We are 22 days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the Chicago Blackhawks.
|Brian Campbell – D – (from FLA)||Andrew Ladd – LW – (to NYI)|
|Jordin Tootoo – RW – (from NJD)||Andrew Shaw – C – (to MTL)|
|Teuvo Teravainen – RW – (to CAR)|
|Dale Weise – RW – (to PHI)|
|Bryan Bickell – (to CAR)|
In 2015-16 the Chicago Blackhawks made the playoffs for the eighth straight season, but the St. Louis Blues eliminated them in the first round. The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years, but the salary cap has caught up to them.
Prior to last season the Blackhawks had to trade Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad because of their cap situation and this summer they had to let Andrew Ladd walk and traded both Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen. In order to hold onto the likes of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook the Blackhawks have been forced to make some difficult decisions. The loss of those three forwards opens up room for some prospects to crack the opening day roster.
One prospect who seems destined for a role on the Blackhawks’ roster is Ryan Hartman. The 22-year-old winger was drafted No.30 overall in 2013 and has been compared to Andrew Shaw throughout his years in Rockford (AHL). With Shaw now in Montreal, Hartman seems to be the obvious choice to take over that third-line, agitator role. The American-born winger is expected to be joined by fellow first-round pick Nick Schmaltz, who was elected No.20 overall in 2014. The 20-year-old centre had an impressive 46 points (11G / 35A) in 37 games at the University of North Dakota last year and should make the team this October. That leaves one spot left in Chicago, that will likely be taken by one of Tanner Kero, Vince Hinostroza, Dennis Rasmussen or Mark McNeill.
Those prospects will likely all play bottom-six roles with the top-six pretty much set. Kane will once again find himself on a line with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov. The trio was one of the NHL’s best lines in 2015-16, scoring 54.2 percent of the goals while on the ice together and scoring a total of 39 goals (per Puckalytics.com). The other line will have Toews and Hossa together—a pairing that has been together for many years.
The blueline will have a number of familiar faces with a sprinkling of fresh faces—much like their group of forwards. Keith and Seabrook are back as their top pair with Niklas Hjalmarsson anchoring the second pair. Hjalmarsson will likely play alongside newcomer Brian Campbell, who is no stranger to Chicago. The veteran defenseman has spent the last five seasons in Florida, but previously skated with the Blackhawks from 2009-to-2011. Another newcomer, Michal Kempny, is coming over from the KHL and is expected to crack their blueline. Kempny is a 26-year-old defenseman with two-way abilities. He had 21 points (5G / 16A) in 59 games with Omsk Avangard last year and figures to put up OK numbers in his first year in Chicago.
Between the pipes, Corey Crawford returns as the Blackhawks’ No.1 with Scott Darling taking care of the backup duties. Crawford has been one of the more consistent netminders over the years, making him one of the more trustworthy fantasy options. Crawford has been their starter since 2010-11 and has won at least 30 games in each of the 82-game seasons since. Despite a down year in 2011-12, Crawford has posted an impressive 2.34 GAA and .918 SV% in 309 starts over that six-year stretch.
Overall, the Blackhawks don’t look as deep as they normally do, but they have been a well-oiled machine since Joel Quenneville has taken over as the head coach and there is no reason to expect them to struggle in 2016-17.
Blackhawks in the DFO Top 275:
- 4. Patrick Kane – RW
- 39. Artemi Panarin – LW
- 41. Jonathan Toews – C
- 45. Corey Crawford – G
- 95. Duncan Keith – D
- 159. Brent Seabrook – D
- 183. Marian Hossa – RW
- 198. Artem Anisimov – C
- 256. Scott Darling – G
- 274. Brian Campbell – D
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Blackhawks find themselves in a very difficult Central Division, but remain near the top of that division. Look for Kane, Toews, Panarin and the rest of their skilled players to carry them to the playoffs for the ninth straight campaign.
- Chicago Blackhawks