5 Positives From the Blackhawks’ 2022-23 Season


It’s been a long road for the Chicago Blackhawks, in this first season where they’ve fully committed to a rebuild. General manager Kyle Davidson was very transparent about his plan, but it’s been a very long time since this team has been in rebuild mode. Very few fans remember, or were even around, when the Blackhawks were really bad previously. Back before Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Now things have come full circle. The Blackhawks have said goodbye to these two faces of the franchise, the legends that led them to three Stanley Cup championships. Instead, they’re looking for new faces that can hopefully lead them to the promised land once again. But these things take time, and it has to get ugly before they can build back up again. We’re only at the beginning of this process. It’s easy to lose hope, or to be apathetic.

Related –  Blackhawks’ Top 5 Moments of 2022-23

But if you look back upon this season, there are really a number of positive changes that give us hope for the future. If you can look at the big picture, and have some patience. Ok, a lot of patience. But I get ahead of myself. Here are five positives from the Blackhawk’s 2022-23 season.

Young Player Growth & Development

With the focus not on winning, it takes some of the pressure off. It allows young, inexperienced players to find their stride. They can afford to make mistakes without having to worry they will immediately be scratched. Instead, they’re almost encouraged to experiment, and perhaps even blunder a little bit. Provided they learn and build on their mistakes. After all, you can’t become an experienced player unless you have an opportunity to play. That’s what much of this season was all about for the Blackhawks.  

Six players made their NHL debuts with the team this season. Among them, names such as center Cole Guttman, defenseman Wyatt Kaiser, and goaltender Jaxson Stauber look to be a part of the organization’s future.

Cole Guttman Chicago Blackhawks
Cole Guttman is one of many players that made their NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks this season. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Blackhawks also utilized six players with less than 40 NHL games under their belt; including highly touted prospects Lukas Reichel and Alex Vlasic, along with netminder Arvid Soderblom. All three will likely be with the Blackhawks on the other side of the rebuild. Another group of six young men have less than 100 NHL career games. Finally, there’s MacKenzie Entwistle and Philipp Kurashev. Both have been in the league for only three seasons, with 126 and 191 NHL games to their name. 

That’s a lot of youngsters with a lot of room for growth, and quite the collection of raw talent and potential. Having a chance to play in this “lost” season certainly wasn’t lost on them.

Lukas Reichel Chicago Blackhawks
Lukas Reichel had a chance to establish himself with the Chicago Blackhawks during this year’s campaign. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Not everyone will pan out, or perhaps they will be traded to other teams for more assets. But for others, this season was the first step towards a successful career with the Blackhawks.

A Solid Collection of Picks & Prospects

Speaking of trades, Davidson has been quite busy lately making deals and collecting draft picks and prospects. Sure, you can argue about some of the individual moves. But if you look at the overall picture, the Blackhawks have an impressive stockpile of future assets.

After finishing 30th this season, the organization has an 11.5% chance of receiving the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, which is expected to be wonder-child Connor Bedard. They have 11.5% odds of winning the No. 2 pick, and can only fall as low as the No. 5 overall pick.  

Connor Bedard Regina Pats
Connor Bedard is expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL Draft. (Keith Hershmiller / Regina Pats)

Beyond that, the Blackhawks have 10 more selections in this year’s draft on June 28-29, including one more first round pick, four second round picks and two third round picks. Davidson also did a nice job of spreading out his draft picks; as of right now he’s set to receive four first-rounders, four second-rounders and three third rounders in 2024 and 2025 combined.

Add this to young prospects that are already in the system, such as last year’s first-rounders Kevin Korchinski, Frank Nazar and Sam Rinzel, and the future looks bright for the Blackhawks. It will be exciting to watch the next few years unfold in the way of picks and prospects.

Blackhawks Establishing an Identity

Yes, the Blackhawks weren’t very good this season. Overall, they were quite low on established talent. But they were still surprisingly fun to watch. This is because of their compete level. They knew they were outmatched most nights. But that didn’t deter them from playing hard and giving it all they had.

Chicago Blackhawks Celebrate
This season, the Chicago Blackhawks established themselves as a team that’s hard to play against. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This became their identity this season. The mantra seemed to be, “We might not be as good as you, but we’re gonna make you pay the price to beat us.” The Blackhawks became that team that other squad’s dreaded facing. They were strong on the forecheck and the backcheck, and were just physical and hard to play against. They also never gave up, which led them to win some surprising games, or to end up coming from behind to lose by a just small margin.

This is an excellent mindset and a strong foundation for the team to build around. These new-look Blackhawks caught a lot of teams off guard this season. The idea is to keep this tenacity and never-say-die attitude moving forward, even as they add more skill and talent. Eventually, they can become a very formidable foe. After all, there’s really no shortcuts. You need more than just talent to be a contender. You need to work hard and play hard, and have the right attitude as well.  

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The Blackhawks’ New Core

Gone are Toews and Kane. We all know Kane went to the New York Rangers. Furthermore, on Apr. 13, Davidson announced in a press conference they would not be re-signing for Toews next season. Here was his reasoning:

I don’t know if it’s necessarily putting the past behind us. It’s moreso clearing the deck to some extent to allow the organic growth for young players into leadership roles and offer this new era of Blackhawks players the same opportunity that Toews, Kane, [Duncan] Keith, [Brent] Seabrook were all offered when they came into the league.

When there’s a player like Jonathan or Patrick in your locker room, you defer to them. You just let them handle the leadership and there’s not a lot of development opportunity there. So now we believe that it was something that is beneficial for this next group to allow leaders to emerge… In the locker room, be the voice rather than deferring to someone who’s been here for so long. It gives them an opportunity to step up and be the new leadership group of the franchise.

Now, there are many who think this is just a lot of baloney. That the Blackhawks could have build around Toews and/or Kane with them as the veteran mentors. But there is some sense to Davidson’s rationale. Defenseman Connor Murphy is now the longest tenured player on the team. He’s been with the Blackhawks for six seasons and established himself as a leader in his own right, wearing an alternate captain sweater. But this was his reaction when asked about becoming the next captain of the Blackhawks.

There’s just a respect and deferral when it comes to Toews and Kane. Of which they completely deserve. They are both legends in their own right. Players on the team would look to them instead of making their own decisions. This could hinder their development as leaders themselves. It might not be a popular decision, but it’s the decision that’s been made.

Related – Blackhawks & Jonathan Toews Make Split Amicable

Who will the new core be? Well, it could very easily be whoever is drafted by the Blackhawks in this upcoming draft. It could be one or a few of the top prospects that will soon be joining the team on a permanent basis. In the meantime, veterans such as Murphy, Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson and Jarred Tinordi will lead the way with strong voices, but voices that aren’t exactly as overpowering as Toews and Kane.

Head Coach Luke Richardson

I saved the best for last, because it can’t be stressed enough what this man has already done here in Chicago. He might not have been the coach for the tank. We saw that with the foundation and identity Richardson helped to build, as referenced above.

But there’s little doubt he’s the coach for the rebuild, and quite possibly the coach that can lead this franchise back to contention. Richardson has a commanding aura about him that’s impossible not to respect. He was a player himself, so he has an excellent insight into what the players need. He also came to Chicago with a plethora of previous coaching experience.

Luke Richardson Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach Luke Richardson has done a phenomenal job in his first season behind the bench. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

From what we’ve seen in his first season with the Blackhawks, Richardson coaches from a mindset of positivity and encouragement, not with anger or by instilling fear. He’s kept things simple, implementing a solid structure that’s easy to understand. Every player knew what was expected of them this season, and Richardson appeared to treat everyone fairly and consistently. He didn’t diminish anyone’s role. As a matter of fact, he stressed the value of every player, and the importance of playing as a team. He really did seem to get the best out of everyone.

I believe Richardson has all the right tools to lead this team through the rebuild and back to contention. I was extremely impressed with his first season behind the bench, and can’t wait to see what he does with next year’s squad.

Related – 4 Takeaways From the Blackhawks’ Last Road Trip of 2022-23

This Blackhawks’ season was a tough one. But it was also fun and inspiring in many ways. Year one of the commitment to the rebuild is over. The tear down is complete, and now the pieces of building back up are in process. It might not be as fun as winning championships, but the progress and development is there. That’s all we can ask for.  

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