Chicago Blackhawks mid season Update

This is my issue with the Hawks and has been from camp this year. I agreed with going with the young guys because with the cap and expansion I saw that as the best option for them. So this is a year they are riding on the development of some young players to become the next wave of mid-tier talent to surround the core with. In the cases of Forsling, Schmaltz, Motte, Kempny, not so good. In the cases of Hartman, Hinostroza, and Kero, pretty good progress this year for what they are.

But in the last two losses you can see how a team that lacks so much depth up front is not going to be too hard to push aside when in the playoffs it becomes best on best. Against Tampa last night you had the Kane line and Victor Hedman matched up for the most part, and that left Toews line to do a little damage. But for what is left on lines 3 and 4 is a mish mosh of guys who struggle to play NHL caliber defense (Schmaltz) or are of such limited offensive skill sets that you really can’t count on them for much, Kero’s nice give and go with Kane being the exception. And by the way, where has Artemi Panarin gone? He has been MIA lately and not looked too dangerous during these games.

In reality I don’t see a lot of difference between teams up and coming in the West, like Winnipeg, and the Hawks talent wise. If not for the exceptional goaltending the Hawks have had in parts of this year they could easily be struggling to stay or get into the playoff picture at this point. And things are so tight, it only would take a few weeks without a key guy like Keith or Kane for the Hawks to fall pretty far back in the standings. They depend on those guys so much for their scoring output. By next season, if Hossa’s scoring touch regresses in step with his age, they will really struggle unless someone new steps up as a major threat to put the puck in the net. While they are developing nice complimentary players in Hino and Hartman, and support players like Kero, I don’t see anyone capable of filling that kind of role next year. Maybe a tiny chance Hinostroza keeps coming on, as he has a nice skill set, good wheels, but production wise he is a long, long way off from being that consistent right now.

There are just many teams with young dynamic talent that is developing and improving rapidly, whereas the Hawks are aging with several great players that have plateaued, a huge chasm, then some low skill grit and character guys, and young developing guys that don’t produce a lot currently. There are no yuppies on our roster, upper middle class guys that have upward trajectory and could become something big. Winnipeg, Toronto, Philly, Carolina, Edmonton, and Columbus are just some of the teams across the league with some serious up and coming young talent. Of course they have not enjoyed much recent success, either.

But here is the issue: The talent in the league is compressing rapidly, the lower teams swinging upward quickly, while the upper teams age and deteriorate at different rates, see LA, NYR for example. So the coming years will see a death struggle to make the playoffs and fight in the off season for what talent is available. The pressure on trades in that environment is enormous, which is why you seldom see big trades anymore. Marc Bergevin in Montreal must have balls of steel, trading Subban out of Montreal in the off season. They were ready to lynch him and surely would have if that trade went sour.

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