Last year the Chicago Blackhawks finished the season ranked 21st in the NHL on the power play, scoring on 19.2 percent of their advantages. They scored 47 power play goals in 82 games, and 29 of those goals are gone — including a team-leading 14 from Alex DeBrincat.
Zero power play goals came from a defenseman last year. None. Nada. Zilch.
So how are the Blackhawks going to replace that offense?
Only four players return with a power play goal on their record from last season: Patrick Kane (9), Jonathan Toews (4), Taylor Raddysh (3) and Phillip Kurashev (2).
Clearly the Blackhawks need someone (well, multiple people) to step up and fill the voids left by the departures of other players like DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik. And on Monday we got our first look at what at least one of the power play units might look like when the season begins.
The Blackhawks spent some time working on their advantage. Toews was on a group with some younger players, including Kevin Korchinski. So who makes up that unit will change from what we saw when the season starts in Denver. But I can’t wait to see Korchinski quarterbacking the PP in Chicago.
The one unit that skated together that looks like it might have legs was loaded up, and included two new faces.
That unit was: Kane, Raddysh, Seth Jones, Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou. Domi was at center and it appeared Athanasiou was working the bumper with the point being Jones. Kane was in his right circle office and Raddysh was working the front of the net.
This is an intriguing mix, though Kane, Raddysh and Jones on the top unit was pretty easy to see happening.
Domi had zero power play goals and four helpers on the PP last year, and all four assists came in Columbus before he was traded to Carolina. He had two power play goals and one power play assist in 57 games with Columbus the prior year.
Athanasiou had two power play points — both assists — in 75 games over two seasons with the LA Kings. Including nine games in Edmonton, he has just two power play points in 84 games since he was traded out of Detroit during the 2019-20 season.
Both Domi and Athanasiou have plenty of speed and skill, so giving them a crack at the top unit makes sense. It’s also worth remembering that both signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks and figure to be players Chicago will try to raise the value of before the trade deadline, so top PP time makes sense in that regard as well.
But if the Blackhawks want production from that unit, their two new additions are going to need to click early and often.
And literally any production from the blue line would be a huge help, too.
The good news is new head coach Luke Richardson has tasked Derek Plante with managing the power play. He also ran that group at Minnesota-Duluth last year.