We’re back to opening the Blackhawks Monday Mailbag on an actual Monday (we had to push things back a day last time around). For today’s mailbag, a first-timer ever occurrence: all questions coming via email. I’ve been loving the questions I’ve received this summer and I really want to continue this into the regular season. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.
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: I know there are some guys who will need new contracts after this season, but who are the “big ticket” free agents you would like to see the Hawks pursue next offseason (if any)? – James A. (via Email)
You’re right, James, there are a good number of players who will need new contracts from the Blackhawks heading into next season. But not every one of them will be back. Players on expiring deals for Chicago that I expect to be extended beyond this season include Dominik Kubalík, Kirby Dach, Philipp Kurashev, Connor Murphy, Andrei Altybarmakyan, and Kevin Lankinen. You also have to figure a few of Chicago’s yet-to-be signed prospects will be in the mix to sign their entry-level deals too, like Alex Vlasic, Antti Sarrela, and Louis Crevier.
With all that said, if there’s one pending free agent at which I’d be interested to see Chicago make a run it would be defenseman Morgan Rielly from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rielly will be 28-years-old, have over 600 NHL games under his belt, and (if Murphy or de Haan don’t re-sign with Chicago) would slide into the top-four defensive rotation in the case that no one out of Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, Caleb Jones, Riley Stillamn, or Wyatt Kalynuk prove that they are ready for that kind of jump up the lineup in the 2021-22 season.
Another one, just for funsies, would be Phil Kessel. Think about it, Kessel + Portillo’s? An endorsement deal made in heaven if you ask me, right?
Just spit-balling and having fun here.
Question 2: You mentioned Colliton on the hot seat, but I have to think that somebody, likely with the last name Wirtz, told Bowman, “give Toews and Kane some support while they can still play, or you’re history.” For him to go from “we’re in a rebuild,” to trading for the Vezina trophy winner, one of the best available blue-liners, and several other “win now” players. My guess is, if there is a reset required this year, it will take out both Bowman and Colliton, and several other people that have watched this team atrophy. Of course, Wirtz can blame himself for getting rid of John McDonough, who didn’t get enough credit for the success of the team. Your take? – Jim M. (via Email)
If the Blackhawks fall flat in the 2021-22 season, especially after capitalizing on the rookie breakouts last year and the “going for it” attitude this offseason, there will be vacancies in the Blackhawks coaching staff and/or front office, for sure. There may be changes coming because of the off-ice issues as well, even if the on-ice product lives up to the standards set. So who knows, but if not after this season, for sure after the 2022-23 season, if things do not go up from here.
Question 3: You’ve probably answered this already before, but which of the offseason additions for the Blackhawks will make the biggest impact on the team this year? – Erin R. (via Email)
Head: Seth Jones
Heart: Marc-André Fleury
Wisconsin Heart: Jake McCabe
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.