A Look Into The Upcoming 2017-2018 NHL Season For The Chicago Blackhawks

In the 2016-2017 NHL Season, the Chicago Blackhawks once again captured the Central Division but were in shock and disbelief when their playoff run ended abruptly. In the first round of the playoffs, Chicago faced off against the Nashville Predators, who were the lowest seed and the second wild card team. The Predators would sweep the Blackhawks when Chicago would only score three goals in the entire series. After the Blackhawks were knocked out, General Manager Stan Bowman promised there would be changes to the team. From a coaching perspective, longtime assistant coach, Mike Kitchen was fired and Don Granato was hired as an assistant. Here’s a look at some of the notable roster changes by Bowman and what to expect this season.

Notable Departures:

Scott Darling- Goaltender:

Darling had served as the backup goaltender to Corey Crawford for the past three seasons. He’s helped Chicago reach the playoffs each season and won a Stanley Cup in 2015. He’s proved to be a reliable backup having replaced Crawford for the first round series of the playoffs in 2015 and taking over as the starting goaltender while Crawford was out with injury. Last season, he appeared in 32 games and finished with a record of 18-5-5, goals against average of 2.38, and save percentage of .924.

Artemi Panarin- Left Winger:

Panarin signed with the Blackhawks in April of 2015 after a few years in the KHL. He would have an immediate impact with the Blackhawks, playing on the team’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. Panarin has recorded two 70-point seasons, captured the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2016 and helped Patrick Kane capture the Art Ross Trophy the same year as well. Panarin was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the off season.

Niklas Hjalmarsson- Defenseman:

Hjalmarsson had been a member of the Blackhawks since 2009 and has won three Stanley Cups with the team. He’s a defensive defenseman who served as a top four defender the past few seasons. Last season he recorded 5 goals and 13 assists in 73 games. Hjalmarsson was traded to the Arizona Coyotes.

Marcus Kruger- Center:

Kruger has made a name for himself for being a reliable fourth line, two-way center. He won two Stanley Cups with Chicago in his time with the team. Last season, he registered 5 goals and 12 assists in 70 games. Kruger was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Marian Hossa- Right Winger:

Hossa is not leaving the organization but he won’t be playing in any games this upcoming season. He was diagnosed with a skin disorder and will be undergoing treatment; he is expected to miss the entire upcoming season. Last season, Hossa tallied 26 goals and 19 assists in 45 games.

Notable Newcomers:

Connor Murphy- Defenseman:

Murphy was acquired in the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade to Arizona. Like Hjalmarsson, Murphy is a defensive defenseman. He played top line minutes with the Coyotes last season and is a physical defender. He recorded 2 goals and 15 assists last season in 77 games.

Brandon Saad- Left Winger:

A familiar face for Blackhawks fans, Saad was acquired by the Blackhawks in the Panarin trade. He was traded to Columbus in 2015 and has recorded two 53 point seasons with the Blue Jackets. Saad was a member of the 2013 and 2015 Blackhawk Stanley Cup teams.

Patrick Sharp- Left Winger:

Another familiar face, Sharp was a member of the Blackhawks from 2006 to 2015. He won three Stanley Cups with the team and was traded to the Dallas Stars in the 2015 off season. He was injured for a majority of last season, playing in 48 games and tallying 8 goals and 10 assists.

Projected Offensive Lines:

Line 1: Saad-Toews-Panik

Line 2: Sharp-Anisimov-Kane

Line 3: Jurco-Schmaltz-Hartman

Line 4: Bouma-Kero-Wingels

Projected Defensive Lines:

Line 1: Keith-Seabrook

Line 2: Kempny-Murphy

Line 3: Oesterle-Rozsival

Projected Goaltenders:

Starter: Crawford

Backup: Berube

The 2017-2018 Season Story: Will The Blackhawks Still Be A Major Threat In The Central Division?

The Blackhawks finished last season with a record of 50-23-9 and captured the entire Western Conference. With this upcoming season, teams in the division will be more improved. The Dallas Stars have acquired exceptional players to bolster their roster such as Ben Bishop, Alex Radulov, Martin Hanzal, and Marc Methot along with hiring Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. They also will have to compete with the Western Conference Champion Nashville Predators and of course the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild who both have made regular appearances in the playoffs the past few seasons. The Blackhawks acquired some old players from their days of being top contenders for the Stanley Cup; they also signed some new depth players such as Tommy Wingels and Lance Bouma. Both have been a part of playoff teams although they never played a large role with those teams. So with this new roster, will the Blackhawks still pose a threat to the Central Division?


My prediction is that the Blackhawks will still be a playoff team in the Central Division but will be the third seed behind the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. Chicago is still a good team, but they don’t have four complete lines and three complete defensive pairings like they did during their Stanley Cup winning years. The first two offensive pairings are terrific but after that, it seems they don’t have enough fire power to make a significant impact on the scoring sheet. On defense, the Blackhawks have Keith and Seabrook, two of the best defensemen in the NHL; after that, the other defensive pairings are not as impactful as some of the former defensive members of the team. With Coach Q back on the bench, the Blackhawks should be able to reach 45+ wins this season and make the playoffs again.

Junior at Hofstra University majoring in Broadcast Journalism, minoring in Public Affairs and Radio/Television/Film. Research, write and report sporting news on air for WRHU Radio. Edit highlights and engineer Hofstra sports and New York Islander broadcasts. My favorite sports include hockey, football, baseball, soccer and golf. I currently play hockey and golf for fun.

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