The latest scoop from the Chicago Blackhawks has a theme: new. We have new faces and new dates to catch you up to speed. We also have some new, yet familiar faces that have joined the team as they are continuing their preparations for their qualifying-round series against the Edmonton Oilers.
Return to Play Schedule
To start, the Blackhawks have announced dates of when we can expect play to resume. The league and the NHL Players’ Association came to an agreement on the schedule that was announced on July 6:
July 13: Training camp starts.
July 26: Teams will travel to their hub cities. The two hub cities which will host the rest of the NHL season are Toronto and Edmonton. For Chicago, they will be traveling to Edmonton.
Aug. 1: Qualifying rounds begin.
Should these dates continue to go as planned, we will be witnessing hockey in the matter of weeks.
Ever since optional workouts have opened to the players on June 10 as part of Phase 2 of returning to play, we first saw five Blackhawks appear: Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Alex Nylander, Malcolm Subban, and Dylan Strome. Now, two other players have officially joined the party – Dominik Kubalik and the captain, Jonathan Toews, skated with the team on July 6.
When it comes to Toews, he will be looking to continue brewing up a storm.
He has been continuing to build on 2018-19, which was his best year yet. He had 35 goals, 46 assists, and 81 points in 82 games. This season, he had 18 goals, 42 assists, and 60 points in 70 games. You better believe he is going to want to come into the play-in series with a bang.
Related: Kris Versteeg – Forever a Blackhawk
When it comes to Kubalik, he will be wanting to carry his rookie success into the postseason. He led all rookies this year with 30 goals and added 16 assists in 68 games. If that translates in the playoff hockey setting, then fans are going to be in for a treat.
With that in mind, it is especially exciting to see these guys back.
Lastly, the Blackhawks are bringing a new face to town. In a rather interesting twist, the team signed a left-handed defenseman: Wyatt Kalynuk.
Related: The WHA – A Look Back at the Upstart Hockey League
Kalynuk is 23 years old and played his college hockey at the University of Wisconsin. Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 189 pounds, he was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the seventh round of the NHL Draft (196th overall) in 2017. They decided not to sign him, though, which made him a free agent. He has been touted for his offensive capabilities and skating ability. That, alongside his overall defensive game, has made a case for him as a player that Chicago did not want to miss out on.
Kalynuk will come into a fold that needs a lot of defensive flexibility. The team needs better options on the back end. With other young defensemen like Nick Seeler, Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Dennis Gilbert, Alec Regula, and Lucas Carlsson already in the system, it will make for some healthy competition. Tony Granato, Wisconsin’s head coach, had this to say about Kalynuk:
Defensively, his game was very solid, very responsible. He’s not an overpowering defenseman that is going to run people over, but positionally, he’s going to be in great position, he’s smart, he makes a great first pass and I think he’s got great potential for a real high-exciting NHL career.(from ‘Flyers prospect Wyatt Kalynuk has developed into ‘elite offensive defenseman’ at Wisconsin’, NBC Sports Philadelphia, 03/22/20)
If Granato’s words prove to be true about Kalynuk at the NHL level, then that would be an excellent, hidden-gem pickup by management.
As we continue to look forward to Aug. 1, some things to look forward to in the meantime are more familiar faces arriving back in Chicago, some more player quotes, an analysis of the Blackhawks team name controversy, and more!