Saturday, October 8, 2016
2016-17 season preview: Chicago Blackhawks
It was another full of changes perennial contender for the Chicago Blackhawks Jersey, an organization offseason for which the salary cap gymnastics have become a rite of summer. The Blackhawks continue to set the bar very high in terms of the way to stay in the mix, despite dealing with moving parts every year.
GM Stan Bowman is one of the best at his job, finding ways to plug holes and keep his team in the elite. In the spring of 2015, Artemi Panarin plucked out of the KHL as a free agent, a free addition of assets, and watched as the Russian striker won the Calder Trophy last season as NHL rookie of the year. It's that kind of movement that has kept Chicago ahead of the curve.
Still, the offices of salary cap last offseason Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teräväinen will prove that the formula of this year. Chicago begins the season with more question marks up front what we have seen, perhaps all the way Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.
I made the first-round playoff exit last spring after a monster series with the St. Louis Blues sign of a new era, more deadly to the Blackhawks?
Or was the right time to reset and stronger around the nucleus of talent led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford time - a quintet that had turned against any group in the NHL?
In another vein, I would say that the hawks are deeper on defense now than they have been in a long time.
This season will actually tell the tale. Moreover, as Bowman has shown time and again, the team that starts the season is not necessarily the same club that going into the playoffs. He is as aggressive as any GM in the NHL when it comes to make changes before the trade deadline.
The best new faces
The Blackhawks have been too thin blue line in the last two seasons. They won a cup in 2015, while much playing only four defenders and basically relied on his three runners last year. Bowman addressed aggressively by adding veteran free agent Brian Campbell in a bid to bargain and strike other NHL teams for the KHL free agent Michal Kempny, who played in the Czech Republic at the World Cup of Hockey and shows all elements of a type that should be a constant defender of the NHL.
The Hawks are also very high in 20-year-old Swedish defender Gustav Forsling. With a first four of Keith, Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Campbell, a third decent match Kempny and / or Forsling with Trevor van Riemsdyk, and depth at No. 8 in Michal Rozsival, Chicago is in much better shape than it was the previous season. Forsling it not is sent to the AHL - would have to be offered back to his Swedish team if the Hawks did not do keep wishlist NHL - so realize that means you will at least start the season with Chicago .
There are also other organizational depth in Viktor Svedberg, Ville Pokka and Erik Gustafsson. The three will begin the season in the AHL, but with 11 defenses capable, Chicago seems better prepared to handle injuries and the long season at the rear end.
The exit to the front of Shaw and Teräväinen, victims of the salary cap, an upper group thins and nine had question marks last season. Do not forget that trade-ins Andrew Ladd term and Dale Weise have also changed, as expected.
It has been a long time since Quenneville opened the season with so many question marks on the front. The Hawks were largely a one-line team last season, but a heck of a time as Artem Anisimov unit between Kane and Artemi Panarin Jersey lit the NHL. Quenneville is sufficiently concerned about finding Toews some help to get on with his statement that could break training camp Kane-Panarin connection? Vincent Hinostroza be rookies, Nick and Tyler Motte Schmaltz make an impact this season? Richard Panik, one last season collection resignation, had a look with Toews in the playoffs. You can deliver a sustained role?
Another unknown: how will go to Keith after offseason surgery on his right knee, forcing him to sit out the World Cup of Hockey. He underwent surgery to repair the knee last year, but the news that it was necessary to rehabilitate had to make at least minor concern. The 33-year-old is one of the best defenses in the league, and the Hawks need a healthy season from him to fight again.
Corey Crawford posted a 2.37 goals against average and a save percentage of 0.924 to 58 games last season, including a career-high seven shutouts. Bill Smith / Getty Images
Crawford retires definitely his best NHL season and an appearance in the World Cup in which a backup and Carey Price has to start a game. He is solid as a rock on the network and one of the five best goalkeepers in the world, in my opinion.
The 1-2 punch Kane and Toews front is why the Hawks always have a chance. Kane is coming off a season in which Hart Trophy led the NHL in scoring, and showing no signs of slowing. It is an absolute artist on ice. During the World Cup, Toews Jersey showed once again the kind of beast and two-way clutch player is.
Finally, Marcus Kruger is a perfect fit as the center punch 1-2-3 No. 3. This serves as an anchor around all the other uncertainty in the lead.
The Blackhawks are playoff bound, for sure, but what remains a mystery at this point is whether they can regain their status cup contender among the top five teams in the NHL. They have the kind of questions in advance that we have not seen in a long time. Yes, the blue line is better, and this team is solid on the rock arch. Winning the division is not a priority for the Blackhawks. Another Cup race? That does not surprise me. Third in the center.