What if there was a 33rd Expansion Team of only former Blackhawks?

Published May 27, 2023 at 11:30 PM

Watching this year's Stanley Cup playoffs fans can't help but notice there are quite a few former Blackhawks playing prominent roles on their new teams. Which begs the question, what if there was an expansion team built of only former Blackhawks players?

Rather than going pick by pick like a typical Expansion Draft Show, this hypothetical team has already been picked (and within the salary cap) so lets go through the lines.

F1: Artemi Panarin - Philip Danault - Teuvo Teräväinen
Combined Cap hit: $22,542,857

A balanced top line of a dynamic player in Panarin, a great two-way center in Danualt, and the skilled playmaker in Teräväinen. Panarin and Teräväinen will driving the offense and likely finish as the top 2 scorers on this team. It's no secret Panarin is one of the top offensive threats in the league but Teräväinen has flown under the radar and developed a solid defensive game to pair with his skills as a top line playmaker. These two would be a treat to watch on opposite wings and running a powerplay together. While Danualt might not have the offensive stats of a top line center, his two-way game and defensive prowess have proven he's more than capable of matching up against other teams top players.

F2: Brandon Saad - Nick Schmaltz - Anthony Duclair
Combined Cap hit: $13,350,000

This line can be summed up in one word, SPEED. This line will be able to generate offense off the rush utilizing the shifty wheels of both Schmaltz and Duclair, and the straight line speed of Saad. They should also get the benefit of weaker line match ups as Panarin should draw the attention of opponents top lines. Schmaltz and Duclair have gone onto to prove they can consistently put up offense since leaving the Blackhawks. While Saad's two-way game, leadership, and playoff experience make him a great addition into the top six forwards.

F3: Ryan Hartman - Pius Suter - Brandon Hagel
Combined Cap hit: $6,450,000

While Hartman proved this season he can play in the top six on the Minnesota Wild, his style of play and low cap hit make him a great option for depth scoring on this team. When it comes to Suter, although he is 26 years-old, Suter is still relatively young in terms of NHL experience just finishing his second pro season. Bringing to the team a career points-per-game average of .46 and a faceoff percentage of 46.3% the 3rd line center spot seems like a good fit. Then there is the hardworking, gritty, fan favorite in Brandon Hagel. The wingers of this line are capable of bouncing up and down the line up if need be, but together provide depth to our hypothetical team.

F4: Ryan Carpenter - David Kampf - Tyler Motte
Combined Cap hit: $3,725,000

Rounding out the forwards brings in responsible defenders and penalty kill options in Kampf and Carpenter. While Motte brings hardworking depth with some speed and some playoff experience he's earned in the years since leaving the Blackhawks.

Now to the defensive core, which admittedly might not have many names that pop like the forwards, but there are some youngsters capable of taking that next step.

D1: Nick Leddy - Henri Jokiharju
Combined Cap hit: $8,000,000

While this isn't your typical top line pairing they're going to be to give the team solid minutes and move the puck well. Jokiharju has shown he can hold his own playing top 4 minutes on the Buffalo Sabres, and at only 22 years-old he still has room to grow. While Leddy is still the smooth skating defenseman who has averaged just over 21 minutes TOI since leaving the Blackhawks.

D2: Duncan Keith - Adam Boqvist
Combined Cap hit: $6,432,167

While this pairing might not have been too pretty to watch on the Blackhawks under Coach Colliton, a new system and less responsibility should serve these two well together. An aged Keith likely isn't in the conversation for another Norris Trophy, but he does still bring tons of experience and leadership to the team. Boqvist has progressed offensively every year and might just need a coach to give him the greenlight to do what he was drafted to do: generate offense.

D3: Gustav Forsling - Nikita Zadorov
Combined Cap hit: $6,416,667

While the makeup of this defensive core is built around moving the puck quickly out of the zone and up the ice, there is still the need for a big body which is where Zadorov comes in. At 6'5" and 235lbs Zadorov's here to lay down a big hit when need be and out muscle forwards in net battles. His partner Forsling brings more smooth skating and puck movement to round out the backend.

Now for what might be our hypothetical team's strength, goaltending.

Starter: Robin Lenher
Back up: Anti Raanta
Combined Cap hit: $7,000,000

Now while some may be wondering why Marc Andre Fluery's name is missing from above, that was a direct choice out of respect for a great player and person who has dealt with too much expansion team drama already. While there is concern for injury with both of their pasts, their skill level when healthy and contracts give this team a great 1-2 combo with out having to overwork either.

Now for the extra forwards and defenseman to round out our hypothetical expansion roster.

EX: Vinnie Hinostroza - Drake Caggulia - Jan Rutta
Combined cap hit: $3,100,00

Hinotroza and Caggulia both add depth and the ability to fill in on different lines up and down the roster. While Hinostroza adds more speed, Caggulia brings a bit of an edge and physicality. Rutta on the other hand has been a solid bottom pair defenseman on a championship team, so he's able to add stability and reliability to this young offensive minded defensive core.

That leaves this team with a final cap hit of $77,917,153 with $3,582,847 left in cap room. Feel free to let me know in the comments if there is anyone missing that belongs here as well as cast your vote on if this team can make the playoffs in the poll below!
May 27   |   116 answers
What if there was a 33rd Expansion Team of only former Blackhawks?

Would this team be a playoff contender?

No, they'll be contending for the lottery though.3933.6 %
Yes, but only with the right coach.2420.7 %
Maybe, they're on the playoff bubble.3227.6 %
Yes, but would lose to the Avs Round 1.2118.1 %
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