The Blackhawks feel like a much different team than they did on last Monday. Since then, they have lost John Quenneville in the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, acquired Seth Jones in a big trade with the Blue Jackets, and gone through the entire 2021 NHL Entry Draft. It’s already a new world for the Blackhawks … and the free agency period doesn’t even open up until Wednesday!
By next week, we might have another whole new world for the organization. So let’s get to those burning Blackhawks questions.
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: With the Blackhawks trading for Seth Jones, are they now at least playoff contenders? We need some good news in Chicago! – Gabby G. (via Email)
The short answer for me is no. They are going back to the Central Division this season and the Division is adding the Arizona Coyotes. While the Coyotes are not world-beaters, they aren’t the Blue Jackets or Red Wings of last season. Chicago is going back to having to face the Avalanche, Blues, Jets, Wild, and Predators (all playoff teams from last season) regularly, as well as the Stars. I don’t think Seth Jones, while a No. 1 defenseman in the NHL, is enough to put the Blackhawks over the top into the Stanley Cup playoff picture next season.
I think it would have to take Jones being the “old Seth Jones,” Jonathan Toews returning as the “old Jonathan Toews,” Patrick Kane being a top of the league, elite winger again next season, and progression from all the young players year-over-year for Chicago to be contending for a playoff spot in 2021-22. That’s a lot to ask for.
Question 2: I’ll revise two of my earlier questions since trades. Who is the best Dman? And what will be the defense pairings? New question…How do you feel about Jones wearing number 4? – @chiguy8506 (Twitter)
Part one – Seth Jones steps into the lineup on day one as the best all-around defenseman on the team.
Part two – (assuming Nikita Zadorov is not returning to the team)
1. Calvin de Haan – Seth Jones
2. Riley Stillman – Connor Murphy
3. Caleb Jones – Wyatt Kalynuk
Depth: Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, Alex Regula, Isaak Phillips
Part three – I don’t like it, but I can’t control it. The fact that Jones will wear No. 4 is made worse, for me, with the timing of Niklas Hjalmarsson’s retirement this week. Everyone will get over it pretty quickly if Jones ends up living up to his new contract with the team, that’s for sure.
Question 3: Feels like the team had a really bad draft. Is there anyone to be excited about? – Joe C. (via Email)
I wasn’t blown away by the Blackhawks’ draft class this year. A lot of sizable and physical players, but there wasn’t a lot of higher-end skill brought into the prospect system. Nolan Allan, Chicago’s first-round selection, has a lot of potential to be a quality, shut-down style of defenseman in the NHL when/if he reaches his full potential. It’s hard to hype up a solid, shut-down defenseman coming out of the draft though.
Colton Dach feels like the safe answer, given his skillset, potential ceiling, and the fact that he is Kirby Dach’s younger brother. But I’ve also heard good things about Chicago’s seventh-round pick Jalen Luypen, who was also the smaller player picked over the weekend by the Blackhawks. Wouldn’t count out Swedish forward Victor Stjernborg as well.
The team clearly had a change of perspective about the direction in which they wanted to go with the future of the club’s prospect system, with seven of their eight draft picks measuring at least 6’0″ tall and 200 pounds. Most of those player’s top attributes were their compete level, work ethic, and physical stature, but almost all of their downfalls were their skating abilities. To survive in the NHL, you have to be able to skate at a league-average ability, at least.
The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler said in his analysis of the Blackhawks’ draft class, “I’d be surprised if the Blackhawks got one good NHL player out of their eight choices this year.” Not great. But we shall see.
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.