If Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews stay, what will Blackhawks’ lines look like?

The Blackhawks will not be an offensive juggernaut next season. But at least after Wednesday, they’re on track to ice a full and roughly NHL-caliber roster of forwards.

For starters, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews appear increasingly likely to stick around.

Their agent, Pat Brisson, told TSN’s Pierre LeBrun on Wednesday that “while they’re not necessarily in agreement with the direction the team is taking, they will let the dust settle first and then patiently make the best decisions…[for] their respective careers.”

Toews was practicing in high spirits Wednesday morning at Fifth Third Arena with Hawks skills coaches, Connor Murphy, MacKenzie Entwistle and several other Chicago-based NHL players.

And finally, very few teams are still flush in salary cap space after Wednesday’s activity. That reality means Kane and Toews’ contracts will be difficult to move this offseason even if they do eventually request trades.

In-season next year, most likely at the trade deadline, now appears to be the most plausible time for their Chicago departures.

So pencil Kane and Toews into the first line of a theoretical depth chart. On their wing, the Hawks could either deploy either Domi or Athanasiou, who have both shown upper-end scoring potential in years past, or top rookie Lukas Reichel.

Reichel presents an interesting decision. The Hawks won’t want their top forward prospect toiling away with inadequate wingers on an awful team. He’ll develop best either playing wing alongside Toews and Kane or starring at center in the AHL for yet another season.

Tyler Johnson and Blackwell will be the Hawks’ second- and third-line centers, which will be one of many major weaknesses in this depth chart.

Domi, Athanasiou, Taylor Raddysh, Sam Lafferty and –once he’s re-signed — Philipp Kurashev will presumably rotate around Johnson and Blackwell’s wings. The Hawks would love to see Raddysh and Lafferty maintain the momentum from their encouraging March and April performances.

On the fourth line, Entwistle and Boris Katchouk are fairly sure bets, while Mike Hardman, Reese Johnson and Josiah Slavin will compete for playing time.

Prospect updates

Despite the off-ice buzz, Hawks development camp continued as normal Wednesday, with the prospects participating in on-ice testing drills.

Among the Hawks’ stacked group of defensemen, Ethan Del Mastro and Louis Crevier have flown somewhat under the radar, but they’re worth keeping eyes on.

Both have already signed entry-level contracts, defying the odds for players in their draft positions: Crevier was taken in the seventh round in 2020, Del Mastro in the fourth round in 2021.

Both also have tremendous size: Crevier measured in at 6-8, 219 pounds — and he’s hoping to eventually bulk up to around 235 –while Del Mastro measured in at 6-4, 209 pounds, and said that’ll be roughly his permanent weight.

Del Mastro, in particular, is developing at an exciting rate. After tallying seven points in 57 games for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads in 2019-20, then not playing in 2020-21 due to COVID-19, he exploded for 48 points in 68 games as Mississauga’s captain this past year. He’ll return next season as one of the OHL’s top defensemen.

“I showcased a little more offense and poise with the puck, for sure,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always had in my game. It’s just been about showing it.”

Added Mark Eaton, who’s running the camp for the Hawks: “[Ethan is] filling out, getting stronger and learning how to use that size and reach to his advantage. The sky’s the limit.”

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