Blackhawks’ 2023-24 lineup looking clearer as Kyle Davidson focuses on depth, versatility

The Hawks are “very close” to being done, with defensive depth being the only box left to check — and they might wait until training camp to add it. RFA Philipp Kurashev filed for salary arbitration Wednesday, but that was expected.

SHARE Blackhawks’ 2023-24 lineup looking clearer as Kyle Davidson focuses on depth, versatility
Blackhawks forwards Lukas Reichel and Philipp Kurashev.

Lukas Reichel and Philipp Kurashev (who filed for salary arbitration Wednesday) could be on a line together with the Blackhawks next season.

Erin Hooley/AP

The Blackhawks are “very, very close to being done” with offseason moves, general manager Kyle Davidson said Wednesday.

Davidson hasn’t done anything in five days — since signing Ryan Donato on Saturday. And although he does want to bring in more right-side defensive depth at some point, that box might not be checked until during training camp. The Hawks did have good luck with last-minute additions last year, claiming Jarred Tinordi off waivers and trading for Jason Dickinson.

“We might look at a spot or two for depth [signings], but we may also just stay patient on that and wait until the fall,” Davidson said. “[There’s] nothing we’re chasing right now.”

Instead, Davidson is now mostly looking ahead and thinking about potential lineups for next season, even though individual camp performances and coach Luke Richardson’s ideas will ultimately also influence how those shake out.

Davidson actually signed Donato with next year’s lineup in mind, appreciating the fact Donato can play all three forward positions. Associate general manager Norm Maciver’s familiarity with Donato from overlapping on the Kraken helped, too.

“We wanted to make sure, if we do find ourselves in a spot with injuries, we do have some versatile veterans ... to bounce around and take some different roles,” Davidson said. “Ryan definitely fit the bill.”

That versatility will be helpful as the Hawks give young forwards Connor Bedard, Lukas Reichel and Cole Guttman opportunities to play center, which Davidson said they plan to do. (The Hawks do expect Guttman to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery in time for camp.)

If some of those youngsters end up needing to move to wing, the Hawks want some veteran wings — guys like Donato, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Johnson — who could move to center in exchange. Dickinson is the only veteran locked into a center spot.

There was Philipp Kurashev news Wednesday as the Hawks’ lone restricted free agent filed for salary arbitration (along with 21 other RFAs around the league). Davidson anticipated that move and said he’s optimistic the two sides will “get something ironed out” before the actual arbitration hearing.

With all that in mind, this is a reasonable time to start projecting the Hawks’ 2023-24 depth chart.

Forwards

Taylor Hall — Connor Bedard — Taylor Raddysh

Philipp Kurashev — Lukas Reichel — Andreas Athanasiou

Ryan Donato — Jason Dickinson — Tyler Johnson

Nick Foligno — Cole Guttman — Corey Perry

In the mix: Colin Blackwell, Boris Katchouk, MacKenzie Entwistle, Reese Johnson, Joey Anderson

This is a rough guess at the forward lineup because it will likely change regularly throughout the season. Hall will definitely be with Bedard, and Reichel and Kurashev have demonstrated strong chemistry, but little else is cemented.

The first-line right-wing spot is the biggest role up for grabs, but even the battle for NHL roster spots is hard to predict. All five “in-the-mix” players were NHL regulars for the Hawks last season who now find themselves in jeopardy.

Defensemen

Kevin Korchinski — Seth Jones

Alex Vlasic — Connor Murphy

Jarred Tinordi — Wyatt Kaiser

In the mix: Nikita Zaitsev, Isaak Phillips, Filip Roos, future addition(s)

Whether Korchinski makes the Hawks’ NHL roster — and, if so, whether he’ll spend the entire season on it — remains to be seen. The answer will have a big impact on the lineup, as the Hawks will want Korchinski handling big minutes to gain experience if he is in Chicago.

Both Tinordi and Kaiser are left-handed shots, whereas Zaitsev is right-handed but struggled mightily last season. This is where Davidson should eventually add more depth.

Goaltenders

Petr Mrazek

Arvid Soderblom

In the mix: Jaxson Stauber, Drew Commesso

It seems clear Mrazek and Soderblom will share the NHL net while Stauber and Commesso share the AHL net.

Commesso, making his much-anticipated pro debut, said Wednesday he has adopted Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s offseason routine — which emphasizes intense stretching and yoga — to prepare himself.

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