Welcome back to another episode of I Get To Take Your Players. Today's contestant is the Chicago Blackhawks and I am joined by Hawks Blogger, Theo Fox!
BLACKHAWKS PROTECTION LIST
Patrick Kane - RW (NMC)
Jonathan Toews - C (NMC)
Alex DeBrincat - LW
Brandon Hagel - LW
Matthew Highmore - RW
Alex Nylander -LW
Dylan Strome - C
Duncan Keith LD (NMC)
Brent Seabrook -RD (NMC)
Lucas Carlsson - LD
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook need to be protected as they have NMCs.
Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, and Alex Nylander are protected because they are the only ones on the draft-eligibility list who have top 6 skill. If they each reach potential and show consistency, then they are well worth the protection.
While it may not make sense now why Brandon, Hagel, Matthew Highmore, and Lucas Carlsson are protected, it will make more sense in the commentary below about which forwards and defensemen were exposed.
Of these three youngsters, I am highest on Carlsson as he has potential to be a solid all-around blueliner as high as the 2nd pair. He was the best D-man on the Chicago farm team in Rockford during his first two pro seasons in North America.
Hagel and Highmore have identical playing styles with relentless compete, fearlessness, speed, and capacity to agitate from their contesting of every puck. However, Hagel has greater offensive upside to be more than a 4th liner.
Selecting which goalie to protect is tough to say today not because they’re all so good to not want to expose any of them but because none of them stand above the rest as the one to keep. It depends on who wins the starter and backup roles amongst Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen.
Matt Tomkins is exempt which would be great if he somehow emerged as the strongest of the bunch despite presently being 4th string.
For now, I opted to protect Subban but may sing a different tune once the season is underway.
Mattias Janmark and Lucas Wallmark are on one-year deals so the expectation is both are moved at the trade deadline for draft picks so there would be no need to protect them.
There would be no loss if Ryan Carpenter, Victor Ejdsell, David Kampf, Brad Morrison, Brandon Pirri, John Quenneville, or Zack Smith was drafted by Seattle as there are plenty of bottom 6 talent in the pipeline who are poised to step up in a season or so.
Then there’s Andrew Shaw. Although he says he will be ready to play this season, it is unknown whether he will last the full year. Players who miss the final 60 games of the 2020-21 season or who have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury cannot be exposed in the draft.
The same may apply to Smith.
Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy are eligible for the expansion draft but the Blackhawks could trade both of them beforehand for valuable assets, possibly as early as this offseason if Stan Bowman is in full rebuild mode.
Nikita Zadorov is an interesting case. He could be flipped at the trade deadline like Janmark and Wallmark. Of these three, I predict that Chicago may attempt to re-sign Zadorov. Even if they do, I would still protect Carlsson over him.
As for Anton Lindholm and Nick Seeler, there are solid D prospects in the system so it’s actually better for them if they can find another organization where they may have a stronger chance of securing a spot in the NHL
Brilliant write up Theo, thank you so much!
Looking at the Hawks, there aren't too many names that truly excite me here but with the team in rebuild mode, we will see players step up this season in a more prominent role. Players like Wallmark and Kampf could shoulder more responsibility.
Here are the unprotected players I am most keen on.
Andrew Shaw: Injuries have derailed his career but it was still recent when he put up 47 points in 63 games back in the 18/19 season. Need to see how he rebounds once he returns.
Nikita Zadorov: Just acquired in the trade for Brandon Saad. At 6'6 and 235lbs, Zadorov can throw his weight around and play a solid shutdown game.
Anton Lindholm: Another young defenceman who should receive more playing time than he ever could on the stacked Avalanche blueline.
Colin Delia: With Corey Crawford now gone, the Hawks have a few young goalies who will get their shot to take over as the starter. Delia has posted solid numbers in the AHL and should get a healthy dose of NHL time this season.
This pick may change after witnessing how the young goalies in Chicago fair, but for now I am going with a veteran defenseman who will remain an RFA after this season. Zadorov plays a big game and brings a unique element to his game that few in the league can replicate. I think Chicago heavily overpaid for his services but as an Expansion option he is a fine pickup for the Kraken.