Getting to Know the 2021 Chicago Blackhawks: Forwards | Bleacher Nation

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Getting to Know the 2021 Chicago Blackhawks: Forwards

Chicago Blackhawks

Here at Bleacher Nation Blackhawks, we’re kind of the new kid in town. And with that mindset, we understand that some of our readers might be new, or returning, to the team. Wherever you land, we want to give you an introduction to the players that will make up the 2021 Blackhawks roster and what we’re looking forward to, or not looking forward to, in the upcoming season.

Today: Forwards
Previous: n/a

Headliners:

#88 Patrick Kane – Right Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 33 Goals, 51 Assists, 84 Points, 21:20 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2022-23, $10.5M AAV, No-Movement Clause
•   Synopsis: Best player on the team. Face of the franchise. Future first-ballot Hall of Famer. New Dad.

#19 Jonathan Toews – Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 18 Goals, 42 Assists, 60 Points, 19:47 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2022-23, $10.5M AAV, No-Movement Clause
•   Synopsis: Currently dealing with unknown illness and is not expected to play any time soon. Also face of the franchise. Also future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Captain Serious.

#77 Kirby Dach – Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 8 Goals, 15 Assists, 23 Points, 14:16 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $925,000 AAV, Entry-Level Contract (waivers exempt)
•   Synopsis: Essentially out for 2021 season after broken wrist surgery. Potential future face of the franchise. Breakout rookie season in 2019-20.

#12 Alex DeBrincat – Left Wing/Right Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 18 Goals, 27 Assists, 45 Points, 17:30 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2022-23, $6.4M AAV, Restricted Free Agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Small, energetic goal-scorer. Drop in production in 2019-20. Will be leaned on heavily in 2021. Has cute dogs.

 

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#8 Dominik Kubalik – Left Wing/Right Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 30 Goals, 16 Assists, 46 Points, 14:22 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $3.7M AAV, Arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: 2019-20 Rookie of the Year finalist. Under-the-radar breakout star in 2019-20. Wicked Shot. May have a future in baseball.

#17 Dylan Strome – Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 12 Goals, 26 Assists, 38 Points, 15:56 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $3M AAV, Restricted Free Agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Former third-overall pick in 2015. Big, slow, great vision. Loves to pass instead of shoot. He and DeBrincat are best buds.

Depth

#65 Andrew Shaw – Right Wing/Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 3 Goals, 7 Assists, 10 Points, 14:27 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $3.9M AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Missed last 14 months of action due to concussion symptoms. Fully cleared to return. Aggressive, punchy, can contribute offense. Now wears a visor.

#92 Alexander Nylander – Left Wing/Right Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 10 Goals, 16 Assists, 26 Points, 12:08 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $863,333 AAV, Entry-Level Contract (waivers exempt)
•   Synopsis: Will likely miss entire 2021 season due to offseason knee surgery. Highly skilled, highly inconsistent. Still waiting for him to live up to eighth-overall draft selection from 2016.

#64 David Kämpf – Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 8 Goals, 8 Assists, 16 Points, 13:40 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $1M AAV, Arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Stereotypical depth center. Usually used against opponents top players and on penalty kill. Trains like a maniac.

 

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#36 Matthew Highmore – Center/Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 2 Goals, 4 Assists, 6 Points, 9:49 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $725,000 AAV, Arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: High-energy, penalty-killing forward. Broke out in 2020 Bubble playoffs. Should see increased role in 2021.

#22 Ryan Carpenter – Center/Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 3 Goals, 12 Assists, 15 Points, 14:04 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $1M AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Versatile, penalty-kill forward. Paired with Highmore and Kämpf as shutdown fourth-line. Rocks a pretty decent mustache.

 

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#15 Zack Smith – Center/Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 4 Goals, 7 Assists, 11 Points, 11:47 TOI
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $3.25M AAV, Modified 10-team No-Trade Clause
•   Synopsis: Missed latter portion of 2019-20 season due to injury and back surgery. Cleared waivers prior to training camp. Likely going to be buried in the minor league in 2021.

#13 Mattias Janmark – Left Wing/Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 6 Goals, 15 Assists, 21 Points, 14:37 TOI (with Dallas Stars)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $2.25M AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Helped Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. Versatile forward. Brought in to help the Blackhawks defensively at the forward position.

#71 Lucas Wallmark – Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 12 Goals, 13 Assists, 25 Points, 12:47 TOI (with Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $950,000 AAV, Arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Much like new teammate and fellow countryman Mattias Janmark, Wallmark was brought in to help the Blackhawks defensively at the forward position. Only active 2021 center besides Kämpf (52.3) with better than a 50-percent faceoff percentage last season (50.3).

#24 Pius Suter – Center/Left Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 30 Goals, 23 Assists, 53 Points (53 games with ZSC Lions in Swiss NLA)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $925,000 AAV, Entry-Level contract (waivers exempt)
•   Synopsis: Just like Kubalik, a former MVP in the Swiss NLA (2019-20). Great vision and great passer. High-level scoring ability. Let’s see it translate to the NHL now.

#34 Carl Söderberg – Center
•   2019-20 Stats: 17 Goals, 18 Assists, 35 Points, 15:54TOI (with Arizona Coyotes)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $1M AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Brought in after losing Nylander, Dach, and Toews. Veteran who will take a lot of faceoffs, even if he’s not the best at them. Will play a bigger role than he should. Kills penalties. Most likely will be traded later this season.

#47 John Quenneville – Left Wing/Right Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 0 Goals, 0 Assists, 0 Points, 11:03TOI (9 NHL games played)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $750,000 AAV, Arbitration-eligible restricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: Former first-round pick from 2014 draft. Second cousin to former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. Decent shot. Physical. Likely won’t factor into the NHL level this season.

#73 Brandon Pirri – Center/Wing
•   2019-20 Stats: 0 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 Points, 12:34 TOI (16 games with Vegas Golden Knights)
•   Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $750,000 AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
•   Synopsis: 2009 second-round draft pick by the Blackhawks. Making his second appearance with the organization (2010-2014). May actually start with the NHL club in 2021, but likely will take a taxi squad spot.

Prospects

#23 Philipp Kurashev – Center/Wing
•   Synopsis: Likely would have made his NHL debut last season, but suffered an injury with the Rockford IceHogs. Offensive playmaker, improved on defense. Can play all over the lineup.

#38 Brandon Hagel – Left Wing/Right Wing
•   Synopsis: Made his NHL debut last season. High-energy forward that showed quality scoring ability at the AHL level last season. Has been compared to Andrew Shaw with better offensive potential.

#58 MacKenzie Entwistle – Center/Wing
•   Synopsis: Big-framed, two-way forward. Can play down the middle or on the wing. Tough in puck-battles. Played on penalty kill and power play with the Rockford IceHogs last season.

#84 Andrei Altybarmakyan – Right Wing
•   Synopsis: Making his debut in North America after playing his junior and early professional hockey in Russia. Has matured in the KHL over past two seasons. Two-way option that shows flashes of scoring ability. Will be interesting to see how game translates to smaller North American rinks.

#26 Evan Barratt – Center/Wing
•   Synopsis: Barratt stood out in college at Penn State. Another gritty, energy forward with a bit of a scoring touch. Likely will be placed on the taxi squad or with the Rockford IceHogs to begin the season.

What to Watch for:

With the absence of Toews, Dach, and Nylander, the biggest question becomes who will step up and replace their production in the lineup? Strome, Söderberg, Wallmark, and possibly Suter will be relied upon to take a significant amount of faceoffs and center the top lines offensively. Players like DeBrincat and Kubalik will have to shoulder more of the scoring load this season, so as to not leave Patrick Kane alone as the only top offensive threat.

We Really Like:

The opportunity that has been presented to the young players. Guys like Kurashev and Hagel will be given more time and more responsibilities earlier than previously expected. Entwistle, Barratt, and Altybarmakyan will likely make their NHL debuts this season and give the organization and fan base a real look at what they have in the forwards group of the future.

We Might Be Worried About:

Everyone not named Patrick Kane.
What if DeBrincat doesn’t have a bounce-back season to the prolific goal-scorer we saw in his first two NHL seasons? Or what if Kubalik’s rookie campaign was a fluke? What if Suter falls flat, or if all the young players drown in their first real tastes of the NHL? Who’s going to produce offense?

2021 Forecast:

Herb Brooks once said, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” The Blackhawks forward group, specifically the young players, have a great opportunity ahead of them in 2021. That just have to go out there and take it.