Chicago Blackhawks 2021-22 Season Recapby Jack Gaffney May 14, 2022 0 comments
This was another dreadful season for the Chicago Blackhawks, even on top of their own self-inflicted PR Nightmare. They have now missed the postseason in four of the last five seasons, and the lone year they did was in the bubble. For context, they finished dead last in the Central that season. Even with a bad season, they will not have a lottery pick in the draft as a result of last year’s Seth Jones trade. Now heading into an offseason where they look to lock up RFA’s Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, how do the Blackhawks go about their offseason processions?
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By the Numbers
Power Play: 19.1% (21st)
Penalty Kill: 76.2% (24th)
Goals For: 213 (T-28th)
Goals Against: 291 (26th)
The clear answer is that Alex DeBrincat was Chicago’s best player this season. He was no Auston Matthews, but 41 goals are nothing to scoff at in an NHL season. On top of 37 assists, as well, DeBrincat ranked top 10 on the Blackhawks in hits and blocked shots as well. This is all in addition to leading the team in point shares as well at 8.4 over Patrick Kane. Furthermore, this is now DeBrincat’s third season of five where he has put 30 or more in the back of the net. This Blackhawks team as currently constructed is certainly not perfect, but having a bonified sniper that is only 24-years-old is a good start.
Jones would be an ok pick here, but he wasn’t completely dreadful in his opening season in Chicago. Instead, we go with another worthy winner of this superlative, Stan Bowman. Yes, he is no longer with the team but had them going nowhere for several years before he resigned to save face. Before the season began, the Blackhawks had a season points total set at 91.5, then proceeded to come nowhere close to that number despite a pretty notable offseason all things considered. Even now, large in part to Bowman’s decision making, the Blackhawks feel like a rudderless ship.
Of course, there is the elephant in the room that is the Jones’ trade and extension. The defenseman for sure had some excellent seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, Bowman giving him an eight-year extension (that hasn’t even kicked in yet mind you) worth 9.5 million a year annually, has all-time disastrous potential. Bowman of course has a laundry list of questionable moves, but the Jones contract has real long-term consequences. Much like Bowman turning a blind eye to Brad Aldrich in 2010 hopefully ending his NHL career for example.
Behind the Bench Analysis
It took the Blackhawks all of a dozen games to fire Jeremy Colliton. He started year four with the club with an opening record of 1-9-2, coming right off the heels of a 25-26-7 season. To replace him, they brought up Rockford IceHogs coach Derek King to replace him. Coming into about as bad a situation imaginable from an organizational standpoint, 27-33-10 on the year wasn’t a complete disaster. Especially considering the roster shakeup that happened at the deadline, most notably Brandon Hagel getting shipped off to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is unlikely King will be long for the Blackhawks, but he is a solid stopgap coach for the time being.
Front Office Analysis
Replacing Bowman was the already in-house Kyle Davidson, who had been with the Blackhawks in some capacity dating back to 2010. At this year’s trade deadline, he made three total moves to bring in a pair of future first-rounders from the Lightning. In addition to a second-rounder this year from the Minnesota Wild for Marc-Andre Fleury. That second-rounder could have ended up being a first as well, but that isn’t on Davidson, rather Minnesota getting bounced in round one of the postseason. How he attacks his first full offseason as an NHL general manager will be most interesting.
2022 NHL Entry Draft
Due to the aforementioned Jones trade, the Blackhawks will not have a first-round pick in this year’s draft. On the plus side, they will have five guaranteed selections between the second and third rounds, one being dependent on Ducan Keith’s ice time in the postseason. Goaltending was an issue this year, but Chicago has Boston University’s Drew Commeso waiting in the wings, so they likely will pass on one in the draft. Although easier said than done, the Blackhawks should simply be looking for more guys who can put the puck in the back of the net. They had just six players this season hit the 10-goal mark, and one of those (Hagel) is no longer with the team. Jonathan Toews and Kane aren’t going to play forever either.
Hard to imagine either Dach or Strome not being with the Blackhawks next season, but getting that pair re-uped should be a priority. In even better news, they will have the ability to spend this offseason. Their 21 million dollars and change of cap space ranks seventh-most in the entire league. If they want to go and add to this team, but not go for the truly big fish (Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Filip Forsberg), there are some worthwhile options available. Guys like Andre Burakovsky, Vincent Trocheck, Ondrej Palat, or Andrew Copp would make a ton of sense. Good moves that wouldn’t decimate the Blackhawks’ salary cap situation as a Gaudreau or Forsberg deal would.
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