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Tonight is the night. Santa Claus will make his yearly journey across the globe and leave presents for good hockey fans at every stop. Chicago Blackhawks fans have been getting a lot of coal in their stockings this season. While we know the pain will have a payoff down the road, it’s still difficult to watch the losses pile up. With that in mind, here are three things Chicago hockey fans likely put on their wish lists before they sent them to the North Pole.
A Lukas Reichel Recall
Everybody loves to see a shiny new toy under the tree on Christmas morning. Lukas Reichel represents this for Blackhawks fans, who are dying to have something to give them hope during a dismal season. Getting him up permanently will give us all something to watch. You can count on one hand the number of players on this current roster who will still be here when the Blackhawks are a playoff team again. Reichel is penciled in to be one of those, but we haven’t seen enough of him at the NHL level to change that to ink.
Taken 17th overall at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Reichel has done very well in the American Hockey League (AHL). In his rookie season, he had 21 goals and 57 points in 56 games for the Rockford IceHogs. This season, he has 12 goals and 31 points in 29 games. To average over a point per game in the AHL for a season and a half before turning 21 is quite an impressive accomplishment.
Some fans have lowered their expectations for Reichel because he does not have an NHL point in 12 games with the Blackhawks. While being as patient as possible with your top offensive prospect is the correct way to go, at some point, you have to give Reichel his shot at playing in the top six for good.
Closure for Patrick Kane & Jonathan Toews
The biggest story off the ice all season long has been the futures of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. In a perfect world, general manager Kyle Davidson trades this legendary duo for a sleigh full of assets that helps accelerate the rebuild. In the real world, Kane and Toews have full no-movement clauses, so it is ultimately up to them if they get traded and to where.
I feel confident that most Blackhawks fans want a decision one way or another. There have been reports, including from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, that Davidson will discuss the future with Kane and Toews after the new year. This will be a huge story until it entirely unfolds, so hopefully, we will get some closure soon.
Drafting Connor Bedard
Speaking of shiny new toys, none are shinier than teenage phenom Connor Bedard. We are in the midst of one of the worst Blackhawks seasons in reason memory. All the losses and porous hockey will be well worth it if the Bedard calls Chicago home starting in July.
Bedard has been lighting the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the past three seasons. The captain of the Regina Pats has 27 goals and 64 points in 28 games and leads the WHL in nearly all offensive categories. Elite Prospects’ Cam Robinson recently told us that Bedard has the playmaking ability of Kane and the shot of Auston Matthews. Yes, please!
Finishing with the worst record does not guarantee the number one overall pick, but it gives you the best odds and puts you no lower than third. Bedard is the ultimate prize, and if Santa can put him under the tree at the United Center, Blackhawks fans will rejoice.
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