Chicago Blackhawks Details
There’s no sugarcoating that the 2016-17 season ended in utter disappointment for Joel Quenneville’s Chicago Blackhawks. After a stellar season in the Western Conference’s Central Division – finishing with 109 points and 50 wins – the Blackhawks were swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the division rival Nashville Predators. Chicago was nearly lifeless in the four playoff games, scoring just three goals in the entire series. Everything that went right during the regular season went wrong in the postseason and it led to the team’s second straight first round exit after winning the Stanley Cup in 2014-15. The feeling from the organization was one of shock and anger and shakeups in the roster and staff came quickly. Star winger Artemi Panarin was dealt in a blockbuster trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Blackhawk Brandon Saad. Despite 31 goals and 43 assists during the season, Chicago flipped the young Russian for Saad in order to help out a Jonathan Toews line that has struggled over the past couple of season.
Backup goaltender Scott Darling – arguably the best backup in the league – was dealt to Carolina after a very solid season working in tandem with starter Corey Crawford, meaning that a new face will be between the pipes during Crawford’s nights off. Crawford was wonderful in the regular season despite some injury issues. He finished the year 32-18-4 with a 2.55 goals against average. Returning for the 2017-18 are the usual suspects including Patrick Kane, Toews, Duncan Keith, and Artem Anisimov. The worst offseason news for this team has come in the form of the loss of Marian Hossa for the season due to skin disorder. His leadership and goal-scoring ability will be missed as Chicago tries to find its way back into the playoffs and out of the first round.