Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014-15 Outlook: Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks
Head Coach: Joel Quenneville (7th season with CHI)
Arena: United Center (Capacity: 19,717)
2013-14 Record: 46-21-15 (3rd in Central Division)
Record vs MIN in 2013-14: 2-3-0
2013-14 Corsi For percentage: 54.21% (4th in NHL)
Top Scorer: Patrick Sharp (78 points, 2.29 P/60)
Top Goaltender: Corey Crawford (32-16-10, 2.26 GAA, .917 SV%)

2013-14 Recap: After winning the Cup in 2012-13, the Blackhawks gave a valiant effort to make it two in a row in 2013-14. In the tough Central Division, the Hawks hung around with Colorado and St. Louis all season before finishing behind them atop the standings. To open the postseason Chicago faced St. Louis and won the series in six games, despite falling down 2-0 after game two. In the second round Minnesota gave them all they could handle before winning that series and moving on to a showdown with the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Final. In one of the best Conference Final series in recent memory, the Hawks and Kings went toe to toe in a seven game series before an Alec Martinez overtime goal ended the Blackhawks run at a repeat for the first time since Detroit did it in 1997 and 1998.

Possession Numbers:

Courtesy of Progressive Hockey

Player Deployment:

Courtesy of War On Ice

Offseason Additions-C Brad Richards: It seems almost criminal that Chicago got to sign Brad Richards for just two million dollars. But after being bought out by New York, Richards got to pick where he played this season, and when Chicago came calling it was an offer he could not refuse. With Richards, the Hawks now get a solid second line center to go behind Jonathan Toews. Richards figures to get a good chunk of time playing alongside Patrick Kane, so he could see a nice increase in production for the season.

Offseason Losses-C Brandon Bollig, C Michal Handzus: In a draft day trade, the Blackhawks sent Bollig to the Flames for a third round pick. Bollig had been in a diminishing role with the Hawks, so moving him was almost a no brainer this summer. Handzus was also in a small role with the Blackhawks and is still a UFA. Not major losses for Chicago by any means.

Top Prospects: When talking about Blackhawks prospects, the first name that comes to mind is Teuvo Teravainen. He burst onto the scene at the World Junior Tournament this past year when he scored two goals and 13 assists (!!) to lead Finland to the gold medal. The Hawks signing of Richards will allow them take their time (for another year at least) with Teuvo, but lookout for him when he gets a chance to play with Chicago this year. Adam Clendening also figures to get a look with the Hawks this year as he will more than likely be a call-up in the event of an injury to their blueline.

Projected Lines:

Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Brandon Saad-Brad Richards-Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell-Andrew Shaw-Jeremy Morin
Peter Regin-Marcus Kruger-Ben Smith

Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy-Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford
Antti Raanta

(Projected lines courtesy of

Scouting Report: With Richards now in the fold, its possible that Chicago got that much better. They have been one of the most dominant teams in the league for the past five seasons, and will no doubt continue at that pace in 2014-15. They have forwards who can play well at both ends of the ice. Their defense is very smart, but the third pairing could be a weakness for this club. And if that third pair should make a mistake, thy have one of the better goaltenders in the league behind them in Corey Crawford. With Kane and Toews new contracts set to kick in next season (a $10.5M cap hit for eeach of them), the Blackhawks are all in for the 2014-15 season. Because in all liklihood they will have to part with a key player or two next summer so that they can remain under the salary cap (Chicago has $65.7M committed to 15 players next season, per capgeek). If the Hawks were to go on and win their third Cup in six seasons, would they be considered a dynasty?

Find out where Chicago finishes on Saturday.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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