Blackhawks 2023-24 Season Review
BY JIM SEPTEMBER 15, 2023 (4:12 PM)
Recapping the 2022 draft and off-season:
The Blackhawks scored the first pick at the lottery and took Bedard with it, who changed the aspect of the franchise that night on June 28th. However, after that, the Hawks weren't done. Chicago got two first round picks from the Brandon Hagel trade, which sent him to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hagel recently signed a six year deal there. Somehow, Moore dropped to #19, and Davidson took him immediately. The stars after the first round were goalie Adam Gajan and forwards Roman Kantserov and Marcel Marcel. It was a forward heavy draft, as they only drafted one defenseman. In the off-season they were very quiet. They re-signed Andreas Athanasiou to a two year, $8.5 million contract, as well as young forward Philipp Kurashev to a two year, $4.5 million deal. The two people they snagged out of free agency were forward Ryan Donato, to a two year, $4 million deal, and Corey Perry to a one year deal. The Hawks also made a trade with the Bruins, sending young d-men Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula over to the Boston Bruins for Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall.
Going over the prospect pool:
Kyle Davidson is working with the #2 ranked prospect pool in the entire NHL. It features Connor Bedard, Kevin Korchinski, Oliver Moore, Lukas Reichel, Sam Rinzel, Frank Nazar, and more notable names. It is unknown whether the Hawks #2 prospect, Kevin Korchinski, will play this year. He will definitely play in preseason like he did last year, but the regular season is a coin toss. Bedard keeps saying he hopes he makes the lineup, but since he was drafted he has been the best player on this team and he hasn't played a single game yet. Lukas Reichel really broke out at the end of last season, having nine points in 16 games. The rest will be another couple years until they see the NHL ice.
Predicting the lines:
Hall - Bedard - Reichel
Athanasiou - Kurashev - Raddysh
Donato - Dickinson - Johnson
Foligno - Guttman - Perry
Kaiser - Jones
Philipps - Murphy
Tinordi - Zaitsev
Hall, Bedard, and Reichel should be the surefire first line. You could argue that Raddysh should be up there in place of Lukas, but Reichel has more potential to be the better player and can really benefit from some decent linemates. Athanasiou is underrated on this team. His hands and speed make him a good player. Andreas had 40 points last year and is hoping to build off of it. The third line has a chance to be decent too, with Dickinson being a dark horse in the trade that sent Riley Stillman to Vancouver. Cole Guttman is the star on the fourth line. Cole is only 24 and performed really well last season until a shoulder injury ended his season. Guttman had six points in 14 games and has a lot of upside. He can also benefit from playing next to two newly acquired veterans in Foligno (by trade) and Perry (by free agency).
Last year, the Blackhawks went 26-49-7. Now that they have Connor Bedard and a couple more added pieces, they should be on track for a few more wins. I have them at 36-36, disregarding overtime losses. Davidson and his team won't be picking first again, but a top 5 is what we should be looking at. Connor Bedard should hopefully have about 40-50 points on the season, with Lukas Reichel showing some major improvement like he did last year. Luke Richardson will also gain more experience after his first year as Head Coach, where he already did a phenomenal job. It will be a learning season, but a productive one at best.
Last year at the deadline, the Blackhawks were sellers. They sold Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, and a couple more. This year, the Hawks have more players they could possibly sell, such as Taylor Hall and Connor Murphy. Murphy's name was being thrown around at last year's deadline, but nothing happened. Things could change this year. Taylor Hall was acquired from Boston, and if he has a good season up until then, he could be a valuable trade piece. Another strategy the Hawks did last year was acquiring bad contracts off of other teams. One example is the Nikita Zaitsev trade. We got Zaitsev and a 2nd round pick. The second served as a «thank you for taking the contract off our hands.» Either way, we won't be as active as we were last year, but we will be somewhat active.
And for our last and final topic, the 2024 NHL Draft. This past draft, the Hawks got lucky and won the Draft Lottery and selected Connor Bedard first overall. Then, center Oliver Moore, a projected top 10 pick, fell down to #19 and Davidson scooped him up immediately. Will the luck continue for this year? For the lottery, unfortunately not. Chicago has a slim chance of picking first this year. Will they have a chance to win it? Sure. But they will be picking top 3, top 5 at the latest. This is a defensive heavy draft, hence why Davidson and his team got all the forwards last draft. Expect a lot of defenseman being drafted. Some notable d-men are Sam Dickinson, Artyom Levshunov, and Anton Kiviharju. There are some stud forwards, though. Macklin Celebrini is widely considered the top prospect in this class and is expected to go first overall. The Blackhawks need winger help, and Ivan Demidov and Cole Eiserman being right there is very beneficial for them.
This season will be another bridge season in this five year rebuild. It will be fun to watch the young guns develop and get better. Enjoy it folks, hockey is back.
WHEN WILL THE BLACKHAWKS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS
SEPTEMBER 15 122 ANSWERS
|UNDER 3 YEARS||79||64.8 %|
|OVER 3 YEARS||43||35.2 %|
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