R. Aaron Houde | Aug 26th, 2019
Over the last decade, the Stanley Cup has called Chicago home three times (2009-2010, 2012-2013, and 2014-2015). Following their most recent win, the Chicago Blackhawks exited the playoffs twice in the first round and have failed to make the post-season the last two years. Last season was a step up from the year before in terms of points, but they were last in the league in terms of Goals Against, largely in part to goaltender Corey Crawford being on the Injured Reserve due to a concussion and missing 28 games, and again with a groin injury. But despite that, Chicago maintains a reputation of being a very dangerous team, and here is why.
Andrew Shaw was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for future Draft Choices, and Zack Smith was aquired from the Ottawa Senators for Artem Anisimov. Additionally, Chicago got Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Dominik Kahun, and Calvin de Haan from the Carolina Hurricanes in a multi-player trade. In the Free Agent Market, Chicago managed to secure goaltender Robin Lehner, who will more than likely share the net evenly with Crawford, if Crawford can stay healthy. And, in a surprise to a lot of people, with the third pick overall, Chicago drafted Kirby Dach.
As noted above, the Blackhawks lost Anisimov in a trade with the Senators, and Kahun with a trade to the Penguins. Cam Ward, who is currently unsigned on the Free Agency, is not expected to return to the Blackhawks. But, these departures aren’t going to impact the Hawks too much with their additions.
Overview of Changes:
Kahun leaving the lineup is definitely going to be noticed, but the young players that the Blackhawks have on the roster have shown a lot of promise and can probably pick up the slack, down to the bottom six forwards and their depth defense. It is surprising to look at the team they have and know they haven’t seen the playoffs since 2017, but that say’s a lot about the role Crawford plays in the team’s success. Having a solid backup (or replacement, maybe) like Lehner will make a huge difference.
Can Crawford stay healthy, and if not, will Lehner have another season as he did for the New York Islanders last year? Can the defensive corps for the Blackhawks help their goaltenders out? The addition of de Haan and Maatta should help, and hopefully, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith can lend a hand.
This team is still a very dangerous one, and in spite of the numbers at the end of the season, they are still able to deliver on offense, and with having a reliable goaltender in the wait, and a healthy Corey Crawford, it is very hard to bet against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Back to the Playoffs, but no further than Round 2.
Check out our other 2019-2020 NHL Team Previews:
Colorado Avalanche|Florida Panthers|Dallas Stars|Arizona Coyotes|New Jersey Devils|San Jose Sharks|Buffalo Sabres|Los Angeles Kings|Vancouver Canucks|Winnipeg Jets|Carolina Hurricanes|Boston Bruins|Ottawa Senators|New York Islanders|Minnesota Wild|Vegas Golden Knights|Detroit Red Wings|Pittsburgh Penguins
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images