2008/09 46-24-12 (2nd in Central, 4th in West)
Arrivals: Marian Hossa (RW, Detroit), John Madden (NJ), Tomas Kopecky (DET), Richard Petioit (TB)
Departures: Nikolai Khabibulin (EDM), LW Martin Havlat (MIN), Samuel Pahlsson (CBJ), Matt Walker (TB)
It’s easy to love this young up and coming hockey team and they are a sexy pick to improve after last year but they still play in a division with the uber-dynasty known as the Detroit Red Wings. The Blackhawks have made serious strides towards improvement this year but we still need to remember that this is a very young team with captain Jonathan Toews at the tender age of 21 and Patrick Kane showing his immaturity with his offseason shenanigans. This team will be exciting to watch no doubt with a very solid defensive core and with the addition of Marian Hossa there will be no shortage of goal scoring. The major issue with the Blackhawks will be how they will prevent other teams from lighting the lamp against them. Cristobal Huet has shown flahes of being a dependable #1 but has never been consistent enough to show me that he can take the Hawks deep into the playoffs. The other question mark is to see how Patrick Kane rebounds from his off season issues and if it affects his play at all. I can’t really see it being an issue but stranger things have happened. At the end of this season Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith are set to become restricted free agents and with $7.14 mil tied up in Brian Campbell’s contract and a 12 year Marian Hossa deal there will potentially be some serious changes next year so this could be the year that the Hawks make a big time run before they risk losing one of their stars to the free agent market.
FANTASY HOCKEY FORWARDS
Jonathan Toews: (C) The young captain is poised for a breakout season after posting 69 points last season. He’ll certainly be playing top line PP and will be logging plenty of minutes, with the addition of Marian Hossa it means that this young star should improve significantly on his numbers from last season and push the point per game mark that one would hope out of a 3rd year star.
Patrick Kane: (RW)Drafted in the same year as Toews this should be a coming out party where these 2 players explode into fantasy stardom. Similar to Toews, Kane had 70 points last season and will be looking at an increase in that category. Playing more of a set up/playmaker position, Kane should push 50 assists and 30 goals this season as he enters his third year and will be asked to take on more of a role in the PP. Just have to hope that he hasn’t decided to become a fighter in the offseason as that might explain what was going through his mind while pummelling that cab driver.
Patrick Sharp: (C,LW) A pure goal scorer Patrick Sharp may fly under the radar a bit this year after being hurt last year and not getting the PP time that you would expect out of him. If he’s put on the power play with the likes of Kane and Toews he’s sure to surpass last year’s totals and probably put up somewhere around 30 goals and 25-30 assists. It all depends on how he’s used with the acquisition of Hossa his role may be lessened slightly but with the talent he has he will still put up serviceable fantasy numbers and can be had at a reasonable draft price.
Marian Hossa: (RW) Seems like he will put up a point per game or so with 35+ goals especially if he plays a lot on the PP. He doesn’t necessarily need the supporting cast but now that he has it he will definitely be the most dangerous threat on the team as far as goal scoring is concerned. A major concern with Hossa will be how losing 2 straight Stanley cups with 2 different teams will take it’s toll on his confidence. Hopefully he comes out this year and has something to prove and wants to show that he can lead yet another team to a Stanley Cup loss. Also note that he is hurt and may not be ready to start the season, his draft position will slip as a result but he will be a good bargain if you can get him in the 3rd or 4th round.
FANTASY WORHTH DEFENCEMEN
Brian Campbell: Brian Campbell got the massive contract he sought after putting up 62 points 2 seasons ago and after a fairly disappointing season last year with 52 points he’ll look to bounce back and show why he was given the money he was. He is still one of the smoothest skating defensemen and 52 points is nothing to shake a stick at but considering draft position and expectations we’d hope to see 60+ points from him especially in a run and gun offense that Chicago possesses. This year Campbell should try and get back to what he does best and not try to do too much, there’s plenty of talent around him and if he can do that he’ll get back to the elite in fantasy defensemen with 65 points. He’s not worth an early round reach but is worth a mid round chance.
Duncan Keith: After improving every season since joining the NHL Duncan Keith posted a career best 44 points in 2008/09 and 60 PIMs. You can safely bet that he’ll put up similar numbers this year and could potentially improve as he looked great in the playoffs last year and he is a very good puck moving d-man.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Cristobal Huet: There’s basically no backup as of right now in Chicago so we can safely expect that Huet will see the bulk of the starts and will get his fair share of wins. He probably won’t be putting up stellar numbers as far as GAA and SV % but you can expect similar totals as last year. This team depends on it’s ability to score more than their opponents as opposed to keeping their opponents from scoring.
Keep an eye on: Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Barker, Kris Versteeg, These players are all young and with any injury incurred to top players any one of these guys could step in and become a viable replacement. Keep a close watch on Byfuglien and Versteeg as both have shown that with a good amount of PP time they can put up some serious numbers.