Blackhawks Monday Mailbag: Duncan Keith, Lukas Reichel, and What Happens at No. 11?

For the second time this offseason, we are digging into the Bleacher Nation Blackhawks Mailbag, answering your questions about the Chicago Blackhawks and anything else going on around the world of Hockey. Since we last spoke, the IIHF World Championships have come to a close, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are now in the second round, and the Blackhawks know where they are drafting in this upcoming July’s NHL Draft. So let’s get into it!

Remember, you can send in questions on Twitter using the hashtag #BNHawksMailbag or email them to us at Mario.Tirabassi at bleachernation dot com. Send them anytime about the Blackhawks or the IceHogs or the NHL Draft or Free agency and everything in-between this offseason.

Question 1: What is more likely to happen, Stan trades pick #11 or drafts a promising prospect? – @chiguy8506 (Twitter)

I think the Blackhawks are focused on bringing in young talent and prospects into the organization to build a new winning franchise, instead of piecing a team together. That being said, nothing is off the table. If the right trade deal was offered to the Blackhawks that involved their 11th overall pick and had them coming away with at least a young, NHL-ready player in the deal, then it would be worth considering.

This year’s NHL Draft Class is all over the board, so it could very well be the case that the Blackhawks put out feelers for the 11th overall pick and see if there may be a team willing to move up to that spot in the first round to grab a guy at No. 11 that they feel will not fall to them. Chicago could also be valuing a player at No. 11 that they could still get at pick 14 or 15 or later in the first round. They could make that kind of move to add more draft capital and still get their guy later in the round.

For my money, I think the Blackhawks will end up using the pick at No. 11.

Question 2: As of now, what do the Defensive pairings look like? – @chiguy8506 (Twitter)

A double-dip from our friend @chiguy8506 this week. The defensive pairings for the Blackhawks moving forward into 2021-22 are really hard to figure out with the uncertainty of Nikita Zadorov and what may happen in the Seattle Expansion Draft. If I were Stan Bowman, I wouldn’t be re-signing Nikita Zadorov for the money he is likely going to be asking for this offseason. In that case, and factoring in that Chicago exposes him and Seattle takes Calvin de Haan in the Expansion Draft, this is how I would set the defensive lineup for the Blackhawks starting next season:

Duncan Keith – Adam Boqvist
Riley Stillman – Connor Murphy
Wyatt Kalynuk – Nicolas Beaudin
Ian Mitchell

It would be fantastic if the Blackhawks could manage to sign Dougie Hamilton this offseason, but they will have to out-bid half the league in the free agent market. Landing Hamilton would give the Blackhawks legit No.1 defenseman in their organization, and allow Duncan Keith to reduce his minutes and be more effective without having to play 25-26 minutes a game at 38-years-old.

Question 3: Did Duncan recover from the concussion he received from the ref or linesman towards the end of the season? – @Kaner_88fan (Twitter)

Speaking of Duncan Keith, his season ended earlier than expected after taking a knee to the face from a linesman on May 6 against the Hurricanes. He missed the rest of the game after the first period and was diagnosed with a season-ending concussion.

We have not heard any updates on Keith since the end of the season and we will likely not hear anything until training camp starts in September. No news is kind of good news with that kind of situation. If we do end up hearing any kinds of updates prior to training camp starting, it usually isn’t good news. Hopefully for Keith and the Blackhawks, his recovery is on schedule and he will be able to be ready for the 2021-22 season without issue.

Question 4: Does Lukas Reichel make the team this year? – Alex (via Email)

After the season in the DEL with Eisbären Berlin and his performance in the IIHF World Championships, I would say that Reichel looks about 65% ready for the NHL. Whether that 65% is good enough for the Blackhawks right out of the gate or not is still to be seen since he has yet to sign his entry-level deal (which is expected this offseason any day now) and has yet to skate with the club at all, since there was no Prospect Camp this year prior to the 2021 season beginning due to COVID restrictions.

Could he sign his ELC and make a huge splash in training camp and make his NHL debut in 2021-22, possibly. But as much as I’d like to think he is ready from Day One, he’ll likely need some time to transition to North American hockey. With him being drafted out of Europe, he could report to the Rockford IceHogs and play right away, which is likely the best option for him to start. If Jonathan Toews returns to the Blackhawks this season and with the addition of Henrik Borgström in the offseason, Chicago may be able to afford having Reichel take time in the AHL to assimilate to a faster, more physical style of hockey before throwing him to the wolves in the NHL.

Or they hype him up so much so that they force their own hand and have to play him in the NHL right away. Maybe he sinks, maybe he swims. I’d like to think he would be able to swim, but I’m an optimist in that scenario.

That’ll do it for this edition of the Monday Mailbag! We’ll be doing this all offseason and maybe even into the regular season as we get closer to the start of the 2021-22 year. Be sure to send in questions on Twitter using #BNHawksMailbag or emailing them to Mario.Tirabassi at bleachernation dot com.

written by

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.

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