Looking Ahead, USA’s WJC Roster, Chicago’s Best Fighters, Stalock the Duck, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

The Blackhawks will pay respects to Rocky Wirtz on Wednesday at 11 AM CT at the United Center. NBC Sports Chicago will air the ceremony live tomorrow, and will re-play the broadcast after the White Sox postgame show later Wednesday night. The presentation will include tributes from Wirtz family members, former players, city officials, and members of the Blackhawks organization. Make sure to set your DVR device — or take an early lunch — to watch the event if you cannot attend. It’s open to the public. I’ll be there.

  • The good folks at NHL dot com are running through their 32 in 32 series, with pieces on every team in the league. Monday was their day to look at the Blackhawks. They’re posting stories looking at three big questions, top prospects and fantasy projections for each team. And they had some interesting things to say about the Blackhawks looking ahead to the coming season.
  • In their “top prospects” piece, NHL dot com lists Connor Bedard, Lukas Reichel, Kevin Korchinski, Alex Vlasic and Cole Guttman as their five names to watch. We’ve already seen Reichel, Vlasic and Guttman in the NHL for some action; it would appear Reichel and Vlasic are ready for prime time, but Guttman will have his work cut out for him with the veteran additions to the roster. I was intrigued that Guttman made their list after a solid rookie season that was ended prematurely because of an injury.
  • In their three questions for the Blackhawks, one brought up the Blackhawks’ captaincy situation. They identify Connor Murphy and Seth Jones as possible options, but note the following strong possibility:
  • Or do the Blackhawks leave the captaincy vacant this season and name Bedard to that role next season? The Edmonton Oilers did that in 2015-16, the rookie season of McDavid, their No. 1 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, before naming him captain the following season.

  • In the fantasy projections piece, the four key players they list are Bedard, Reichel, Jones and Taylor Hall. The writers project Bedard to have 78 points and Hall at 72 to lead the Blackhawks, with Reichel posting 59 and Jones at 62. I’ve discussed this previously when considering Jones’ fantasy profile for the coming season: his numbers could be significantly impacted by what they ultimately choose to do with Korchinski. If the top defense prospect makes — and stays on — the NHL roster, he’ll likely be a big factor on the power play. That would hurt Jones’ production, though we’ve all talked about the lack of scoring from Blackhawks’ defensemen on the PP in recent years. I like the idea of Hall passing the 70-point mark; he’s driven and will be in a great position to produce this season.
  • Yesterday we looked at some roster projections for the United States (and Canada) for the upcoming World Junior Championship. The folks at The Athletic and FloHockey have varying opinions on the four Blackhawks skaters — Frank Nazar, Gavin Hayes, Oliver Moore and Sam Rinzel — on the roster, but they agree all four are likely to get invites. They all see Moore as an extra forward (not in the top-12) but differ on Rinzel’s spot on the blue line.
  • One of the good problems the US will have in the tournament this coming winter is their center depth. As we’ve discussed previously, Minnesota’s coaches have talked about Moore possibly getting some run on the wing — but that was before Logan Cooley went pro. All of the analysts note the US squad could use some size on the lineup and like Hayes on a bigger fourth line. Moore’s speed and playmaking ability could make him a dangerous weapon to use all over the lineup.
  • It is interesting to see some comments continue to note that there’s some maturation still needed in Rinzel’s game. Again, he was drafted in the first round last year as a long-term project, and the Blackhawks like that he’ll be working with an excellent coaching staff at Minnesota in the coming years. His size and skating are his best attributes, but he’s still working on consistency as a defenseman.
  • The Hockey News is running a series looking at the best fighters in franchise histories. There are some fun names on the roster they put together, including Al Secord, Dave Manson, Keith Magnuson, Chris Chelios and, of course, Bob Probert. Who is your favorite fighter in Blackhawks history? Share in the comments! (Note: we will not be accepting Tim Anderson as a candidate… we’d like guys who won fights.) I’m going with The Grim Reaper, Stu Grimson.
  • Alex Stalock was great for the Blackhawks last year. He was fun to watch on the ice and engaging in the room. He’s dealt with more than his share of injuries over the past few years, so it was great to see him land another gig in the league. He signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Ducks on Monday.
  • The Blackhawks are on Puckdoku today! Let’s hear your answers for the Chicago squares!
  • We’ve got a depth chart for the Chicago Bears — the first of the 2023 season. Football is coming, folks! Are you following our Bears coverage yet? If not… WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
  • Finally, one thing baseball has on hockey is theatrical manager ejections. A bench minor rarely comes with a coach losing his stuff. But in baseball, all hell can break loose. And last night on the south side of Chicago, Aaron Boone got his money’s worth telling Laz Diaz exactly what he thought about the strike zone.
  • written by

    Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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