The Chicago Blackhawks have just come off one of their worst seasons in club history as they finished dead last in the Central division, leaving a lot of fans around the globe asking the same question; “What happened?”
On paper the Blackhawks are rock solid, they boast some of the biggest names in the NHL in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith and with Corey Crawford in net what could possibly go wrong?
It all comes down to the route of all evil, Money. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane take up $21-million and building a team around players of that cost is a difficult task, especially when you factor in injuries to some of their players.
Corey Crawford was on fire early in the season but was unfortunately injured against the Dallas Stars and was placed on the injury list on December 1st 2017, this injury combined with a second he sustained in his return game meant that the all-star goalie was going to be sidelined for the rest of the campaign.
The loss of a goalie has a knock-on effect.
With the loss of Crawford it would seem that the defencemen were beginning to feel the strain. Having a goalie with a 92 SV% and a 2.27 GAA who has been a mainstay for the past 10 years go out with a longterm injury can really damage a defenders confidence. Having a player through on a breakaway on the Crawfish filled you with more confidence than it did when they broke through to the newly acquired Anton Forsberg who ended the season with a respectable 2.97 GAA and 90% SV% but is yet to really prove himself in the NHL and at 25 he’s still relatively young and inexperienced.
But have faith though, everyone starts somewhere and even Crawford didn’t exactly hit the ice running in his first few NHL seasons.
Another problem came from the returning Brandon Saad, traded as part of the deal that took all-star winger Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Bluejackets. Saad posted just 35 points in 82 games and after seeing Panarin posting more than a point a game, it’s understandable that fans were giving both him and the backroom staff a lot of heat.
Speaking of low point scorers, veteran Blackhawks legend defenceman Duncan Keith posted woeful numbers for the season and some of the lowest of his career as he managed just 32 points in 82 games, netting only twice for the Blackhawks. When you’re a leader and you’re not performing, there are people who will be screaming for your head!
But wait, fellow Chicago fans for all is not lost.
Alex DeBrincat or Patrick Kane v2 as I like to call him, has been absolutely monumental this season, standing at 5’7″ and weighing just shy of a bag of sugar, this Detroit born winger has been on fire hitting 52 points in his rookie season this included 3 hat-tricks and the team high 28 goals. In doing so, DeBrincat was awarded Blackhawks player of the year and it looks like he’s going to be the next superstar in the roster.
The other shining star was Erik Gustafsson, the Swedish born defender was brought back into the Blackhawks after spending time in the AHL and has proved himself worthy of a 2-year contract extension off the back of his great performances, netting himself a gold with Sweden at the 2018 IHWC.
It’s looking very unlikely that the Blackhawks will be a powerhouse team without a lot of reshuffling and a few additions. They need to get themselves a solid forward who can run the play in a way that Jonathan Toews did a few years ago and they need to find themselves a few jewels in the upcoming draft. According to TSN the prospected picks are:
8th – Adam Boqvist, Oliver Wahlstrom, Jesperi Kotkaniemi
27th – Filip Hallander, Jacob Olofsson, Martin Kaut, Rasmus Sandin