All Aboard the Florida Panthers Bandwagon, Blackhawks Fans!
The Florida Panthers skate in Game 2 of their second-round series against the Maple Leafs tonight in Toronto. Florida took Game 1 with a dominant performance; the Leafs had no answer for Matthew Tkachuk and couldn’t solve Sergei Bobrovsky.
Chicago Blackhawks fans should be tuned into this series for a number of reasons. The headline of this piece might lead you to believe we’re moving on from Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty — which isn’t necessarily a terrible idea; they’re gone. But the former Blackhawks factor definitely plays into how fans align their interests in the postseason when you’re team isn’t in the dance.
However, a Florida Panthers win in this series helps the Blackhawks. With the Hawks owning the first- and second-round draft picks of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2023 NHL Draft, the Leafs eliminating the Bolts in the previous playoff round means the Blackhawks will have at worst the 20th overall pick in the first round this year.
If the Panthers can advance to the Eastern Conference Final with a series win against the Leafs, that pick will move up one more spot to No. 19 overall.
Of course the date on the calendar we care about more is next Monday night, when the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery takes place. Where Chicago’s first pick comes in the top five could change the trajectory of the franchise. But having another pick inside the top 19 would be great.
The 2023 NHL Draft has been touted as being as good and deep as any in the past decade (or longer, in the eyes of some). So having six picks in the top 56 overall is huge for the Blackhawks. Tampa’s pick moving up one more spot would be another big opportunity for Chicago to add another impact player to the organization.
So… go Panthers!