It’s no secret heading into the All-Star break that the Blackhawks are having trouble getting on the board. A struggle could be expected with the amount of injuries the team has suffered (including Connor Bedard), but we didn’t know it would get this bad. The team, which has been shut out in three of its last four games, sits at the bottom of the NHL standings, so it’s about time for a change in the offensive unit.
It seems reinforcements are finally on their way.
Last week, top prospect Landon Slaggert answered one of the biggest questions of the upcoming offseason when he reassured the Blackhawks that he still plans to sign with the team at the end of his collegiate season. After three years at the University of Notre Dame, Slaggert declined a professional contract offer, returning to play alongside his younger brother and hone his skills. The decision didn’t take any stress off the shoulders of GM Kyle Davidson and his staff, as it opened up the possibility that Slaggert could test the waters of free agency as a 2020 draftee.
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Slaggert recently put that possibility to rest when he told the Chicago Sun Times’ Ben Pope that he’s still “definitely hoping to sign with the Hawks.” While his mind is on the last few games of his collegiate career, there’s no question he’s fully committed and excited to bring his talents to the team as early as a few months from now.
While Slaggert would have been a valuable offensive talent this season, the 21-year-old feels he’s giving the organization a better product by coming out a year later. He notched just 13 points last season and was disappointed in the result – but came back this year as his team’s captain, tallying 16 goals and 25 points in 26 games. That includes a recent heater that has seen him score eight points in his last five games.
Blackhawks assistant GM Mark Eaton called Slaggert “the most NHL-ready out of all of [the team’s forward prospects]. He pointed out that it’s certainly a position of need for the franchise. Though much of the team’s lack of success offensively can be attributed to the injured list that at times has seemed a mile long, Chicago still has a rebuilding team and isn’t exactly a scoring powerhouse. Those days are still to come, with players like Frank Nazar III and Oliver Moore waiting in the wings for their chance to make an impact.
As the new era in Chicago gets ushered in, Slaggert is a great candidate to lead the charge. A hard worker and mature skater, he’s turned into an impressive scorer and leader as the captain of one of the nation’s most prestigious programs. As an experienced, talented prospect, it appears he’ll get the first shot at the NHL level of his peers. The Blackhawks’ needs offensively are a perfect opportunity for Slaggert to get in the door, helping his team close out the year while gaining valuable big-league experience.