Blackhawks season preview: Toews, Kane must buy for rebuild

The 2022-23 NHL season begins on October 7. With training camps opening soon, NHL.com takes a look at the three keys, inside roster questions and the expected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today Chicago Blackhawks.

Coach: Luke Richardson (first season)

Last season: 28-42-12, seventh in Central Division; did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs

3 KEYS

1. Toews, Kane leadership needed more than ever

Center Jonathan Toews and forward Patrick Kane remain the lone Blackhawks from the teams that won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015, and the Blackhawks will need them to help a young group find its footing. How Toews and Kane approach the rebuild as it continues this season will be critical; each is in the final season of an eight-year contract signed on July 9, 2014.

2. Richardson’s impact

Richardson has been working to rebuild Chicago as he takes on his first NHL coaching job. But Richardson, an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens for the past four seasons, has earned the respect of those who have played for him. That includes going forward Max Domiwho said he was determined to sign with the Blackhawks as soon as he knew Richardson would become coach.

3. Mrazek’s health

Goalkeeper Petr Mrazek is coming off his toughest season, when a groin injury cost him all but 20 games (12-6-0, 3.34 goals-against average, .888 save percentage) for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is determined to have a full, healthy season and shoulder the bulk of the workload. With backup Alex Stalock playing one game in the NHL last season (with the San Jose Sharks), the Blackhawks will need Mrazek at his best.

ROSTER RUNDOWN

Make the cut

There are openings on all four front lines after Alex DeBrincat (Ottawa Senators) and Kirby Roof (Canadiens) were traded and free agents Dylan Strome (Washington Capitals) and Dominik Kubalik (Detroit Red Wings) left. This could be an opportunity for forwards such as Philip Kurashev, MacKenzie Entwistle and Sam Lafferty to fill full-time spots in the lineup. Domi (one year), Andreas Athanasiou (one year) and Colin Blackwell (two years) each signed on July 13 and will likely be part of the top nine. Defender Jack Johnsonwho won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche before agreeing to a one-year contract with the Blackhawks on Aug. 17, could end up in the top four.

Most exciting addition

Although he signed a one-year contract, Domi said on July 28 that he would like to be in Chicago “for a long, long time.” It’s understandable, given that the 27-year-old has played for four teams in seven NHL seasons. He played the last two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets before being acquired by the Carolina Hurricanes in a three-team trade involving the Florida Panthers on March 21. Domi will look to increase his production after finishing with 39 points (11 goals, 28 assists) ) in 72 games with Columbus and Carolina last season.

Biggest potential surprise

General manager Kyle Davidson pegged Mrazek and Stalock as the No. 1 and No. 2 goaltenders, but isn’t ruling it out Arvid Söderblom get some playing time. The 23-year-old was 21-15-2 with a 2.76 GAA, .919 save percentage and two shutouts in 38 regular-season games for Rockford of the American Hockey League, and 2-3-0 with a 2.99 GAA, . 925 save percentage and one shutout during the Calder Cup playoffs. He played in three games (two starts) for the Blackhawks last season, going 0-2-0 with a 5.01 GAA and .863 save percentage.

Ready to break through

Is it time for Lukas Reichel to get his big chance with the Blackhawks? The 20-year-old forward led Rockford with 57 points (21 goals, 36 assists) in 56 games and had one assist in 11 games with the Blackhawks last season. Sure, it would be tough to throw him onto a rebuilding team, but this will be Chicago’s situation for a few seasons. He should have confidence from his production in the AHL and could get a bigger opportunity with a strong showing in training camp.

Fantasy sleeping

Taylor RaddyshLW/RW (undrafted average in fantasy) — He had 10 points (six goals, four assists), including three power-play goals, in 21 games with the Blackhawks last season after the rookie was acquired in a March 18 trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is under-the-art. -radar player who should have a top-six role under Richardson after the DeBrincat and Dach trades. — Pete Jensen

PROPOSED SETUP

Lukas Reichel – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane

Andreas Athanasiou — Max Domi — Tyler Johnson

Philipp Kurashev – Mackenzie Entwistle – Colin Blackwell

Sam Lafferty — Jujhar Khaira — Taylor Raddysh

Jack Johnson — Seth Jones

Riley StillmanConnor Murphy

Alex VlasicCaleb Jones

Petr Mrazek

Alex Stalock

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