Despite making headlines throughout the past few weeks as a result of heated trade rumours that began to circle the Chicago Blackhawks, there hasn’t been much in the way of confirmed news to share — yet. However, there is no shortage of topics for this rebuilding franchise to focus on in the meantime.
In this edition of Blackhawks News & Rumours, we’ll reflect back on one of the most meaningful events in club history, touch on the current state of their stars, and look ahead to what the future could hold.
Kane Drafted 15 Years Ago
The Blackhawks have only had one first overall pick throughout that nearly 60-year span that the NHL Entry Draft has been in effect. Good thing for them, their choice was an obvious one. On June 22, 2007, after winning that year’s lottery, Chicago drafted Patrick Kane.
Thrust into the then-struggling lineup a mere few months later, Kane has been meaningfully impactful every since. Not only did he score the game-winner to help them capture the 2010 Stanley Cup, but he was a key member of the rosters that went on to win three within that six-year span between 2010-2015.
Kane has also already won a Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award, along with a multitude of All-Star Game appearances.
While he might not be taking in as much hardware these days, the rest of the league remains on high alert when he’s on the ice. And rightfully so.
What’s more, age hasn’t slowed him down. At 33, Kane will enter the 2022-23 campaign having led his Blackhawks in points for the past seven seasons in a row. Even if his production begins to decline, as would be a natural occurrence at this point in his career, that level of consistent prowess has placed him among the all-time franchise greats. He’s also built quite the case to be considered the best US-born player in league history.
Looking back on all that Kane has accomplished to date, it’s safe to say that drafting him first overall has worked out quite well for the Blackhawks.
DeBrincat Trade Rumours Continue
With news spreading that practically every Blackhawk will be made available this offseason, it didn’t take long for Alex DeBrincat‘s name to hit the headlines. Easily the next face of this franchise if he sticks around, behind only Kane at this point, DeBrincat is already stepping up in a way that suggests he’s their most important piece.
Clearly, the rest of the NHL isn’t going to debate just how good the 41-goal scorer has already been throughout his first five campaigns. What likely excites others most, though, is that he’s still only 24 years old. It makes sense to hear that he’s being as heavily targeted as he reportedly is.
With that all said, this team owning their reality as a rebuild doesn’t mean they have to succumb to a plan that sees them start from scratch. Sure, there are important moves that need to be made to help support that their focus is on re-strategizing. But hoping to extract potential value out of picks and prospects for a proven star that’s already in the system and only entering their prime is an unworthy gamble.
The fact of the matter is, the Blackhawks are a ways away from contending and those that stick around for the ride have to be comfortable with that. Not only has DeBrincat stepped up in the meantime, but he’s the exact type of player a rebuilding franchise should hold on to, so that they can collectively reap the rewards they’ll be due in future years.
Already an all-star, the leadership and influence that DeBrincat infuses into a developing squad being pushed to reach his type of talent benefits all. Hopefully, the Blackhawks let logic into the equation rather than being blinded by the bloated offers that are sure to be sent their way.
Luypen Wins WHL Title
Jalen Luypen, Chicago’s seventh-round pick in 2021, has added a Western Hockey League (WHL) championship to his accolades. The 19-year-old racked up nine points through 19 postseason contests, helping his Edmonton Oil Kings punch their ticket into the 2022 Memorial Cup.
As Luypen looks to gain even more meaningful experience before this campaign concludes, that type of storyline bodes well for the Blackhawks’ future. Having their prospects achieve at such heights is exactly what a rebuilding franchise hopes for.
It’s still too early to tell if Luypen will ever find his way into an NHL dressing room, or the role he’d play if he does, but that the teenager has earned progressively better numbers through each of his last four campaigns in the WHL certainly works to his advantage.
Having tallied 64 points through 66 contests last season, it should at least pique Chicago’s curiosity as to whether or not that type of talent would translate at their level of play.
Huska Could Be New Head Coach
Soon after the rumour leaked that Ryan Huska was to be named the Blackhawks’ next head coach, it was retracted quickly thereafter. Does that mean there is a lack of legitimacy to the initial claim? Not necessarily.
What it does mean, however, is that the organization has yet to officially announce anything of the sort. It’s been no secret that Chicago has been actively seeking the right fit for the role, though.
Huska spent 12 seasons coaching in the WHL, which included winning a championship in 2009. He followed that up by being promoted into the American Hockey League (AHL) for the next four seasons. After which, he joined the Calgary Flames in 2018-19 as an assistant and has been in that role ever since. He’s also helped Team Canada on the international stage.
Experience that certainly aligns with what the Blackhawks should be looking for out of their next bench boss.
The other thing that stands out about Huska is his experience with development. Because he has worked at various levels before the NHL, including the WHL and AHL, and found success, he knows what it takes for players to take the next step in their careers.
Coincidentally, Huska was drafted by the Blackhawks in 1993. He only ever made it into one NHL contest, as his playing days didn’t last quite as long as the coaching career he’s currently stringing together.
Whether or not he extends his tenure in the NHL with the Blackhawks is yet to be seen, but it’s hard to ignore all the reasons why adding Huska into their mix at this point makes perfect sense.
Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.