Looking Ahead: What Do The 2019-20 Blackhawks Forwards Look Like?

With recent news that the Blackhawks have added a couple new forwards from Europe and with the 2019 NHL Draft combine coming up soon, it’s worth taking a moment to examine the current players signed by Chicago for the 2019-20 season.

Let’s begin by discussing the forwards who are signed and which outstanding free agents could impact the 2019-20 roster.


Jonathan Toews – age: 31 – Cap hit: $10.5M
Patrick Kane – 30 – $10.5M
Alex DeBrincat – 21 – $778,333
Dylan Strome – 22 – $863,333
Brandon Saad – 26 – $6.0M
Artem Anisimov – 31 – $4.55M
Drake Cagguila – 24 – $1.5M
Dominik Kahun – 23 – $925k
Dominik Kubalik – 23 – $925k
Anton Wedin – 26 – $925k
John Hayden – 24 – $750k

Brendan Perlini – 24
David Kampf – 23
Dylan Sikura – 23
Luke Johnson – 24

Chris Kunitz – 39
Marcus Kruger – 29
Andreas Martinsen – 28

Prospects Signed
Matthew Highmore – 23 – Signed thru: 2020
Nathan Noel – 21 – 2020
Graham Knott – 22 – 2020
Alexandre Fortin – 22 – 2020
Jacob Nilsson – 24 – 2020
Brandon Hagel – 20 – 2021
Reese Johnson – 20 – 2022
Philip Kurashev – 19 – 2022
Tim Soderlund – 21 – 2022
Mikael Hakkarainen – 21 – 2022
Mackenzie Entwistle – 19 – 2022

Internal Free agents

First, Kunitz is gone. Retirement might be his best/only option.

Kruger is an intriguing name because of his defensive play but, at 29, he’s older and didn’t bring any offense to the table last year (12 points in 74 games). With new additions and the ability to consider other as the fourth line center, his days in Chicago might be over (again).

Potential Roster

If we assume all unrestricted and restricted free agents depart, what would a lineup look like based on players currently signed?

Drake Cagguila – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane

Brandon Saad – Dylan Strome – Alex DeBrincat

Dominik Kubalik – Artem Anisimov – Dominik Kahun

Anton Wedin – ______ – John Hayden

Those four lines assume a number of variables, and does not include a possible forward being selected third overall. You do not see any prospects listed, and Dylan Sikura (RFA) is not named either.

Obviously we haven’t sen Kubalik or Wedin play against NHL players outside of international tournaments. One/both of them could emerge as a top-six level player, which could impact where the coaching staff skates Cagguila, Saad and Kahun. For the purposes of this exercise we listed both as bottom-six players.

Kampf and Johnson – both RFAs – could return on cheap deals. Kampf had 19 points and won 45.3 percent of his faceoffs in 63 games last year but ranked third on the Hawks in short-handed faceoffs taken behind Toews and Kruger. Johnson played well in Rockford and could be a consideration as well. Highmore, who appeared in 13 NHL games during the 2017-18 season, has one year remaining on his contract and could be in the mix for the fourth center spot if no help is brought in via free agency, the draft or trade.

As we discussed in our 2019 NHL Draft profiles, there are a number of interesting options at center who should be available. Alex Turcotte, Kirby Dach and Dylan Cozens are all names identified as possibilities for the Blackhawks at three. And, if selected, one would have to believe they would get a long look during training camp.

The wild card in this mix is Anisimov. According to CapFriendly his modified NTC has expired, which means he could be a name in play as trades begin to happen after the Stanley Cup Final.

43 thoughts on “Looking Ahead: What Do The 2019-20 Blackhawks Forwards Look Like?

  1. Like Saad with Debrincat and Strome to see if they work well together, seems like a goid fit. Cagguila with Toews and Kane until somebody steps up works, wouldn’t be surprised to see Kubalik start there either, similar to how Kahun was given top 6 opportinities out the gate last season.
    Bottom 6 is going to be a work in progress and interesting to see who is still around and what new faces may be there.
    A question i wonder us who his best trade chips are among fwds and dmen if Bowman intends on moving some bodies in and out that way. I mean who brings best return, for roster neeeds that he would consider moving.

  2. Its funny I was doing a similar thing yesterday as well. I did put Kampf in there tho but not Wedin.

    I was doing the Icehogs too

    Fortin-Soderlund-R Johnson
    Wedin-Coughlin-L Johnson


  3. I know Perlini and Kampf are RFA but I think he’d all be shocked if they don’t sign both

    I count them on the roster when I’m thinking of how the forwards slot

    I’d like to upgrade from AA at 3C but could live with him there as long as there is at least one decent upgrade to the FWs – a player like Kapenen or Jonson for example

  4. Yea forgot what you were saying/doing it. Just saying hes the one of the ones we ve had/have.

  5. Zaitsev asking for a trade and Leafs need cap space. At 5 years 4.5m left be a tough sell, be nice to be able to work a deal for a young rfa as a sweetener without giving up alot. Zaitsev be attractive to a cash cap strapped team if Blackhawks retained some of his salary and get a good return back for him too.

  6. Saw the Zaitsev thing too Ian and thought he could be someone that would fit on the Hawks – he and Muzzin played very well as a shut down pair vs the Bruins

  7. For some reason Zaitsev’s game has regressed. Just a few years ago, The Leafs thought they had a really good top-4 defenseman for a long time. But he’s not physical, does not compete hard in the corners, is not that quick either.
    He seems to have lost his confidence. I would stay away.
    I wonder if Lou Lamoriello will bring him to the Island since he liked him in Toronto,

  8. Zaitsev ($4.5M), Kapanen ($5M?) and Horton’s 1-year LTIR contract ($5.3M) for Seabrook ($6.8M) and Gustafsson ($1.2M).

    Toronto saves around $6.8M off their 2019/20 cap and gets a bottom pairing RD (Seabrook) and a replacement for Gardiner (Gustafsson).

    The Hawks pay $2.3M less for their bottom pairing RD and get Kapanen.

  9. Craig what i read been a number of inquiries already for him, still has lots of hockey left. Toronto’s inabilty to eat some salary limits their options. Would have to have someone who wanted to advantage of Blackhawks being able to do that, where Leafs can’t, before the first deal is done. I think if you good get a return for him thats the better option with where this team is right now.

  10. First two forward lines look solid.
    Third line could improve with Panarin replacing Anisimov.
    Good foundation for the forth line.
    Let’s figure in a draft pick.

  11. Ian, Zaitsev’s contract is also for 5 years. Both are bad contracts for bottom pairing d-men – Seabrook’s is just $2.3M worse than Zaitsev’s. But, Toronto is more in need of cap relief next season than they will the following season when Marleau ($6.2M) comes off the books.

  12. Zaitsev played with Reilly all year, not close to bottom pair, arguably top pair most of the season, they need rid of cap is my point not tied into a bigger one.

  13. We ve got the space to acquire a young player and a mid age range player by using the space. Be creative and keep it to 1 or 2 yrs.

  14. Ian, I knew what your point was – I just have a different perspective.

    Regarding Zaitsev – where he played on the Leafs doesn’t mean he is or isn’t a “top pairing” d-man relative to the abilities a top pairing d-man should have. Zaitsev isn’t a top pairing d-man, regardless of Toronto playing him there due to lack of better options.

  15. Personally after seeing a lot of his games this year not sold on Zaitsev-way over rated at start and has played more like the 5/6 he is.
    Spend money wisely!

  16. Interesting comments here.
    Proves Chicago fans are knowledgeable and have a lot of class.

  17. Listening to podcast today and Eliite Prospects Burke says Chi should take Alex Turcotte without hesitation. Everything he said sold me on this player completely.
    So after saying I want Dylan Cozens for the longest time I now have changed to Turcotte.

    Also, he said if Bowen Byram was in last years deaft hed place him after Quinn Hughes which I thought was interesting and furthers my thoughts on not picking him.

  18. I thought Cozens at first and for most the time. Turcotte is better then ok. Why do the red wings care so much if we get him. They want him that bad.

    Kabalik could be like a 12th pick and we get draft lottery top 3 pick. That is how we get what we needed. People here wanted to build through the draft. The Four horsemen and top 3 pick.

    Sort of like getting Kaner. We won the draft. Game changer.

  19. Thanks Zoags. I think its Turcotte or Zegras or Caufield. If you read Mark Kelley’s comments in his recent interview with the Athletic, he saves his superlative words like “dynamic”, “the best” for only certain players.

    For guys like Dach and Cozens he uses terms like “prototypical”.

    To me that’s telling.

  20. Thanks Loags, the lack of comparison to last years draft has is one thing i noticed was avoided in the Byram writeups. Turcotte would be a great pick, just hope in a few years we say they got it right.

  21. Having read similar reports that Byram would not likely have been top 1-2 D-man selected in recent drafts, I do think the Hawks go Turcotte instead. Turcotte’s 2-way play and overall excellent skillset put him just a shade below the top 2. He already has plenty of size and strength.
    However, if Byram is selected, it’s encouraging to me since the Hawks clearly believe he’s a special talent, a top D-pairing like some of the guys to whom he is compared.
    There’s so much happening with this team. I like the signings, not that I think each will become the next Panarin, but because most could become extremely useful pieces for JC. Kubalik may have significant upside, just a feeling.

  22. First off Burke has one opinion with ref to B Bowen and the majority think he is a number one def and they dont come along everyday so you scoop them when you can. We have cap space to maybe get a Kevin Hayes or someone similar that is not in Panarins neighborhood so filling a Center position immediately is the goal here i think.

    we are not drafting for need we are drafting the best player..defense could be a huge strength in 4 years especially with Bowen joining the growing list of D Prospects…Craig Button called Bowen a young Paul Coffey…everyone has their opinion

  23. so why is everyone focused on where Bowen would have been taken in previous drafts?? we took Keith Brown over Ray Bourque because other then Bourques Junior team owner was threatening legal action he was also considered not tough enough or fast enough etc..its about many factors where success is concerned like environment, team style, team stability and how patient a team is etc and we thought we stole Brown at the time and wash took Veitch in front of Coffey the next year…you take the guy you like and put him in the best position to succeed period.

    He would immediately be our top def prospect besides and he would be groomed by a former two time Norris trophy winner…for the record i would take the KHL Russian if i had a choice but Bowen to me is the smartest choice

  24. I am not focused on where he would have went in previous drafts, as i said why is the comparison to last years defensively strong so obviously avoided by those mock drafters who are so sure about him.

  25. re: Zaitsev – he’s got a similar cap hit to Anisimov.


    I back up to most of what I wrote last summer and in evaluating where the 2018-19 season went wrong. At what point do you stop trying to buy stopgap veterans to fill every roster hole and actually see if the kids you’ve drafted/developed are good? The Blackhawks already have 10 defensemen who are in the mix for the 6 NHL roster spots next year. If you trade an asset for Zaitsev – noting that Toronto can’t add salary at this point so let’s ignore the Seabrook pipe dream immediately – then what are you really accomplishing in a deal for him? A flat salary-for-salary move?

    I’m a pass on Zaitsev. I want to see the kids play in the NHL in 2019-20 and beyond and he doesn’t help that happen in any way.

  26. Dave-Bowen isnt the smartest choice if these centres are better and the charts on Alex Turcotte are thru the roof in some categories.

    And if Byram is in the same category as all the defense we already have how is this the best situation for him? Its not.

    Turcotte would enter a team where he would have Toews as a mentor and would flourish in this system which was your point. the choice *period

    *(sorry for copying you, Dave. Couldnt help myself. You sounded so stern ;) )

  27. Having now watched the Mark Kelley interview from the combine and read the transcript, here’s what jumps out :

    1) He told Reporters this is NOT going to be a tough decision at #3. So in other words after their meetings in June, Bowman and Kelley will decide on THE GUY and fly to Vancouver for the draft and make the pick. There will be very little hemming and hawing in the final days (Unlike in 2017 in which the video shows the Hawks on the clock and Bowman asking the scouts at the draft table, who they wanted Jokihariju or Tolvanen)

    2) Kelley was pretty quick in saying he had not made up his mind who he wants.

    3) His reaction to the trading back question was almost like – why would we do that ? then he went into it being Stan’s department.

  28. I think this season is the yr to not get any tank ufas and let the younger players play. Not all at once just one or so at a time. This yr coming up should be the last yr were not deep. The 21 season we should be ready to roll. Lets do that this yr because making our 23man is going to harder every yr going forward.

  29. Loags”no worries im a very intense Hawks fan from way back :)

    I Think Bowen is a level or two ahead of anyone we have and even though my pick is Podz i rank my value picks after the big two like this even though 6 or 7 of them are very close

    1. Bowen You can never have enough
    2 Podz It would take guts but imagine him and Kane together
    3 Zegras Love this guy
    4 Turcotte he does it all and id be happy with him
    5 Krebs this guy is capt material with off the charts compete, could be the best of the lot when all is said and done…I would love to have a 2nd pick in the top ten just to grab him as well no matter who we pick.

    In con these mocks are always wrong and players come out of know where every draft .. we all have opinions because we love this time of the year. I rem being depressed when we got stuck with Savard instead of Wickenheiser lol

  30. Craig, thats good to hear that. To me that means our guys think there is only one or so and they are above the others, a gap between. Which prob means Byram or Tucotte, maybe.

  31. Well, if you sign Perlini, and draft Cozens, Then the 2nd line is Perlini, Strome, DeBrincat. The 3rd line is Saad, Cozens, Kahun. 4th line is Wedin, Highmore-Johnson, and Hayden.

    Barring trades and acquisitions and minor league surprises.

  32. Despite what Stan says, the Hawks are looking at this draft as if they have the number 1 pick with no Hughes or Kakko in the draft. There is absolutely no doubt Hughes and Kakko are 1A and 1B.
    So after all the pomp and circumstance, the Hawks lead off the, rest of the draft. Forget the other two. That’s why Kelley is so calm. If Turcotte is number one(3)on their board, they are taking him. If Caufield is number 1(3), they are taking him, same thing with Zegras and Byram.
    Think about it. The only trade that is out there, would be if Colorado called and wanted to move up from 4 to 3 and was willing to trade pick number 20. Stan would have to know in advance that Sakic wants Byram and the Hawks don’t. Trading back any further to say Detroit at 6 and suddenly the Hawks lose control of getting the guy they truly want. No way. That defeats the point of hitting the lottery.

    Conclusion: Hawks take Turcotte at #3

  33. Craig I like your logic and Turcotte is an Illinois product.

    no 0ne ever knows what Bowman will do in FA or the draft…he keeps everything close to the vest and trading up and down is in his DNA. Im sure the end result will take everyone by surprise

  34. Didnt Bowman and someone else say right after the draft lottery top 3 pick. Game changer, We now have our future center to follow in Johnathan Toews footsteps.

  35. I know about all of the Blackhawks defensive and offensive needs, but there is also the need of toughness. No matter how much we improve talent-wise, we are still easy to play against. Pursuant to that, I recently saw the Ducks release Darian Skeoch who happens to be a marginally talented player who fights like Probert in his prime. He wouldn’t cost anything to acquire and you can scratch him every time you play a softer team. Otherwise, why not invest $3 Mil on Michael Ferland. He checks like clutterbuck, fights like Joey Kocur, yet is a 40 point guy. He’s a UFA. GET HIM! I’m tired of our Hawks being such patsies. The officials even whistle our players for negligible contact because we are one little team still under their thumb and they want to keep it that way.

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