10 Thoughts on Blackhawks Year-End Press Conference
The Blackhawks season is officially over and on Sunday, they held their year-end press conference. The players spoke, Colliton reflects and Bowman plotted for future success.
"A disappointment" was the overall sentiment, of course. To watch Stan Bowman's presser in full, have a peep below (courtesy of NBC Chicago):
There weren't a lot of surprises from Bowman, Colliton or the players, but there were interesting tidbits that I want to touch on. Here are the top 10:
My thoughts: The season is over in the NHL, but looks like there could be a handful of Hawks that head overseas for the World Championships.
Brandon Saad, Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Connor Murphy could all end up on the US squad.
Dominik Kahun will surely be on the Germany team.
Toews, Keith and Seabrook would have the opportunity if they wanted to go for Team Canada but my prediction is none of them go. Corey Crawford could have been on that list but his groin injury needs a few weeks to heal.
My thoughts: Well, duh! I hope the same team isn't sent back out on the ice to come up with a different outcome.
Sure, they were on pace for 100-points in the last 50 games. That's great. But even in that stretch, one can't deny this team had many holes.
I'm really excited to see this "clear path forward".
My thoughts: I've been saying that there is a possibility that Cam Ward could return due to the uncertainty to Corey Crawford's health but it appears that the Hawks might be comfortable with a Crawford/Delia duo.
If this is the case, I would expect the Hawks to resign Anton Forsberg as their #3 (as I don't think they have seen enough of Kevin Lankinen yet) or they grab a veteran UFA as insurance; Michael Hutchinson, Al Montoya and/or Peter Budaj are the type of ‘tenders that you would be able to stash in the AHL for a rainy day.
It still seems little risky for me as I think Delia needs a little more time, but all signs point to him being the backup next year… which probably means he'll be the #1 for (potentially) large portions of the season next year.
My Thoughts: The Hawks defence was in question a lot on Sunday at the pressers. It's going to be magnified this offseason on how Bowman can improve the backend.
As per Colliton's comment above, as well as Bowman's statements saying it's not all on the defence, I'm really intrigued to see how it's corrected. I think you see a "mix" of a defender (or 2) brought in, but I think, just as important, you see a couple of strong 2-way forwards inserted as well.
My thoughts: Speaking of defence, the wonderful case of Erik Gustafsson pops up in thought #4 today.
I've gone back and forth on what to do with this guy and I'm still not sold on my answer to myself.
After listening to Bowman and Colliton, I think Gustafsson is here next year, however, his future beyond that is so up in the air to me.
His value is so high right now if you can move him for a proven top 4 defenceman that is a beast physically and defensively – do you do it?
… OR do you let the season play out and if Gustafsson put up another 50-60 point season to you opt to resign him for 6M+ / year or let him walk for nothing?
My thoughts: Really? Hmm. I heard that Kubalik was slated for an NHL spot next year and I found it odd that the Stan – who hasn't even officially signed him yet – would make a comment like that.
What that tells me is that they are super confident that this 23-year old kid has what it takes to stick in the NHL. I know Barry Smith has been watching him closely and he, along with Stan have commented on his size, speed and skill as being NHL ready.
I can't really question them with their history of Panarin, Kahun, Kempny and Rutta of recent years.
Next question is if this is the truth, where does Kubalik fit in the lineup?
My thoughts: Everyone is anticipating the Hawks to be more active on July 1st this year and Stan just confirmed that.
It'll be fun to see the team have the money to spend this year, however, I do get a bit nervous about overspending. My strategy would be to spend on a couple of tier 2 players (vs. the Panarin, Duchene, etc.) to help fill the depth on this team.
My thoughts: Strome obviously loves it in Chicago and why not? He's finally accepted and being put in a position to succeed for the first time in his NHL career.
Couple that with the fact that he gets to play his best buddy Alex DeBrincat and you wouldn't expect him to say anything different.
His next contract is one that I'm very curious about. I think the Hawks wait out the 2019-20 season with Strome to make sure that he can produce at both ends of the ice – with and without DeBrincat.
I like him a lot, I just don't want to go hand him a truckload of cash after a solid 50 games in the NHL when his previous track record wasn't even close to that of his recent production.
My thoughts: Colliton can afford to play Toews and Kane together now that he has Strome and DeBrincat on L2. This is a great position to be in.
I think it will be more interesting to see who rounds out those lines. Caggiula fit in nicely with Toews and Kane but can also work on a 3rd or 4th line.
Perlini caught fire with Strome and the Cat but didn't have the consistency to warrant staying with them full-time. I think you see Bowman sign a top 6 that enters into the scene which makes this team that much better in their bottom 6.
Thanks to Scott Powers (The Athletic), Mark Lazerus (The Athletic), Charlie Roumeliotis (NBCS Chicago) and John Dietz (Daily Herald) for the twitter coverage above.
My thoughts: Finally, we have to talk about Joel Quenneville.
BREAKING NEWS: Joel has signed on to be the Panthers next coach.
That is a bit of a surprise to me as I thought for sure he was heading to Philadelphia after those rumours emerged mid-season.
One thing I will say, Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman mentioned on their last 31 thoughts podcast that wherever Coach Q goes, he will want to know that he has a goalie. I wonder if Dale Tallon has promised that he'll do whatever it takes to sign Bobrovsky.
All I can say is that I'm happy for Coach Q to be back in the game and I am super happy he's in the Eastern Conference!
On Wednesday, I will be doing a year-end mailbag. Get your questions in now and I'll work them into my next blog!
Feel free to ask anything and everything. The Hawks have a lot of work ahead and while it's a playoff-less offseason, I'm still looking forward to covering a lot of areas from now until puck drop in October.
One key date on the calendar is Tuesday of this week; it's the draft lottery announcement. The Blackhawks have a 2.5% chance of winning… so don't hold your breath.
See ya out there!