Leadership Showing, Injury Updates, '23 Draft Talk, November Grades, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Leadership Showing, Injury Updates, ’23 Draft Talk, November Grades, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks flew to New York after practice yesterday and will skate at Madison Square Garden today. Ian Mitchell is with the team on the trip; we’ll see if he gets into the lineup in any of the three games. It’s going to be a tough trip with two of the three teams — the Islanders and Devils — playing very well right now and the Rangers one of the teams many feel could be in the mix for a deep playoff run when the dust settles after the trade deadline.

  • If you were wondering about the mood in the room, the Blackhawks are certainly struggling their way through the current losing streak. But we’ve seen some moments along the way that continues to reinforce the buy-in from the veterans on the roster (especially Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) to what head coach Luke Richardson is trying to build.
  • This nugget from Richardson not only speaks to Toews buying into what they’re trying to do, but serves as another great example of the longest tenured captain in Blackhawks history stepping up to serve as an example for the younger players on the roster.
  • The players-only meeting that took place a week ago was more of the older players on the roster letting every guy in the room know that every single roster spot has value and needs to play with an expectation of success. There are now two players in the room with rings; the dynasty is down to Toews and Kane. And they have tried to remind the others in the room that what was achieved in the sweaters they’re all now wearing together doesn’t entitle them to anything. This is a new day for the Blackhawks and everything needs to be earned.
  • Richardson provided a brief update on the health of a couple guys still missing in action. Jarred Tinordi was placed on IR on Thursday morning. He’ll miss another week; his IR stay was retroactive to Nov. 27. Alex Stalock isn’t progressing as well as certainly he would hope, much less the team. Concussions suck (I’ve had a few). Here’s hoping he can get himself right again, because he fought his way back to have a really nice start to this seson.
  • Patrick mentioned in yesterday’s bullets that Tyler Johnson was wearing a walking boot on Wednesday night. Richardson’s update on him was not as encouraging as we would like. A couple weeks ago it looked and sounded like he was close to coming back; Richardson even said he might be an option for the game against Pittsburgh after the Marian Hossa ceremony. But here we are a couple weeks later and his recovery appears to be trending in the wrong direction.
  • Corey Pronman from The Athletic joined the guys at the Blackhawks Talk podcast to talk about the upcoming draft class and talked a little about some of the Blackhawks’ top prospects.
  • He said there’s a “really deep” top of the draft with some elite prospects at the top. That shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve been reading us this year. And he has four “high end” forwards in the top group now: Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov and Leo Carlsson, a center from Sweden. He says any of those four would have been good enough to be the top overall pick in the last two draft classes.
  • They talk about Bedard’s size being a question if he sticks at center; many of the comps Pronman hears are elite wingers like Kane. Because of that, he said there are a few front offices that might prefer Fantilli at No. 1 because he’s viewed as a sure-fire No. 1 center in the NHL.
  • Carlsson’s name hasn’t been thrown around a lot in the broader conversation about the top three picks, but Pronman said he’s legitimately in that conversation. He could be a center in the NHL; his skating isn’t as good as Fantilli but he “looks like a really good player.” And, unlike Michkov, he won’t be in Russia for three more years.
  • Next year’s draft is very good and deep, but the drop off from the top four to five is significant. But Pronman mentions center Will Smith as a guy who might be in that conversation for the fifth overall pick. His strong season with the US National Development Team has opened a lot of eyes this season.
  • How does the top end of the draft look for defensemen? “Not ideal.” Thankfully the Blackhawks have a lot of guys coming and grabbed a potentially elite defenseman last year in Kevin Korchinski. He names Isaak Phillips as a big, mobile defenseman who stands out in the Blackhawks’ prospect pool.
  • Pronman was asked about how he values a player performing in the World Juniors. “It’s a different level of competition,” especially when you’re looking at guys who climb the lineup for teams like Canada, the US and Sweden.
  • He likes what he’s heard about the progression of Lukas Reichel and can see him being a top-six winger in the NHL at some point.
  • I dropped player grades for November yesterday and earlier this morning. How did I rate the play of the forwards, defensemen and goaltenders after a brutally bad month? Let’s just say there weren’t many (any) As handed out.
  • Marian Hossa signed copies of his book in the capital of Slovakia recently and let’s just say Chicago isn’t the only place people will wait in line for a long time to meet the greatest free agent signing in the history of our city.
  • Finally, with “huge free agent addition” players on our minds, how do we feel about Dansby Swanson playing short on the North Side? Sounds like at least one person thinks it could happen.

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