The Future of the Chicago Blackhawks

Stephanie Racker Based on the performance of the Chicago Blackhawks in their humiliating loss to the Nashville Predators, the team’s future looks grim. Although there’s no way of knowing what the Chicago Blackhawks’ future holds, it’s evident that the team will need to revamp. Luckily, the Hawks do have several prospects that might be able to help the team in its quest to regain greatness. In fact, the team managed to snag 19 year old prospect Alex DeBrincat during the 2016 NHL Draft. DeBrincat, drafted 39th overall, recently won the Red Tilson Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding player of the Ontario Hockey League. After scoring 65 goals in 63 games for the Erie Otters, it’s evident that DeBrincat’s small 5ft 7in frame did not hinder his ability to succeed. General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks Stan Bowman remains confident in his decision to draft Alex DeBrincat, saying, “I think he has elite talent, and that’s what’s allowed him to do that. Alex is not that far from being an NHL player. The biggest thing for him is the strength and physicality. That’s going to be a big step up from the league he’s at right now.’’ Because of his size, DeBrincat has faced criticism for his ability to play at an elite level like the NHL. However, the Erie Otter player has proved that size is just a number and has flourished because of his dexterity with the stick and puck. Plus, hockey in the NHL has shifted gradually from being oriented towards players with larger frames to players who are adaptable on the ice. Not only were the Chicago Blackhawks able to lock down elite prospect Alex DeBrincat, but the Hawks also happen to have Yale product John Hayden, who got his first taste of the NHL during the final quarter of the season. He played a total of 12 games with the Hawks, including one playoff appearance. Although the rookie only posted 3 points this season, his performance during his senior year at Yale foreshadows his capabilities once he is adapted to this new environment. Hayden’s style of play mirror’s former Blackhawks Brian Bickell’s style as both men are large in stature and know how to use their size to their advantage. Unfortunately, greater size can sometimes mean a lack of speed, which is something Hayden will need to continue improving in order to play with a team like the Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach Joel Quenneville spoke about John Hayden’s play after moving the rookie up to the first line in March, “He looks like he can add an element to our team…He’s a direct player and we don’t want him to change that too much.” Although Hayden still has some work cut out for him, including becoming more familiar with the Chicago system, the team seems confident in the rookie’s ability to contribute to the Hawks in the future. Stan Bowman and the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks organization have found themselves in the same situation the Pittsburgh Penguins were in a few seasons ago. Their top stars aren’t producing and the salary cap is still placing pressure on Chicago’s tiny pool of money reserved for future salaries. That being said, the Chicago Blackhawks have several young players (Alex DeBrincat, John Hayden, Ryan Hartman, Vincent Hinestroza, Tyler Motte, Alexander Fortin just to name a few) that will hopefully be able to step up to the plate and provide the Chicago Blackhawks some much needed cheap talent. ]]>