Blackhawks Monday Mailbag: Prospects Making the NHL Roster, “Ripped” Toews, Disappointment Theater, More

The Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase has come and gone and all that is standing between us and the Blackhawks beginning training camp are two little things call Tuesday and Wednesday. With the club set to begin the 2021-22 season on Thursday, let’s dive into the Monday Mailbag one more time before we actually have Blackhawks on the ice for hockey that matters.

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: Which prospect has the best chance to make the Opening Night roster? – @CLEZach (via Twitter)

Simple question with a simple answer: Lukas Reichel.

He’s coming into camp after standing out amongst the rest of the Blackhawks prospects at the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase this past weekend and he’s coming to training camp as a 19-year-old who has already played two seasons of professional hockey against men in the DEL in Germany.

Some people have Reichel already penciled into a top-six role with the Blackhawks heading into camp, but I’m a bit more reserved than that. I’d like to see him earn his way into the lineup by being one of the better players on the roster during the preseason.

If he isn’t ready, he isn’t ready.

There’s no harm in him going to Rockford and playing in the AHL at any point this year, especially to start it. Outside of Reichel, maybe a guy like Jakub Galvas or Alec Regula mix things up in the defensive rotation.

Question 2: With this report that Jonathan Toews is “ripped” ahead of camp, do you still think he can’t be the No. 1 Center for the Hawks? – Sean J. (via Email)

In case you missed it earlier on Monday, the consensus around the return of Jonathan Toews is that he has never looked stronger and the term “ripped” was used as he prepares for his comeback. If this is truly the start of Toews showing that he really is fully healthy, and really is ready to play a full 82-game season in the NHL, then that is great. If this is cliché “I’m in the best shape of my life” fodder, then we will find that out very quickly.

We saw it with Brent Seabrook as he began to decline, we saw it with Patrick Sharp when he returned to the Blackhawks in 2017-18, they were in the best shapes of their lives and it meant nothing. David Kämpf is a gym rat and wins triathlons, but that didn’t translate to him being the No. 1 center for the Blackhawks. Which, by the way, I never said Toews wouldn’t be able to be. I hope he can be, but if he can’t, I hope that someone can fill that role this season, otherwise Chicago is in trouble.

Question 3: Which player is going to disappoint the most and why is it Dylan Strome? – Kori C. (via Email)

I think people want Dylan Strome to disappoint so that it makes it easier to get rid of him. Which, sure, he hasn’t looked like the same Dylan Strome that came to the Blackhawks during the 2018-19 season, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. He’s still just 24-years-old and maybe he isn’t a No. 1 or No. 2 center in the NHL. Maybe he’s not even a top-six wing in the NHL. But if Strome can fit into a third-line option, whether at center or on the wing, he can be serviceable to the Blackhawks. And if you really want to dump him that badly, if he plays well in that kind of role, he could be flipped at the trade deadline if the Blackhawks are out of contention.

I don’t like to dabble too much in the negative, but to answer the question outside of Strome, I don’t know why but I feel like Kevin Lankinen might be a candidate to be on disappointment watch. He won the starting role last season and until the Marc-André Fleury trade, it was his net to lose in Chicago. I want him to succeed, but something is telling me he’s on the good season/bad season fence. I hope I’m wrong.

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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