Could the Chicago Blackhawks be heading in the wrong direction? That’s what Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Potash suggests as he analyzes the failures of a quick playoff exit to the Nashville Predators this season. The writer speculates that general manager Stan Bowman has his work cut out for him. The team is loaded with No Movement Clauses and veterans wherever you look and the GM must look at his aging defense.
Brent Seabrook’s decline this year was noticeable. Potash claims the 32-year-old defender has lost a step on defense and his offense has declined as well. After a season in which he 14 goals in 2015-16, that number dropped to three goals this past year. Add to the fact that Seabrook only signed his 8-year, $55MM contract a year ago, the Blackhawks have to hope the blueliner can bounce back with a strong season next year. “I’ve got to be better. But I feel like I’ve got a lot of hockey left in me and a lot of good years ahead of me,” Seabrook said. “This summer’s going to be a tough summer. It’s going to be a battle to get ready to go and try and have a better year next year.”
Duncan Keith is another defender who struggled to stop the speed of the Predators in the playoffs. The 33-year-old still had a good year after scoring six goals and 45 assists, but he’s locked in until the 2022-23 season. “I want to have a good summer of training,” Keith said, “and doing my best to get to a point where I feel like when you train hard, you get confidence from that too your body feels good and you feel strong. That’s going to be my focus. I know I could have played better. I’m obviously a big part of this team, so when I don’t play my best, it’s going to affect my team. I know I need a good summer of training and I’ll be ready to do.”
If neither blueliner can bounce back, the Blackhawks will be weighed down by two large contracts for the very far future.
Potash also writes that Bowman must get center Jonathan Toews a proper power forward to work with. Toews in the three years previous teamed up with Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell or Marian Hossa, who aided his success on the ice. With Saad and Bickell gone and Hossa’s demotion to the third line, Toews is struggling to score goals again, as he hasn’t scored one 5-on-5 goal in his last 11 playoff games.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed their 2016 second-round pick Boris Katchouk to a three-year entry level contract today. The 6-foot-1 forward has played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League for the past three years, finishing a strong 2016-17 season in which he tallied 35 goals, 64 points and 48 penalty minutes. The 44th overall pick in the last draft finished second on his team in goals, and third in points. Katchouk has appeared in 141 OHL games.