What Do You Do With Dylan Strome? Lundqvist and Zubov Honored, Town Hall Update, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

After a wild 8-5 win over the Red Wings on Wednesday night, it looked as if we were going to be treated to another case of “the Avalanche are too good” last night against the Blackhawks. But after 40 minutes of that, Chicago and Colorado decided to give us a little more of what we see on Wednesday night in the third period. Splitting eight goals, the Blackhawks showed some fight in them, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to get the game to 3-2, 4-3, and 5-4 before ultimately falling 6-4 in the end. This was a game, another one, where if it were played by the same Blackhawks team that started the season, would have been over after the second period. So if you’re in the mood for moral victories, there’s one for you.

•   A catalyst to the successes of the Blackhawks in recent weeks has been Dylan Strome.

•   After being placed with Brandon Hagel and Patrick Kane on the same line, Strome’s game has sky-rocketed and he has become one of the most effective players for Chicago. Since December 5, Strome’s six goals are tied for second on the Blackhawks behind Alex DeBrincat’s 12, and his 15 points are third on the team behind DeBrincat (18) and Patrick Kane (20).

•   After a hat-trick and a four-point night against the Red Wings on Wednesday, Strome recorded a pair of assists last night for his second multi-point game of the season and his second in as many games. His two assists were also not typical of the Strome we’ve come to lament in recent seasons. His first, coming on the 3-1 goal, was a puck battle in the corner that he won and kept the play alive by getting it to Connor Murphy. Brandon Hagel tipped Murphys shot for the goal.

•   His second assist on the night came in similar fashion on the 4-3 goal in the third period. Strome and Hagel worked in the corner to win not one, but two puck battles, before Strome got the puck to Patrick Kane for his second goal of the night.

•   Strome is finding his game with Hagel and Kane. He’s not a bottom-six center who is going to be defensively responsible, he’s a top-six player who excels with someone who can score and someone who can battle. His confidence, clearly, is through the roof now after getting the opportunity and running with it. He’s doing so as the trade deadline approaches, which is both good and confusing.

•   His trade value is at its highest of the season, but also, his value to the Blackhawks is at its highest since his 2018-19 campaign with the team. There’s good reason to move him as a streaky player who is getting hot at the right time playing on a non-contender on an expiring deal. There’s also good reason to keep him as a 24-year-old who is showing potential to get back to the form he showed earlier in his young career when used correctly in a lineup. I’m not sure exactly what Chicago should do with him anymore after being very certain he needed to be moved. We shall see.

•   Speaking of moral victories, Brandon Hagel is not really here for it.

•   Derek King used the phrase that the team is almost “building for next year” and I say almost?

•   The NHL Trade Deadline is March 21, the measuring stick of where you are as a club are games like last night and Monday night against a top-tier team in the Colorado Avalanche. Chicago went 0-3-1 against Colorado this season. Yes, you are building for net year.

•   If the Blackhawks end up moving someone of value to the Avalanche, like Marc-André Fleury has been connected to recently, maybe getting Northbrook’s J.T. Compher back in a trade package wouldn’t be too bad of an idea.

•   Obviously if it’s a Fleury deal, you get more than just Compher, but Compher plus a pick and or top prospect and now we’re talking.

•   Mentioning goalies who were traded by the Blackhawks, a Happy 57th Birthday to former Chicago goaltender and Hockey Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek!

•   Oh, what could have been…

•   In case you missed this story, Nick Olczyk stepped-in for his dad, Eddie, on the Blackhawks broadcast last Saturday night against the Wild. The circumstances in which Nick, who has done a number of radio broadcasts this season for WGN and does commentary for the Indy Fuel in the ECHL, was put into the booth with Pat Foley were scary to say the least. Yet Nick Olczyk delivered an impressive performance that felt like one of the best fill-in spots anyone has had this season on a Blackhawks TV Broadcast.

•   Along with the work that he does behind the scenes for NBC Sports Chicago for Blackhawks games, I would not be surprised to see him getting either a radio or TV spot with the team very soon.

•   In Blackhawks GM search news, the “town hall” event is scheduled for February 2. Rocky and Danny Wirtz, along with President of Business Operations Jaime Faulkner will host the event that is open to fans, staff, and media and will be streamed on YouTube and Twitter.

•   We’ll get some insight to the direction of the organization and the interviewing process the team is going through to find their new permanent GM. But we’ll only learn so much, since these are still the Wirtz-owned Blackhawks and they play things close to the vest. One name we know getting interviewed is current interim GM Kyle Davidson. Another likely going to be a part of the group, according to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, is Tampa Bay Lightning Director of Hockey Operations Mathieu Darche.

•   Darche was in the running for both the Montreal Canadiens GM job and the Vancouver Canucks GM job. Chicago would be foolish not to look into someone who has been instrumental in the Lightning’s recent dominance in the NHL.

•   In prospect news, the Rockford IceHogs fell in overtime last night to the Milwaukee Admirals, 2-1. The goal came from Andrei Altybarmakyan with assists from Lukas Reichel and Jakub Galvas. That trio has been instrumental to Rockford’s success this season.

•   Reichel is the top forward prospect and top overall prospect in Chicago’s system, while Galvas has flown up the depth charts and is arguably the best defensive prospect in the Chicago system now.

•   In New York last night, a ceremony fit for a King as the Rangers retired Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30.

•   Maybe one of the best and most successful goaltenders to never win a Stanley Cup. Even so, Lundqvist will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

•   He may also be pure voodoo…

•   Hey!

•   Also getting his number retired last night was former Dallas Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov. Maybe one of the most underrated defensemen of his era, Zubov won two Stanley Cups in his career (1994 Rangers, 1999 Stars) and played 839 of his 1,068 NHL games with Dallas, fifth-most in franchise history. While he never won a Norris Trophy, he finished top-ten in voting on seven occasions.

•   The Stars honored Zubov by wearing his old No. 56 Stars sweaters and my god are the so much better than what they wear now.

•   Dallas, a word of advice, wear these full-time again. You can basically print the money you’d make with these. You’re welcome.

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

written by

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

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