Blackhawks Monday Mailbag: New Lineup, Potential Trade Bait, and More

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Blackhawks Monday Mailbag: New Lineup, Potential Trade Bait, and More

Chicago Blackhawks

Sorry for the delay in getting back to doing our offseason Monday Mailbag posts. Last week, we had to deal with a work stoppage at the Bleacher Nation Blackhawks post office, and the week before we went with a virtual “meeting” instead of our written post. Let me know if you all like that format better or prefer to have the Monday Mailbag continue as a post on our site here.

The Chicago Blackhawks are looking like a real Stanley Cup Playoff contender after this summer, with the final checklist item of the offseason checked-off today (signing restricted free agent Alexander Nylander). As we continue through tumbleweed season, the Blackhawks don’t have much, if any, work left to be done to be prepared for the 2021-22 season. So with most of everything ironed-out as we approach training camp, let’s dive into a couple 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, IceHogs, and everything in-between this offseason.

Question 1: Any talk about what the situation will be regarding fans at training camp – practices, scrimmages, pre-season games? – via @PeterGaeta (Twitter)

Speaking of training camp coming up, the Blackhawks are set to hold their training camp in September as the NHL season is set to begin about a week and a half behind their “normal” start date. Chicago opens the regular season on the road against the Colorado Avalanche on October 13th.

As far as fans being able to attend camp and practices, from what I know, they will be closed to the public. That could change as we get closer to camp opening if things go the opposite direction they currently are regarding COVID-19 cases, but I don’t see that happening. Prospect camp will not be happening for the Blackhawks in Traverse City, Michigan this year and instead, a rookie-mini series will take place with the Minnesota Wild.

With regular season games at the end of last year open to limited fans, and with fans in attendance at numerous events within Chicago over the months since the end of the 2020-21 regular season, we know that fans will be in attendance for games at the United Center. Pre-season and regular season games will be open, but there may be a requirement from the Blackhawks and the United Center for fans attending those games to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. That hasn’t been announced yet from the club.

Question 2: Do you think Strome, de Haan, or  Subban are gone? – @Davidga95352557 (via Twitter)

With the additions made to the roster, there’s been an improvement to the depth of the organization across the board. Even if it’s just for the 2021-22 season. All three of these players would probably be the most likely trade piece at each position for Chicago. But, out of the three, I might actually say that Malcolm Subban would be the most likely to be moved.

With the addition of Marc-André Fleury in net, the Blackhawks are pencilling-in an NHL tandem of Fleury and Kevin Lankinen to begin the year. Subban and Collin Delia, both of whom rotated in the NHL last season behind Lankinen, likely do not want to spend all of next season in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. No offense to the IceHogs, but Deila and Subban both feel like they are worthy of being full-time NHL goaltenders. Both are on the final year of their current contracts, with Delia making $1M this season and Subban coming in with an $850,000 cap hit.

Both of Dylan Strome and Calvin de Haan are on the final year of their current deals as well, but their spots in the starting lineup are more of a sure thing than either of Subban or Delia currently are. But if the Blackhawks are not contending for a playoff spot by the trade deadline this season, both of Strome or de Haan could be moved. A lot has to play-out this season.

Question 3: What do you think the lines will look like if Game One was today? – @Jjdgolf1 (via Twitter)

Talking about the lineup, I got a lot of questions asking about what the lines and defensive pairings would look like for the 2021-22 Blackhawks. I talked a bit about the lines and pairings when I was putting together my opening night roster a few days ago. If I’m the head coach of the Blackhawks on October 13th against the Avalanche, this is my lineup:

DeBrincat – Dach – Kubalík
Kurashev – Toews – Kane
Hagel – Johnson – Strome
Gaudette – Borgström – Carpenter

McCabe – Jones
de Haan – Murphy
Stillman – Kalynuk

Fleury
Lankinen

The roster spots taken by Kurashev, Strome, Hagel, Borgström, and Gaudette are up for grabs, in my eyes. Chicago has a robust group of depth forwards who can all fill middle and bottom-six roles with the likes of Nylander, Jujhar Khaira, Brett Connolly, Mike Hardman, MacKenzie Entwistle, and rookie Lukas Reichel in the mix.

Defensively, outside of the top four players, the bottom-pair is an open competition as well. Stillman and Klaynuk look like they will get the first crack at being the bottom-pair, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a combination of Ian Mitchell, Caleb Jones, Nicolas Beaudin, or Alex Regula make a push for playing time with Chicago’s defensive rotation.

And in net, it’s pretty much a lock for Fleury and Lankinen to be the starting tandem for the Blackhawks.

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.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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