After the NHL’s trade deadline came and went, the Chicago Blackhawks still have 19 games left in the regular season, and there are plenty of reasons for fans to watch those contests in the final weeks of the campaign.
The Blackhawks currently have a record of 22-32-9, and although their playoff hopes are virtually dead, we have five reasons why you should continue to watch the team play their final quarter of the season.
Points Still Important Even as Playoff Hopes Prove Evasive
Points in the standings may not matter much for the Blackhawks from a playoff perspective, but they do from a draft pick perspective. Currently, the 63 points the Blackhawks have place them as the eighth-worst team in the NHL, but things are getting really tight in that category.
By virtue of the Seth Jones trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks’ first round pick will head to Ohio’s capital this season unless they get the first or second selection in the draft.
While that would pay dividends for them this season, it would mean that their 2023 pick will automatically go to Columbus, costing them a shot at a group of incredible prospects that includes highly-touted center Connor Bedard.
As things stand now, the Blackhawks are one point ahead of Buffalo and only two points ahead of Philadelphia and New Jersey. All of them have played 63 games.
They are four points ahead of Ottawa, who is currently in fourth.
Finally, they are nine points clear of Montreal, Seattle and Arizona, all of whom are tied with 44 points for the worst record in the NHL.
In eighth place, the Blackhawks have a 12% chance of getting the first or second pick in the NHL Draft. In ninth, that would drop to 11.2%.
If they somehow end up in the fourth spot, they would have a 19.6% chance of picking in the top two. That chance drops to 17.3% in the fifth spot, 15.5% in the sixth spot, and 13.7% in the seventh spot.
Jonathan Toews Set to Join Elite Club
While it hasn’t been the most memorable season of Jonathan Toews’ career, he is close to achieving a feat that only seven other NHL players have accomplished.
Toews currently sits at 995 career games played, and if he can reach the 1,000 games plateau, he would become just the eighth player to appear in 1,000 or more games in a Blackhawks sweater.
As things stand now, Toews would hit 1,000 games on March 31 against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.
A New Career High for The Cat?
As things stand now, Alex DeBrincat has scored 34 goals so far this season for the Blackhawks, a rare offensive bright spot in a season that has largely been devoid of them.
If he can score eight goals in the team’s final 19 games, he will set a new career high in goals, besting the 41 he scored during the 2018-19 season.
Will New Faces Contribute?
The Blackhawks will undoubtedly use the closing weeks of the season to get a look at some new faces, and that group will include newly-signed defenseman Alex Vlasic and newly-acquired forwards Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh.
Raddysh, acquired from the Blackhawks in the Brandon Hagel trade, has already seen power play time and has scored a goal for the Blackhawks, and could be auditioning for a top-six role with the team next season.
Katchouk is more likely to be a bottom-six player with some penalty killing upside, and Vlasic could use his physicality to cement a place on the team’s blue line for next season.
Kevin Lankinen’s Time to Shine
Last season, it appeared that Kevin Lankinen had done enough to earn himself a shot at the starting job this season, but Stan Bowman had other ideas, trading for Marc-Andre Fleury and relegating Lankinen to back-up duty.
Now, with just 17 games under his belt and a 3.51 goals against average, Lankinen will aim to show that his strong performances of a year ago were not a fluke, and he will aim to try to earn himself some money in free agency.