It seems early to talk about the Chicago Blackhawks offseason moved and potential picks in the upcoming draft, but the reality is that the Hawks have already been eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in nine years. They currently sit in 25th place in the league's standings with 72 points, and they only have the next season to look forward to...
An injury to star goalie Corey Crawford has mostly contributed to Chicago's rapid decline. The 33-year-old Crawford hasn't played since Dec. 23 due to an upper-body injury, and it has been a steep drop-off to backups Anton Forsberg, Jean-Francois Berube and Jeff Glass. The focus in the offseason could be to land another netminder, one who could take the reigns when or if Crawford does not return to full form, or he is sidelined again next season.
However, the Hawks might have to solve a more pressing issue first. The NHL Entry draft is fast approaching, and the lottery is exactly a month away. NHL insider Elliotte Friedman has revealed in his lastest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet that Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is feeling pressured to trade away his upcoming lottery pick for immediate help. Here is Friedman's take:
"One of the rumblings I’d heard was the Blackhawks considering trading their upcoming lottery pick for someone who could make an immediate difference. Bowman didn’t seem so keen on the idea.
“I would be surprised if we traded it. Maybe if it was for a 22- or 23-year-old, who would be a couple of years ahead of draft age. But not for a 25- or 26-year-old. We think fans will like (newly signed) Dylan Sikura…. Add him to Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz. We want to add to that group…. Like I said, maybe for someone who is a couple years ahead but has a ton of hockey left.”"
Sikura will get a chance to show what they’ve got as Blackhawks prospect with the five games remaining on the regular calendar. If he shines along other promising prospects, it would brighten the end of a season.
Bowman could have make more rational choices on what is next for his franchise as rumors circulated of head coach Joel Quenneville possibly getting the boot at the end of the season. However, the Hawks could find a diamond in the ruff at the draft and could build a strong team around players he already has in the fold.
As for the goaltending issues, the games left to play could be a great opportunity for prospect Collin Delia, who was recalled from Rockford today, to offer Bowman's a great option in between the pipes as he ponders other moves this offseason.