The Bedard End Game, Future Roster Thoughts, NHL Heading To Australia, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
The Blackhawks went into Pittsburgh to face a Penguins team that had a playoff berth on the line and scored four goals in the third period to steal a win. The cost: two spots in the Bad for Bedard Sweepstakes standings. What makes matters worse, the Blue Jackets added a single point last night with an overtime loss. So in the final days of the regular season, one point separates three teams at the bottom of the barrel. Columbus has two remaining games while Anaheim and Chicago have one. And, again, the Blackhawks have the most regulation wins of the three so they have the worst tie-breaker position.
- Jarred Tinordi received a one-year extension from the Blackhawks on Tuesday. With him returning, the Blackhawks now have five defensemen currently on the NHL roster signed through at least next year: Tinordi, Seth Jones, Connor Murphy, Nikita Zaitsev and Wyatt Kaiser.
- My assumption right now is that Kaiser will spend some time in Rockford next season. With that being said, the Blackhawks should feel pretty good about promoting Alex Vlasic and Isaak Phillips to the NHL next season. Filip Roos should probably be up as well. So it kinda-sorta feels like the Blackhawks’ blue line is nearly set for next year. However, I’m still on board with buying out Zaitsev to open up a roster spot and ice time for a younger player. I’ve seen enough of him and the younger players that I’d prefer the next wave to get NHL time.
- Also keep in mind that the Blackhawks will have some of the next-next wave joining Rockford next year, including Ethan Del Mastro and Nolan Allan. I feel pretty good about the future of the Blackhawks on the back end right now. That situation should be improving quickly.
- That also means guys like Caleb Jones and Ian Mitchell are… still fighting for a spot? I think it’s pretty obvious that Mitchell might be a change of scenery candidate at this point with the frequency he’s been scratched since the trade deadline, but Caleb being allowed to walk is an interesting play with his brother being the highest paid player on the roster.
- The Blackhawks made the Drew Commesso signing official on Tuesday. Congrats, Drew! He’ll head to Rockford on a PTO. And he shared that he’s super excited for the opportunity to join the Blackhawks organization.
- With Commesso signed, and the assumption that the Blackhawks re-sign pending RFA Arvid Söderblom, it also feels like the depth chart is almost set in net. Petr Mrazek and either Söderblom or Jaxson Stauber figure to be on the NHL roster with Commesso and the other of Söderblom/Stauber in Rockford. And my guess is Söderblom would be more inclined to re-sign if he has some certainty of NHL ice time.
- With all of that being said, the Blackhawks obviously have some roster spots opening up front in both Chicago and Rockford. So watching for names of prospects that might be available becomes a fun way to pass time between now and May 8 (the Draft Lottery). One player who will reportedly be available and I’m at least intrigued by is Jayden Grubbe. Frank Seravalli reported on Tuesday that the Rangers will not sign their third-round pick from 2021.
- The NHL announced on Tuesday that the LA Kings will face the Arizona Coyotes at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia in September. This is a pretty cool opportunity to continue expanding the game across the globe, and the Kings are a good team. I understand and appreciate that the NHL wanted to have teams from the southwest in the game for the whole regional rivalry part of the game making sense, but… Arizona? Really? I guess when your home games are played on a college campus, playing on tennis courts isn’t that crazy.
- Finally, I appreciate that many fans in Chicago have said in recent months that every team in this town should play in a dome because of the weather. Weeks like this make that feel crazy, but there’s a good case to be made. And the Bears will certainly have a roof on their new setup in Arlington Heights. But when you’re on the north side of the city and moments like Nelson Velazquez’s home run happen… I just can’t imagine a Chicago where you can’t hear the Cubs succeeding from blocks away.
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