It would appear as though trading good players and picks for Cups may have finally caught up to Chicago. The Blackhawks have been on a steady decline since they last hosted Lord Stanley in 2015. Besides the Penguins, they were the most recent NHL Dynasty, in a league where that is going to be hard with every passing year.
The Blackhawks released Corey Crawford, stating that he would not be resigned to a contract, allowing him to enter free agency. He promptly signed with the hopefully rising Devils. This ended his 17-year tenure with the Blackhawks.
They also traded Brandon Saad to Colorado in exchange for defensive risk Nikita Zadorov and depth defensemen Anton Lindholm. The kicker is they also retained $1 million in Saad’s salary. This is the second time they traded him away and this time it was to a division rival. This move to me was the signal of a rebuild in Chicago and hear it is the official word:
The Blackhawks still have really good players on the team, do not get me wrong. They stole Alex DeBrincat in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft, he is going to be elite in the league. Dylan Strome and Alexander Nylander also have tremendous upside, and could easily become Top 6 players. Dominik Kubalik also looks like a solid snag out of National League.
I would not be surprised if in a few years Toews and Kane move on from the Blackhawks, but those two will have statues in front of the United Center. Those guys may not want to stick around for the rebuild.
It always stinks when you start to watch a team decline, like when Detroit missed the playoffs for the first time in almost 3 decades and Lidstrom retiring. I would not be surprised to watch them start stacking up draft picks, but who knows how well scouted the 2021 draft will be with leagues in North America not starting till December/ January.