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Chicago Blackhawks 2023-24 season preview

Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

After a 2022-23 season full of mind-numbing, deflating and sometimes downright boring defeats, the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2023-24 season will probably be full of more defeats — but they should be a lot more entertaining! With Connor Bedard’s name on the marquee and several other youngsters as supporting acts for the first leg of the Bedard tour through the NHL, the Blackhawks should, at least, be a more interesting watch than they were at any other point last season.

Key Additions/Subtractions:

Take a guess.

Bedard’s arrival has put Chicago back on the hockey map and how quickly he establishes chemistry with offseason acquisition Taylor Hall on Chicago’s top line will be one of the more fascinating storylines through the first few months of the season. Veteran forwards Nick Foligno and Corey Perry provide experience to a team without a ton of it, while the blue line is combination of longer tenured veterans and a few blossoming prospects sprinkled in.

It should be noted here that there are two players missing from last season’s roster who carry rather sizeable plays in Blackhawks history: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Their departures seemed by the end of the ’22-23 season felt inevitable, and the addition of Bedard in the offseason made for a pretty easy demarcation line between the Toews/Kane era and whatever lies ahead for the Bedard era. But those are probably the only two “key” subtractions from last season’s roster, as any other lineup differences were players moved by the trade deadline (Jake McCabe, Max Domi) or bottom-of-the-roster players who didn’t seem to have long-term futures in Chicago anyway.


The Blackhawks are going to be a young team and it seems like every one of those young players can fly. Bedard’s skating is impeccable. Lukas Reichel, who appears to be starting the season at second-line center, is another speedster and he’ll have a pair of flyers on his wings in Andreas Athanasiou and Philipp Kurashev. Kevin Korchinski and Wyatt Kaiser will bring some smooth skating to the blue line as well. Chicago’s speed should be noticeably improved this winter but whether or not that speed leads to more chances and goals is one of the lingering mysteries to be explored as the season unfolds.

The reliance on youth means that one of Chicago’s biggest weaknesses will be its relative inexperience at the NHL level and the pitfalls which will come from that. There will almost certainly be moments where that youth is exposed, with one of the biggest concerns coming whenever Korchinski spends lengthier amounts of time in the defensive zone. While the 2022 No. 7 pick should shine on offense, legitimate questions remain on how well he can help keep the puck out of his own net. And speaking of keeping pucks out of the Chicago net, Petr Mrazek will start the season as the No. 1 goaltender after posting subpar numbers (.894 save percentage, 3.66 goals-against average) last season — although he certainly didn’t get much help from the players in front of him. The backup to him is the exciting but unproven prospect Arvid Soderblom, who could challenge for that starting role if Mrazek falters. But just about everything from a defensive perspective seems to be the most glaring on-paper weakness for this Blackhawks team.

Biggest Questions:

The first question is the most obvious: how much will Bedard produce in his rookie season? A point-per-game pace feels like a decent starting point for discussion. The majority of other big questions surrounding this team involve the younger players. How will Reichel fare in his first full NHL season? Will Korchinski spend this season in the NHL or end up back in juniors? Is the budding preseason hype around Wyatt Kaiser going to be confirmed in the regular season? Will Alex Vlasic and/or Isaak Phillips find ice time in Chicago?

Star Players:

So, hear me out: Connor Bedard.

Outside of him, though, the Hall acquisition in the offseason gives Bedard a teammate who may be able to match Bedard’s hockey IQ and creativity. Hall’s ice time has steadily trended downward for the last few seasons but, given the lack of forward depth at the top of Chicago’s roster as compared to Hall’s prior stop in Boston, he figures to skate much more than the 15:56 of average ice time he had with the Bruins last season. Because of that, Hall may also be due for a production increase after scoring just 36 points in 61 games last season.

Under-the-Radar Player Who Could Have an Impact:

Wyatt Kaiser’s name was mentioned earlier in this preview but it’s worth mentioning again because there’s been a decent amount of buzz around the 2020 third-round pick (81st overall). Coach Luke Richardson has raved about Kaiser’s skating from early in camp:

Kaiser spent much of the preseason skating on Chicago’s de facto top D pairing alongside Seth Jones and he average just under 20 minutes per game in five preseason appearances. So much attention in Chicago has been on Bedard — and rightfully so — but Chicago needs to develop blue-line talent as well and Kaiser may be one of the first D pieces fitting into place.

Key Rookie/Young Player:

So, hear me out: Connor Bedard.

Nah, that’s too easy. Let’s focus in on Lukas Reichel instead, the aforementioned youngster who’s going to start this season on the second line and apparently at center. Reichel’s been bounced between wing and center since he arrived in North America and where his hockey future ultimately lies is up for debate. Answers to some of those questions should begin to emerge throughout this season.

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