Lockout Thoughts, New-Look Powerplay, Seabrook Behind the Bench, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Lockout Thoughts, New-Look Powerplay, Seabrook Behind the Bench, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

I’m not a big baseball person myself. I’m admittedly not a Cubs fan, even though I’m working under the Bleacher Nation umbrella (Michael: Wait …. WHAT?! Someone get HR down here ASAP). The work text group has been buzzing over the past 24-48 hours with the goings-on in Major League Baseball. Last night, the MLB his a work stoppage and many woke up to the league being under a lockout.

•   Now I may not be a baseball fan, but I know a little about lockouts being a hockey fan. This isn’t the first rodeo for MLB fans and work stoppages. In 1994 the league went on strike in the middle of the season and lost the World Series for the first time since 1904. In the NHL, the league missed half of the 1994-95 season due to a lockout. Then again in the 2004-05 season, the NHL lost the entire year. And again in the 2012-13 season, the league lost half the year. It always sucks and no one seems to “win” in these situations. The fans lose the games, the players lose money, and the owners lose in the court of public opinion. Eventually, everyone works things out, players and owners get their money and the fans get their games back.

•   Luckily for the Cubs, they got some roster moves done before the CBA expired, most notably landing pitcher Marcus Stroman.

•   Seems like a big deal. Good for the Cubs.

•   Back to hockey now. The Blackhawks face the Washington Capitals tonight in Washington for the first game after a three-day mini-break for Chicago. Much of that break was spent working on the powerplay, an aspect of the game that Chicago has been terrible at in their last dozen or so games. After Jonathan Toews expressed disinterest in playing the “bumper” role on the man-advantage, the units were jumbled by Derek King and now look like this:

•   What stands out to me is that Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat are split-up between the unites. That will be interesting to see how long it lasts, if even more than one or two powerplay opportunities.

•   Another thing that stands out is the use of both Dylan Strome and Henrik Borgström on the powerplay units. Strome has been lackluster this season with just three points in 12 games played and has been scratched multiple times. Borgström has been in and out of the lineup due to illnesses, both COVID and non-COVID and has just two points in 12 games this season, playing mostly in a bottom-six role. Both players landed on Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s December trade market list today:

•   Strome I get. We’ve pondered about the possibility of trading him for Jake DeBrusk. But Borgström seems like player who hasn’t been able to get his year started for different reasons than Strome. He played all of last season in Finland and looked poised to have a bounce back in his return to the NHL in a new home in Chicago. I’m less eager to deal Borgström at this point in the season than I am Strome.

•   As for Alex DeBrincat, he sat down with NBC Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis to talk about his season, making a name for himself around the league, and potentially (definitely) playing for Team USA at the Olympics.

•   That is, if the NHL still sends players to the Olympics. Which looks less and less likely to happen.

•   DeBrincat is due a new deal after next season and if he continues on this trajectory, he’s going to be a $10M player. There’s little doubt to that after seeing the deal Jack Hughes got and where most $10M players in the NHL are at in their careers. DeBrincat is there. As for Kirby Dach, another future fixture to the organization, he is far from a $10M player.

•   I feel like Dach is going to get a bridge-deal to figure out what kind of player he is exactly. His entry-level deal ends this season and unless he breaks out in the next 60 games, he’ll likely be provided a “prove it” period in his second contract with Chicago.

•   Continuing the rundown of players on the powerplay, Erik Gustafsson is running the show on the second unit and he’s been doing so rather successfully this season. I know I was very harsh on the return of Gustafsson to the Blackhawks after the injuries to Caleb Jones and Wyatt Kalynuk, but as Scott Powers lays out, Gustafsson has actually been one of the most effective defensemen for Chicago this season.

•   He’s making it difficult to replace him in the lineup after the returns of Jones and Kalynuk.

•   A big shoutout to Illinois-native, U.S. Olympian, and Blackhawks development coach Kendall Coyne-Schofield for being named one of Forbes’ list of the most influential people in sports under 30-years-old!

•   Coyne-Schofield was one of two women’s hockey players on the list, as she was joined by Mikyla Grant-Metis of the Toronto Six.

•   Speaking of coaches, it looks like former Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook will be doing some volunteer coaching in the WHL.

•   Seabrook is filling-in with the Vancouver Giants while their head coach is away with Team Canada for the upcoming World Junior Championships. The former three-time Stanley Cup winner joined the Giants last night for their game against Colton Dach and the Kelowna Rockets. The Giants won 5-3, but Dach got on the board with a powerplay goal, his ninth of the season.

•   Dach has nine goals and 16 points this season with Kelowna in 17 games.

•   News around the league today as it appears the Arizona Coyotes, once again, are up for sale.

•   Of course the team has denied any sort of potential sale…

•   The team was sold in 2019 to Alex Meruelo. The NHL doesn’t allow for a team to be purchased and relocated within a seven-year period.

•   Speaking of Arizona, Auston Matthews tallied this nasty goal as one of his three last night.

•   The Maple Leafs blew-out the Colorado Avalanche last night and are on a tear over their last 17 games.

•   We’ve seen this movie before with the Maple Leafs though…wait until the postseason and then come and talk to me.

•   It was an active night in Canada on the ice with the Maple Leafs blowing out the Avalanche and newest Ottawa Senator Adam Gaudette scoring his first goal with the club in his first game.

•   Of course he did. Good for Gaudette, though, getting a chance with the Senators is what he needed this season and wasn’t getting in Chicago.

•   In that same game, J.T. Miller decided to do his best Connor McDavid impression…

•   Nasty.

•   Of course there truly is only one Connor McDavid. With a four-point night against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins last night, McDavid joined teammate Leon Draisaitl in the 40-point club this season. An exclusive club just for the two of them right now.

•   It’s truly incredible the run these two are having. Not since we were playing NHL games on Sega Genesis has the league seen a dominant duo like McDavid and Draisaitl this season.

•   Finally in the AHL last night, the Rockford IceHogs got a 3-1 win over the Milwaukee Admirals thanks to a two-goal night from Evan Barratt.

•   That trio that connected on the 3-1 goal have been on fire recently for the IceHogs, who have won back-to-back games against Milwaukee and have points in five of their last six games (4-1-1).

•   The IceHogs will host their annual Teddy Toss and Night of Giving= on December 11th to benefit local Rockford charities. Always a fun night.

•   That will do it for today. Hope you all can enjoy your Thursday!

•   We will see you later tonight for Blackhawks-Capitals at 6:00 p.m. CT.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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