tinordi & Lafferty Both Out for Blackhawks

A couple of the more pleasant surprises for the Blackhawks thus far this season, Jarred Tinordi and Sam Lafferty have been forced to pause their impact for the time being. Both are expected to miss at least the next week, as Lafferty is dealing with a nagging back ailment and Tinordi is trying to overcome a hip injury.

Jarred Tinordi Chicago Blackhawks
Jarred Tinordi, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)

Through 19 contests, Lafferty had already accumulated three goals and four assists for a production pace that should see the forward smash his former career high of 13 points.

Whereas Tinordi, who spent most of 2021-22 in the American Hockey League (AHL), was experiencing an even greater resurgence before being sidelined. The defenseman quickly set career highs in various columns, with his 17:30 of average ice time, five points, and 79 hits through 20 contests.

Both depth players bring a level of energy that will be sorely missed while they’re out. Hopefully, for Chicago’s sake, they can infuse that grit back into their lineup sooner than later.

Mitchell Sent Back Down to Ice Hogs

Safe to say, Ian Mitchell still can’t seem to find his fit with the Blackhawks. Specifically, throughout the past two seasons, as the club has made it a habit to send him back down to the Rockford IceHogs soon after calling on him for assistance. A pattern he can’t seem to shake and one that has now found its way into 2022-23, with the 23-year-old being relegated to Rockford yet again.

Ian Mitchell Chicago Blackhawks
Ian Mitchell, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Elevating his offensive prowess with the IceHogs since turning pro in 2020-21, the dynamic defenseman has appeared poised for a more permanent promotion for some time. Unfortunately, Chicago continues to get in the way of allowing him to prove it.

It’s one thing to point out his lack of production in the NHL, but it’s equally as relevant to reference Mitchell’s limited ice time as a Blackhawk. If this team was playing to contend, then it would make sense to ensure those performing at a peak were prioritized. But, that’s far from Chicago’s reality at the moment.

Given their rebuilding status, this is the perfect time to permit the former second-rounder more open laneway to work with, so he can truly develop at this level. Especially with his elevated confidence heading into the season.

“Coming into this year, I’ve had a ton of confidence and my goal is, this was my year to make and lock down a roster spot. So my mindset now is, it’s just delayed and I’m just starting a bit later. I still have a ton of confidence and feel like I can help this team.”

The reality is, if Chicago isn’t prepared to pave a pathway for Mitchell to become a mainstay, then they should let him do so elsewhere. They’d certainly extract more value out of trading him than they have been by flying him to and from Chicago every other week.

Dach Enjoys Last Laugh in Return to Chicago

Despite it once seeming as though Kirby Dach was part of Chicago’s future plans, no one can blame Kyle Davidson for opting to acquire picks in exchange for his services this past offseason. Simply stated, the former third-overall pick just hadn’t progressed in as meaningful of a fashion as was expected to that point.

Kirby Dach Montreal Canadiens
Kirby Dach, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Throughout his three years in Chicago, the centreman was only able to earn 19 goals, 40 assists, and a faceoff percentage (FO%) of 34.6. It’s not as though his 16:31 per night wasn’t enough time to influence his team’s results any further than he had been, either.

Rather than granting onlookers the chance to question whether or not a change of scenery would propel the 21-year-old’s progress, Dach is actively proving that it has. Being deployed on the wing more so than as a centre since joining the Montreal Canadiens, he’s already earned 17 points through his first 21 games with his new team.

Facing off against his former franchise for the first time on Nov. 25, Dach was not only granted one of his highest ice times of the season thus far, but he was also put in a key position to close things out for the Canadiens that night.

Not only did Dach make good on scoring the shootout winner, but he made sure to let the home crowd know that he was ready to hear their cheers.

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Although the volume of transactions that Davidson has managed for his rebuilding Blackhawks means fans should brace for more of these reunions, onlookers can at least find comfort in the fact that an angry Alex DeBrincat will have more time to cool down before visiting the United Center with his Ottawa Senators much later in the campaign.