The 32-in-32 Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day incAugust we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s Draft, and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up in September, we will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the
upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs all off-season long!
What a difference a year makes.
Heading into last season, I was very critical of the Blackhawks management and head coach. While I am still not convinced that Jeremy Colliton is the man for the job behind the bench, Stan Bowman has done everything he can to give this team a chance to win this year. Of course, there were tough decisions to be made but every team has those. The two toughest decisions had to be allowing Pius Suter to walk away for nothing and the trade of franchise icon Duncan Keith. It is the unfortunate side of the game but for a team that has not sniffed the “real” playoffs since 2015, these were moves that needed to be made.
After starting last season with three unknown entities in net last year (as far as full-time starters are concerned), goaltending may very well be the strength of the team now. The addition of reigning Vezina trophy winner, Marc-Andre Fleury, takes a middle/bottom of the pack group and propels them into the top end of the league. An absolute steal for the Blackhawks. Bowman gets a gold star for this one.
The defence looks very different than it did at the end of last season with the big change being Seth Jones. The addition of Jones should allow the rest of the defensive core to slot into a more appropriate role as he eats substantial minutes. Adding Jones’ brother Caleb could also end up being a nice move.
The other, and much more low-key signing on the blueline was Jake McCabe. Make no mistake, this is a player the Hawks desperately needed. He will bring a toughness to this team that has been missing since Brent Seabrook was injured.
The re-signing of Connor Murphy and the continued development of youngsters Ian Mitchell, Wyatt Kalynuk and Nicolas Beaudin provides an optimistic outlook for this season and beyond. Veteran Calvin de Haan is still around to provide a leadership presence and hopefully some meaningful minutes. Factoring in all the moves made, Bowman gets another gold star.
The forward group is a tough one to read. The biggest question is whether or not the captain is healthy enough to return to the lineup. Add Jonathan Toews back in the mix and this group is vastly improved. Without him, it lacks a true number one center.
Can someone please tell Colliton that Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat belong on the same line all the time. I would still prefer to see Dylan Strome as their center but it is imperative to the success of this team that those two stay together.
The rest of the forward group presents a litany of questions. Which Kirby Dach comes to play at the start of the season? Will Dominik Kubalik, fresh off his real-life honeymoon, find the scoring prowess he displayed in his rookie season? Are Jujhar Khaira and Alex Nylander fully recovered from their injury issues? Is Phillipp Kurashev a bona fide middle-six center in the NHL? Can Tyler Johnson rediscover his offensive abilities or is he a bottom six forward taking up $5,000,000 in cap space?
So many questions…. Will the answers add up to a playoff appearance? Time will tell.
Bowman made a lot of moves with the forward group but no big splashes. Maybe he was working the cap space angle and if that’s the case, he did a fine job. This is not gold star worthy but the moves do not appear to have set this team back at all. Shrewd GM’ing.
Isaak Phillips – with COVID knocking out the OHL season, Phillips moved on to the AHL where he looked better than expected. Look for him to make a push during camp and maybe even see some NHL action if there are injuries on the blueline.
Josiah Slavin – made the jump from college to pro hockey last season. How will he hold up with a full season of the pro grind?
Jakub Pour – the now annual European free agent signee will hope to follow the likes of Suter and Kubalik straight to the NHL.
Caleb Jones – Jones was not just bait to lure his older brother here. This kid has got the talent to make an impact at this level. Fell victim to a numbers game in Edmonton. He should get his shot early.
Wyatt Kalynuk – Was very impressive once he was called up from Rockford of the AHL. He has the offensive skills to see his name on the scoresheet a lot as well.
Phillipp Kurashev – I did not expect to see Kurashev called up so early last season and I surely did not see him sticking around for the rest of the year. It is his spot to lose now.
All Blackhawk goalies not named Marc-Andre Fleury – I mean he is the reigning Vezina winner, so they did not get him to sit on the bench.
Chad Krys – If ever there was a player that needed a fresh start, Krys is near the top of the list. Injuries and inconsistency have derailed this former second round pick.
Prospect Depth Chart
Top 20 Fantasy Prospects
- Henrik Borgstrom
- Wyatt Kalynuk
- Ian Mitchell
- Brandon Hagel
- Phillipp Kurashev
- Nicolas Beaudin
- Nolan Allan
- Lukas Reichel
- Alex Nylander
- Isaak Phillips
- MacKenzie Entwistle
- Josiah Slavin
- Michael Teply
- Evan Barratt
- Andrei Altybarmakyan
- Alec Regula
- Michael Krutil
- Cole Moberg
- Artur Kayumov
- Chad Krys
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and feel free to leave a comment or question whether you agree or disagree. You can find me on Twitter @fiveminutemajor. DM’s are open. Stay safe and here’s to a great NHL season.