We are just a little over a month until training camp, and with the season just around the corner here’s a list of 5 Chicago Blackhawks that will need to raise their games to another gear so that more banners can be raised in the United Center.
5. Andrew Shaw
Most people would say Shaw had a breakout season last year in his rookie campaign. 12 goals and 11 assists were a great start to a career, but his season was up and down with only a suspension to show for his efforts in the playoffs. Shaw can really breakout this season by working his way on to the power play and being more consistent. Having a guy with grits and guts like Shaw while continuing to improve offensively is the kind of season that will truly benefit the Hawks next season. Could you imagine the Twitter accounts that would be created if Shaw had a 25-30 goal campaign with playoff success?
4. Dave Bolland
I’m sure most people were expecting a Marcus Kruger mention here, but I believe its Bolland that needs to have a career season. He’s battled injuries and being stuck on the third line which seems to lead to lackadaisical play during the regular season which leads to games of lots of penalties and not a lot of production. Bolland has all the tools to be the 2nd line center but has never seized the opportunities out there for him. There always seems to be a mention of the mythical 57 goal season he had in juniors, and on occasion he flashes that offensive ability but he’s never scored more than 19 goals wearing the Blackhawks jersey. He scores on the power play and has the ability to put it in the back of the net shorthanded. This is the season Bolland needs to put it all together and breakout as a true Blackhawk superstar. He always brings it when the Sedin’s are on the other side of the ice, but it’s time for Bolland to have that intensity for 82 game season.
3. The entire Blackhawks Defensive Unit-
This unit as a whole was a disappointment for most of the season, and they were most likely a direct result in the sophomore slump of Corey Crawford when they left him high and dry to0 many times early on in the season routinely giving up 3 on 2, 2 on 1, and breakaways. They tightened up at the end of the season, so it will be interesting what the addition of Sheldon Brookbank will have on the unit as a whole. Nick Leddy could be the true breakout star of this group. Will Niklas Hjalmarsson be on this unit when the season starts or will the longest rumored player to be traded be finally moved?
2. Brandon Saad
What a guy that has played 2 regular season games and 2 playoff games is the 2nd breakout player on the list? Saad needs to be the breakout rookie of the NHL season this coming season, and this would be a major feather in the cap for Stan Bowman. Getting Saad as the steal of the draft last season, and getting him to buy into a year in juniors before getting his shot with the Hawks would be a perfect scenario for Bowman. By all indications, unless Saad falls on his face in training camp and preseason he will be a guy that starts the season on one of the top two lines with all the opportunity to become the newest sensation in Blackhawks hockey. His personal success should translate to team success and hopefully a deep run in the playoffs!
After a solid rookie season, Crawford had a pretty poor sophomore campaign that had people asking for Ray Emery to lead the team into the playoffs. Crawford allowed two terrible OT goals to the Phoenix Coyotes which led to the demise of the Blackhawks short lived playoff life. Sophomore slumps are a mystery so I presume that the hardest working player on the Hawks roster this summer was Crawford. He’s had a summer of people doubting him and there’s been Roberto Luongo rumors out there also. Crawford or any other goalie that plays for the Hawks doesn’t have to play like Jonathan Quick, but they have to be solid enough to stop everything that shouldn’t find the back of the net. I don’t believe there is any other goalie in the Hawks system ready to lead the team to the Stanley Cup, so that’s why its time for Crawford to breakout and be the star that he needs to become!
What do you think? Who’s your five Hawks that need to breakout for another Stanley Cup run? September and training camp is right around the corner..Let’s get the Zamboni on the ice!
Let’s Go Hawks!!