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Early projection Blackhawks' 2024-25 Opening Night lineup after busy Day 1 of NHL free agency

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Blackhawks are ready to take the next step in the rebuild, and Monday's moves on Day 1 of NHL free agency backed up just how serious GM Kyle Davidson was about surrounding his younger players with more talent to help accomplish that.

The Blackhawks signed a pair of top-six forwards in Tyler Bertuzzi and Teuvo Teravainen, a couple of depth forwards in three-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon and winger Craig Smith, a three-time Stanley Cup champion defenseman who can still log top-four minutes in Alec Martinez, a top-four shutdown defenseman in T.J. Brodie, and a reliable backup goaltender in Laurent Brossoit. They also acquired middle-six winger Ilya Mikheyev a few days prior in a trade with Vancouver.

Chicago's roster on paper has significantly improved, and it's going to make for a competitive training camp. So let's get right to it.

Here's an early Opening Night roster projection for the Blackhawks in 2024-25:


Tyler Bertuzzi — Connor Bedard — Philipp Kurashev

Taylor Hall — Andreas Athanasiou — Teuvo Teravainen

Lukas Reichel — Jason Dickinson — Ilya Mikheyev

Nick Foligno — Ryan Donato — Pat Maroon

Extras: Joey Anderson, Craig Smith


Alex Vlasic — Seth Jones

Alec Martinez — T.J. Brodie

Kevin Korchinski — Connor Murphy

Extra: Wyatt Kaiser


Petr Mrazek

Laurent Brossoit


  • Bertuzzi will almost certainly start the season on Bedard's line. He's the exact kind of player you want your young franchise cornerstone to play with. Someone who's an agitator, goes to the dirty areas, can finish around the net, and has the offensive skillset and potential to score 30 goals and 60 points.
  • Teravainen will probably find his way on Bedard's line at some point — perhaps even on the power play — but no reason to separate Bedard and Kurashev after they developed strong chemistry together. Makes more sense to slot Teravainen into the second line and help Hall find his form again after he missed almost all of last season with an ACL injury.
  • I wouldn't be surprised if Dickinson starts on the second line, but he's better suited on the third, where he can be in more of a checking role. I put Athanasiou at center on the second because it seems like Hall and Teravainen would benefit from playing with a speed-type player up the middle.
  • Reichel is going to have his work cut out for him. Hard to imagine him starting inside the top-six with all the additions. It's more likely he'll be in a bottom-six role and be forced to earn his way up the lineup, assuming he doesn't start in Rockford. The fourth line doesn't seem like it would be putting him in the best position to succeed, so the third line is a fair compromise where he can play with Dickinson and newcomer Mikheyev and prove himself.
  • Not a lot of footspeed on the fourth line with Donato, Foligno and Maroon but it's a much better and more experienced fourth line than last season. Smith is the ideal candidate to be the 13th forward along with Anderson, who could start the season in Rockford if there isn't room for him on the NHL roster and be one of the first forward call-ups if/when there's a spot that opens due to injury.
  • I expect Frank Nazar and Landon Slaggert to start the season in Rockford, given how crowded the roster looks at this point. Also, they could use a little bit of grooming as they get acclimated to the grind of an 82-game season, both physically and mentally. The NHL taste they got last season gives them something to work on specifically.
  • On defense, Vlasic and Jones work best when they're together. I wouldn't touch that pairing.
  • The Blackhawks added Martinez and Brodie, both of whom can still log respectable minutes. Martinez averaged 19:02 of ice time last season when healthy and Brodie has averaged more than 21 minutes per game for four consecutive seasons. One or both of them will probably end up playing with a younger defenseman at some point, but right now, I like the look of them together. Brodie mostly played on the right side in Toronto, but Martinez can play there too.
  • The addition of Brodie and Martinez indicates there's only one spot left for Korchinski or Kaiser. I doubt the Blackhawks would want the odd-man out serving as the seventh defenseman, which could make for an interesting camp.
  • Korchinski, at times, looked like he could have used some AHL time last season but obviously he wasn't eligible to play there. Next season, he will be allowed to. I wouldn't be surprised if the Blackhawks utilized that option if he gets off to a tough start and it's beneficial for him to hone his game in Rockford. Could the Blackhawks look to start him there right away? Not out of the question. He's still super young and there's a lot of room for growth. Play the long game.
  • Kaiser has taken impressive strides and feels ready to be a full-time NHL player. He looked like a different player in his NHL stint towards the end of the season. Matching him with the right-handed shot Murphy isn't a bad third pairing.
  • At the goaltending position, Mrazek is the sure-fire No. 1. He kept the Blackhawks in it every night last season. Securing a reliable backup in Brossoit for the next two years was an important move to help mask the mistakes from some of their younger players as they figure out the NHL and the Blackhawks look to take the next step in their rebuild.
  • That brings us to Söderblom. The Blackhawks like his upside, but they had no choice but to seek an upgrade at the position. They just couldn't roll it back with the same tandem. Söderblom will have to re-prove himself and try to recapture the form he had in Rockford.

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