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5 Burning Off-Season Questions For the Chicago Blackhawks

by Photo of Gil Santos

Greg Boysen of Second City Hockey discusses who will be the second line center, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and the draft.

5 Burning Off-Season Questions For the Chicago Blackhawks

In this article…

The Chicago Blackhawks were hoping to become the first repeat Stanley Cup champions since 1998, but an overtime goal from the Los Angeles Kings' Alec Martinez in the Conference Finals wiped those aspirations away. The Blackhawks should still be one of the top teams in the NHL next season, but now general manager Stan Bowman has the tall task of figuring out how to make this team even better. In addition, he will have to deal with Toews and Kane heading into their final contract year. This off-season should be quite busy for the Western Conference Finalist. 

To get an in-depth look at what the Blackhawks' could do in the summer, we talked to Greg Boysen of Second City Hockey

1. The Blackhawks were just one goal away from going to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final. What do you think went wrong in the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings?

It usually takes more than one thing to go wrong in order to lose a seven game series. The Blackhawks did not play very good team defense in front of Corey Crawford during the Western Conference Finals. The forwards did not do a good job preventing shots from the point and the defensemen did very little to keep the traffic out of Crawford’s field of vision. That is the recipe for disaster.

Joel Quenneville had a hard time finding ways to roll four lines until he found the combination of Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks also had to endure a few unlucky bounces including the season ending goal in overtime of Game 7, but is exactly why you avoid Game 7’s if you can. In the end, the Blackhawks just got beat by the better team.

2. The second center position is the most obvious need for the Blackhawks this off-season. Who are some players, whether it’s via trade or free agency, you would like to see Stan Bowman target? Or do you think Andrew Shaw or Marcus Kruger can do the job?

This seems to be the 867th consecutive offseason where 2nd line center is the biggest area of need. The Blackhawks have won two Stanley Cups and nearly a third this season without a true 2nd line center so I don’t see Stan Bowman breaking the bank to get one. There has been a lot of talk about the Hawks trading for Ryan Kesler but I just don’t see that happening. I think next year will be like the last few seasons where the position will be filled by whoever has the hot hand. Shaw, Kruger, Teuvo Teravainen and even Ben Smith will probably all get time in the middle. Can one of those cans grab that position and make it theirs? Only time will tell.

3. Both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are headed into the final year of their deals. Do you have any concerns about one of them potentially leaving?

Absolutely not! Both Kane and Toews have expressed their desire to retire as Blackhawks and Stan Bowman has said their extensions are his top priority this summer. These deals will get done rather quickly and I fully expect them to be announced shortly after the 1st of July. I can’t think of a better way to help ease the pain of how the season ended by announcing that the team’s best duo since Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull are here to stay for many years to come.

4. The Hawks have the 27th pick in the first round of Friday draft. What prospects intrigue you for the Hawks at that spot?

When you select 27th in the first round like the Blackhawks are you should look for the best player on the board, not necessarily your biggest need. The best player could be Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko. I did a write up about him on Tuesday at Second City Hockey.

Editor's Note: The Blackhawks traded up to 20 in the first round and selected center Nick Schmaltz.

5. If you were the general manager, what would be your ideal off-season?

My ideal offseason would be to get the Kane and Toews deals done first. Then add some depth down the middle, maybe with a guy like Olli Jokinen. I would be looking to make a move on the blue line, most likely Johnny Oduya, to not only clear up some cap space and make room for the young defensemen coming up through the system. Otherwise there is not a need to make major changes to a team that was one overtime goal away from most likely winning back to back Stanley Cups.

Greg Boysen is the managing editor of SB Nation blog Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @SCH_Greg.

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