As January winds down, the Chicago Blackhawks are on the outside looking in when information technology comes to securing a spot in the playoffs. All signs point towards them being sellers at the Mar. 21 trade deadline. Then, who will they proceed and who will they sell to the highest bidder? This Blackhawks’ team could be a whole lot different in the 2022-23 campaign, every bit they look to rebuild or at least retool to become more than competitive.

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With all this in mind, today I’d like to discuss centre
Dylan Strome, who’due south been the target of merchandise talks for a few seasons now. For many reasons, Strome has struggled to discover his fit with the team, and the Blackhawks have been openly shopping him. But they also haven’t exactly been putting him in a position to succeed. His production has therefore suffered, and so has his merchandise value.

Until the terminal handful of games.

Now all of the sudden the 24-year-old has turned things effectually and looks like a legitimate meridian line heart. So much so, one could make an argument to retain him. Permit’s look at a few reasons why the Blackhawks should consider keeping Strome in the fold.

Strome’southward Development & Resurgence

Final season, Jonathan Toews was out all flavour and Kirby Dach missed all simply 18 games. This is when Strome was supposed to step upwards and take on that No. 1 center role. He wasn’t able to do that. Former head coach Jeremy Colliton instead focused on Strome’s defensive deficiencies. He favored other players who were stronger in that surface area to take on the summit centering responsibilities. Strome found himself playing mostly among the bottom-six forrad. He was then shifted to the wing, and towards the end of the flavour was a frequent healthy scratch.

Dylan Strome has struggled to find his fit with the Chicago Blackhawks over the last few seasons. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This flavour, Strome has dealt with like adversity with both Colliton and interim head bus Derek King. To his credit, King has given Strome more opportunities to show himself, while as well working with him to amend his play off the puck. For the most part, it’s worked. Co-ordinate to Marking Lazerus of The Athletic, Dom Luszczyszyn’south player cards have Strome worth nine.two fewer goals than the boilerplate histrion, and his goals confronting per 60 average is better than former Blackhawk and two-way player Brandon Saad. Sure, he’southward existence protected in a more than sheltered role. But it’south improvement, and it’south paying dividends on the other side of the puck (from ‘Lazerus: Maddening every bit he tin can be, hanging on to Dylan Strome is amend for the Blackhawks’, The AthleticCHI – 1/28/22).

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In Strome’s last ix games, he’south been on a tear offensively. He’due south been a regular member of the superlative power play unit, and for the last seven games he’s been deployed equally the pinnacle line center in between Brandon Hagel and Patrick Kane. He’s contributed 4 goals and vii assists, including a hat fob and a 4-indicate game against the Detroit Cherry-red Wings on Jan. 26. His faceoff success charge per unit has been a phenomenal 62%. Strome has been working hard to improve in this area. For the season, he has a 55.7 FO%. His career boilerplate before that was 47%. It appears he’s finally plant his groove in this department, which is a pretty important component of being a superlative center.

Blackhawks Demand More Depth at Center

Who else practice the Blackhawks have to contribute downwardly the middle moving frontwards? Obviously there’s Toews. But Toews’ contract is upwardly afterwards next flavor. Who knows if he will cull to re-sign with the Blackhawks. Heck, I’m getting alee of myself. Toews is currently in concussion protocol, and coming off a full season of not playing due to health issues.

Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews might not be the all-time option at center anymore for the Chicago Blackhawks. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The captain’south future is certainly murky. Volition he be forced to retire? And if not, tin can he maintain the level of play we’ve all get accustomed to from him? We’ve seen from his struggles this flavor this is likely non possible. At this point in his career Toews should probably have less responsibility, perhaps in a third-line center office.

Dach is some other pick at centre. He was slated to be Toews’ heir when he was drafted third overall by the Blackhawks in the 2019 NHL Draft. But so far he hasn’t shown he can live upwards to this expectation. There are some great things about Dach’s game. He physical and stiff on the puck. He’s has a ton of skill and a high hockey IQ. He creates chances for himself and his linemates. Just he can’t finish, and he tin’t win faceoffs. His career faceoff pct is an abysmal 35.3%. It’southward unclear where Dach will fit in moving forwards.

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Kirby Dach Chicago Blackhawks
Kirby Dach hasn’t exactly lived up to his draft pedigree with the Chicago Blackhawks. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Then in that location’due south the Blackhawks’ elevation prospect Lukas Reichel. He lined up as the top line heart for the two games he was chosen upwards for in mid-January. He certainly looked the role in that small sample size. But he’southward also played on the wing most of his career and so far. A transition into the NHL could see him better suited to play wing. Most chiefly, while he likely has a bright hereafter with the Blackhawks, he’s still an unknown commodity.

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This uncertainty at center is where having someone like Strome around could come in awfully handy.

Would Strome Take a Hometown Discount?

Strome is a restricted costless amanuensis after this flavor and would have to receive a qualifying offer of at least $3.half dozen one thousand thousand. Some might say he’s not worth it for that kind of money, and he’ll probable be looking for more money and a longer-term deal.

Simply hither’due south the thing. Nobody else in the league has been interested in taking on Strome or his contract for over a year now. Certain, his recent production could alter someone’s listen. But what will the Blackhawks likely get for him? In The Athletic’south cited piece above, Mark Lazerus said an NHL executive indicated Strome would be worth a tertiary-round typhoon choice on the market. That’s it. A lowly third-circular option is another unknown commodity, when you already know what yous have in Strome.

The Ontario native has made it clear he loves Chicago and would like to stay here. He believes he tin contribute for the Blackhawks. He’d obviously love to stay on the same team with his long-time friend, Alex DeBrincat. And playing alongside Kane is something not many players are going to complain well-nigh. Let’s face it; he’s congenital some good chemical science with teammates in his 4 seasons with the Blackhawks.

Chicago Blackhawks celebrate
There is a singled-out possibility Dylan Strome would take a hometown discount to remain with the Chicago Blackhawks. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

So why wouldn’t he be willing to take a hometown discount? Would Strome take his qualifying offer amount and sign a contract for just i or two seasons? This would requite him a chance to stay put, and prove himself equally a member of the new cadre for the Blackhawks.

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In the meantime, the the Blackhawks could use him as an insurance policy of sorts. Yes, in that location’s non much flexibility with Strome. He can’t be moved effectually throughout the lineup. He needs to play with meridian players in order to be successful. Simply if the arrangement is willing to commit to that, Strome could buy them some time until they tin better round out their roster for the future.

The next few months are certainly going to exist interesting equally the Blackhawks make up one’s mind who they are going to build around, and who they are going to trade for picks and prospects in the name of future success. Either way, Strome’s recent play has made him a top contender for both. I believe his value is all-time to stay with the team.