There were high hopes for the Blackhawks to start this season after a summer that saw them add a new top defender in Seth Jones, a new starting goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury, as well as some extra depth up front. The hope was that these improvements would help get them back into the playoff picture after missing the postseason the year before. It didn’t happen. Instead, mired with off-ice controversy and on-ice struggles, things snowballed in the opposite direction and instead of building for the playoffs, GM Kyle Davidson has committed to going for a rebuild instead. As a result, he has a busy summer ahead of him.
After Jeremy Colliton was let go after just a dozen games, Derek King was elevated from coaching with AHL Rockford to fill in on an interim basis for the rest of the season. His record wasn’t stellar by any stretch (27-33-10) but the team was much more competitive under King despite having nothing to play for but pride for most of the season.
Davidson decided that he wants to undergo a full coaching search and one of the questions he’ll have to answer is the type of coach he’s looking for. Is he looking for a long-term fixture to grow with the team or is it someone to take them through this transitional period? If it’s the latter, someone like King – who will interview for the full-time job – becomes a legitimate candidate with how Chicago performed down the stretch. A veteran coach doesn’t seem like a good fit for a rebuilding squad but Davidson has committed to a thorough search so there will undoubtedly be some veteran coaches considered over the coming weeks on top of some first-time options.
On top of hiring a head coach, Davidson and whoever he picks as his bench boss will need to fill a couple of vacancies on the bench after the team dismissed associate coach Marc Crawford and assistant coach Rob Cookson this summer.
Build A Goalie Tandem
In terms of Chicago’s on-ice personnel, there is a lot of work to be done this summer between the pipes. Fleury was moved to Minnesota at the trade deadline while holdovers Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia are both pending unrestricted free agents. As it stands, the only goalie with professional experience that’s signed for next season is Arvid Soderblom. Suffice it to say, they have some work to do.
After an impressive first NHL season, Lankinen struggled considerably this year with a save percentage of just .891. A year ago, it looked like he could be a sought-after netminder in free agency but now, his market will have cooled considerably. Still, a return to Chicago could be an option in a backup role. Delia is someone that has been around the organization for a while (five years) but never has really emerged beyond being a good AHL netminder that can play a handful of NHL contests when needed. With the Blackhawks wanting to give Soderblom and Jaxson Stauber lots of action with AHL Rockford, Delia seems likely to move on.