The Chicago Blackhawks are sitting in a spot that has given them a hard dose of reality. They are on a four-game losing streak, they sit eight points out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division, and any sliver of hope that they could right the ship has sailed. Because the playoffs are out of the picture, we have to look towards the future. Some of the future came to the team during the trade deadline when they acquired Adam Gaudette from the Vancouver Canucks on April 13. He has been producing at a great rate since his arrival and has shown out this past week. Here are some takeaways from the Blackhawks’ ‘Star of the Week.’
As previously stated, the Blackhawks received Gaudette at the trade deadline in exchange for Matthew Highmore. This seemed like a wash at first glance. Both players needed a change of scenery, but one thing that couldn’t be overlooked was Gaudette’s potential. He was a standout player at Northeastern College. In 2018, his last year in college, he led the NCAA in points with 60. He was also named the Hobey Baker Award winner that year. It’s an award given to the top men’s collegiate hockey player.
Fast forward to the Canucks, Gaudette was with them for three years, starting in 2018. In that time span, he had 21 goals, 31 assists, and 52 points in 153 games. His breakout came last season with a career-high 12 goals, 21 assists, and 33 points in 59 games. However, he has struggled mightily this season. Before the trade, he had four goals, three assists, seven points and was a minus-12 in 33 games. He was stapled to the Canucks’ bottom-six and couldn’t seem to find the same rhythm that brought him success last season.
Gaudette made his Blackhawks’ debut against the Nashville Predators on April 19. He got his first point during his first game with an assist on David Kampf’s goal in the second period.
Although the Hawks ended up losing that game, it was a significant moment for Gaudette, who showed that the Blackhawks’ management made the right decision to trade for him.
Gaudette was picked for the ‘Star of the Week’ because of his performance in the two-game series against the Florida Panthers on April 29 and May 1.
It’s important to note that after his great debut against the Predators, he was a healthy scratch for the following three games. Therefore, the two games against the Panthers are when he drew back into the lineup. He was on the third line with Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik. He had a triumphant return. During the first game against the Panthers, he scored in the first period to put the team up 1-0. Strome put the puck on the net and Gaudette was able to backhand the rebound in. During the second game, Gaudette won the faceoff on the power play and got to it to Connor Murphy, who scored on the play. Then, less than 50 seconds later, Gaudette retrieved the puck and quickly got it to Alex DeBrincat in front and he scored to tie the game at 2-2. In every game Gaudette has played for the Blackhawks, he has had a point. He now has a goal, three assists, and four points in three games. Assists galore!
Here is what he had to say after the second game about his resurgence:
I agree with him there! Usually, when a player feels the most comfortable playing a certain way, good things happen. I’m glad it has been working out for him so far.
Something that sticks out right away is that Gaudette brings a net-front presence. It’s an area that the Blackhawks have struggled a lot this season. In almost every play that I have seen him in, he is either getting the puck to the net or is right around there in some capacity. That has definitely helped his production and well as the team’s play in general. He also is speedy and skilled. He can create plays on the fly and that’s a plus. The only issue is that he struggles defensively. He is a career minus-25. That doesn’t help the team’s overall defensive struggles. But if he can consistently produce to make up for it, then that would be ideal.
Even though only five games are left in the regular season, I hope that Gaudette continues down this path. If he does, he will surely make a stronger case for being re-signed as he will be a restricted free agent after this season. I like that he can be utilized in different ways. He has been used on the first line, third line, fourth line and power play. He is also a natural center, even though Chicago has mostly used him at wing. He has won 66% of his faceoffs in a Blackhawks’ sweater. It definitely gives the team more options and versatility. At 24-years-old, all he can do is grow from here. And with the Hawks being a rebuilding team, adding a player like him makes their future look even more promising.
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