Saturday, June 15, 2024

Three Blackhawks Who Are On Thin Ice This Year


The Blackhawks are a team built for the future, plain and simple. A rebuild that looks terrific, at least for now, was topped off by the addition of phenom Connor Bedard. Chicago may not be seeing a championship this year, but there’s plenty of excitement for years down the road, with plenty of young players that fans hope to see develop into perennial superstars and cornerstones of this team.

However, the Blackhawks are still a team in transition. This roster is far from complete, and there are still many more moves to be made in order to field a group that can fight for Stanley Cups. Therefore, several players currently with the team will find themselves packing their bags as early as next year. Though some departing names next summer seem like foregone conclusions, like Nikita Zaitsev or Tyler Johnson, a handful of others could also find themselves on thin ice this year, having to prove they belong on an ever-changing unit.

MacKenzie Entwistle

Once a highly-touted third-round pick of the Coyotes in 2017, Entwistle hasn’t really had the chance to blossom in just over two seasons with the Blackhawks. The 24-year-old has 24 career points with the Blackhawks over 126 games and found himself on the third or fourth line for much of this past spring. His stability on the bottom lines made him a solid value while being on his entry-level contract.

However, completely revamped forward lines mean Entwistle may find himself the odd man out throughout this year. With players like Taylor Hall, Ryan Donato, Nick Foligno, and Corey Perry likely slotting in ahead of him, Entwistle may find himself coming off the bench for much of the season. As a result, he won’t get much of a chance to prove himself on the ice, and as he enters a contract year, might not be given a qualifying offer.

Petr Mrazek

As he enters his second season with the Blackhawks, Mrazek finds himself in a tricky situation. At this point, he seems like more of a placeholder than anything, as Chicago is merely biding its time until star prospect Drew Commesso is experienced enough to make an impact at the NHL level. Mrazek’s play won’t affect his status with the team as much as Commesso’s will, and with his contract expiring after this year, the 31-year-old may be headed for free agency, as the Blackhawks certainly seem to believe they have their goalie room of the future in Commesso and Arvid Soderblom.

Jarred Tinordi

With a weak defensive group that was among the worst in the league last year, Tinordi often found himself clinging to ice time on the third defensive line. This season, he’ll have to fight for the same spot, and shouldn’t have the advantage of lack of surrounding talent. With the arrival of Wyatt Kaiser, Isaak Phillips, and Filip Roos as full-time skaters, the Blackhawks may opt to use the younger players (ages 21, 21, and 24, respectively) in order to get as much experience as possible rather than Tinordi, who will celebrate his 32nd birthday during the season. As a left-shooting defenseman, he doesn’t exactly solve the lack of RHDs for Chicago, either.

Though several veteran Blackhawks have made significant contributions to the team in years past, they’ll each have to make a big impact this year to earn another contract. With the arrival of several youngsters, these older skaters may find themselves hitting free agency when their contracts expire next summer.

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