Chicago Blackhawks 2021 season preview: Plotting the next steps in the rebuild

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The 2019-20 Chicago Blackhawks finished in last place in the Central Division, but thanks to the NHL's expanded, 24-team postseason tournament in 2020, they got to play some hockey in the bubble. And they didn't just play, they upset the No. 5-seeded Edmonton Oilers in the qualification round, in one of the biggest shocks in recent postseason memory.

The offseason has not gotten off to a great start, as three critical players are out indefinitely, and the team seems to be in need of a significant retooling to get back to Stanley Cup contention.

What should fans expect out of the Blackhawks in the 2020-21 season? Here's what to know ahead of opening night:

Big question: Just how bad are the Blackhawks going to be?

GM Stan Bowman finally admitted the obvious this offseason: Chicago is in a rebuild. And the process may not be that pretty.

The Blackhawks didn't re-sign Corey Crawford, instead turning to an unproven trio of youngsters in net. They traded Brandon Saad (21 goals last season), are without two of their top young forwards in Kirby Dach (wrist surgery) and Alex Nylander (knee surgery) for most of the season, and captain Jonathan Toews (60 points last season) isn't reporting to camp as he tries to get to the bottom of a medical mystery. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.