WJC Starts Today, Center Concerns, '23 Draft Rankings, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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WJC Starts Today, Center Concerns, ’23 Draft Rankings, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Happy There’s Actual, Real Hockey Happening Today Day, Blackhawks fans! The World Juniors start today, so we’ll have a chance to watch five of the Blackhawks’ prospects over the next few weeks playing for their respective countries.

  • With the World Juniors starting early this afternoon, we’ve got your entire game schedule for the Blackhawks’ prospects right here.
  • Travis Yost at TSN continued his rankings of positional depth around the NHL on Monday with center rankings. The Blackhawks finished in his bottom tier with Columbus and Arizona.
  • These rankings come with a strong note about Jonathan Toews. Here’s what Yost had to say about the Blackhawks’ center — and captain — situation.

The Blackhawks are an interesting team in this scenario. It’s rather grim behind – the same that has been talked about as a likely trade candidate for a rebuilding Blackhawks organization. At his peak, Toews was perhaps the preeminent two-way centre, and as a trade option, his expiring contract ($10.5-million AAV) minimizes a buyer’s long-term risk. Which is a risk to consider. Toews turns 35 years old this season, and his numbers are on serious decline. Toews has just 30-goals in the past two seasons, and more concerning, teams are now scoring with high frequency against Toews’ line. Add it all up, and that’s how you end a season with opponents out-scoring the Toews’ line 57-45 at even-strength last year – a low-mark for his otherwise illustrious career.

  • I will say this about Toews, however. While his production was down across the board last year, he produced 8 goals and 10 assists in the season’s final 28 games — which is a 23-goal pace over 82 games. He isn’t a point-per-game player any more, but the production should bounce back from last year with a fully healthy offseason workout regimen. And Toews has indicated he is fully healthy once again.
  • Speaking of The Captain, fans have been vocal on social media and radio stations asking what the future holds from Toews. After the years he has given us, the fans, and the organization, does Toews owe us an immediate answer about his future? We discussed what he owes us — and what fans owe him — yesterday.
  • When I played football in college, one of our coaches used to say “be the hammer, not the nail.” I thought of that when I saw our friends at JFresh tweet interesting projections on Monday afternoon. Which forwards will be the hammer most frequently? And which will be on the receiving end of hits more times than not? Toews and Patrick Kane both found themselves on the “nail” side of their lists.
  • The New York Rangers have a new captain. Jacob Trouba is a fascinating selection given all of the options on their roster because there is a portion of the Rangers’ fan base that expects him to be on the trade block if/when they need to make a bold move to help the offense. Trouba, 28, has four years remaining on his current contract.
  • Scott Wheeler over at The Athletic dropped his initial prospect rankings for the 2023 NHL Draft. We’ve got this (and other rankings) bookmarked to see how they evolve in the coming months as the Blackhawks sprint to the lottery.
  • Finally, who doesn’t love a veteran asking his front office to trade him this time of year? Oh, it isn’t a Blackhawks player? It’s Roquan Smith??

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab