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FEATURE: Blackhawks See Long-Term Impact in Top Pick Lukas Reichel

With raw talent and hockey IQ in place, first-round pick projected to play key role in Chicago's top six in years to come

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

The lights come up inside Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin. 'The Kurve' supporters group is full-voice behind the Blackhawks' net. And 17-year-old Lukas Reichel awaits the opening faceoff, shoulder-to-shoulder with his childhood idol, Patrick Kane.

It's September 29, 2019. Chicago is gearing up in a final test ahead of the 2019-20 season against German-powerhouse Eisbären Berlin. It's an international exhibition game that, as it turns out, would foreshadow the NHL-hopeful Reichel's destiny a year and one week later. 

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THE VERDICT: Humble and Heroic, Crawford was the Rock Chicago Needed

'Every goal he allowed was his fault, even when it wasn't. That's how this Crow flies.'

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

Nobody knows when the Blackhawks will play again. Gary Bettman, the ambitious commisioner of the National Hockey League, has targeted, with fingers crossed, January 1 as a start date for next season. What this means, at the very least, is that we will have turned the calendar of 2020, a year of living horribly, with fear and trembling.

But even if that works, who would dare venture a guess as to what the United Center will look like? Will the stands be empty? Will there be some fans, socially distanced? Will they be able to buy a beer and try to feel normal again? Will they have their temperature checked before being seated?

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THE VERDICT: Blackhawks Draft Familiar Face in an Unfamiliar Draft

The setup was unlike any other, but Chicago got their guy in German winger Lukas Reichel at No. 17 overall

by Bob Verdi / Blackhawks.com

Well, I finally made it to the gym on Tuesday.

Luckily, it was closed. Tuesday, you see, was the day for the annual, but delayed, National Hockey League Draft. Because it's 2020, a year that cannot end fast enough, the Blackhawks converted the second level of their spiffy practice facility at Fifth Third Arena into a war room where they would select a future star who soon will use those barbells, treadmills, exercise bikes and other annoying machines. 

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FEATURE: Scouting for the Most Unique NHL Draft to Date

Mark Kelley hopeful changes ahead of 2020 NHL Draft pay dividends for Blackhawks and become part of new norm

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman opens the festivities next Tuesday night, for the first time in 40 years, there won't be any spectators on-hand to witness likely No. 1 overall selection Alexis Lafrenière's name called. No on-stage photo op as players don their new colors for the very first time. No collective NHL world housed under one cavernous arena roof. 

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FEATURE: Highmore a Vital Depth Role for Blackhawks Going Forward

Forward grows into consistent piece of Blackhawks bottom six in second half

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

A former undrafted free agent, Matthew Highmore knows a thing or two about perseverance and hard work.

After an up-and-down journey (literally) to becoming an NHL regular, his work ethic that could be a model for the Blackhawks roster going forward. 

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FEATURE: Boqvist Makes Full-Time NHL Jump in Rookie Campaign

Arriving at the NHL level earlier than many planned, Adam Boqvist proved he's ready to lead the blue line into the future

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

By all accounts, the original plan for Adam Boqvist in 2019-20 was one largely focused on development in the AHL. 

A first-year pro who already had the obvious offensive tools in his game, he self-admittedly had some catching up to do on the other side of the puck. A adjustment year in Rockford largely focused on becoming a more rounded player with perhaps a taste of the NHL level would set him up for an impact role heading into the 2020-21 season. But with injuries on the Blackhawks blue line and a slow start to the year for the team, opportunity knocked for Boqvist in early November.

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FEATURE: Consistent Saad Rebounded from Rare Injury for Near-Career Year

One of Chicago's most consistent forwards all year, Saad's 2019-20 performance one of his best as a Blackhawk

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

Sitting on the sidelines is not something Brandon Saad has had much experience with throughout his career. Since his debut as a regular in the lineup in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the winger had missed just nine total games in seven NHL seasons prior to 2019-20. So when he missed 13 games in late December and early January with an ankle injury, it was a new obstacle for the nearly 600-game veteran.

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FEATURE: Murphy Emerging as Blue Line Force for Blackhawks

In third season in Chicago, Connor Murphy took a big step forward as a staple on the back end

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

Connor Murphy is quietly asserting himself as force on the Blackhawks blue line. 

A consistent name over the last three seasons, the 27-year-old defenseman played in 78 games during his first year but was largely held to a third-pair role with just 16:22 of average ice time. He missed 30 games in 2018-19 with a back injury delaying his start to the season and continued to grow into a top-four role over the back half. He was bit again by the injury bug early in 2019-20, but rebounded once again for his most impactful year to date with the Blackhawks.

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FEATURE: Kubalik Takes NHL by Storm in Rookie Season

Simply hoping to make the roster out of camp, Kubalik became a defining piece of the Blackhawks offense in 2019-20

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

One year ago, Dominik Kubalik was simply hoping to make the Blackhawks roster. 

"I had this conversation a couple days ago when I got back with my family," he said, reflecting on the last 12 months. "Exactly a year ago we were hoping that I was going to be in Prague."

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FEATURE: DeBrincat Putting Down Year Behind Him, Building Towards Rebound

Following a lower offensive output in his third year, Alex DeBrincat is looking to bounce back heading into next season

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

Alex DeBrincat knows that his third NHL season didn't live up to his breakout sophomore year. 

"Obviously this year wasn't the best year for me," he said last week reflecting on a campaign that saw his 41-goal, 76-point season from a year prior drop to just 18 tallies and 45 points in 2019-20. 

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