Apr 6, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Marko Dano (56) and New York Rangers defensemanDan Girardi
(5) battle for a loose puck during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
No. 3: Young Guns Bring New Energy
Since their rise to dominance began, the Blackhawks have long been applauded for their ability to keep the majority of their roster intact with each passing year. While this is still true for 2015-16, the Blackhawks were not a team without change.
It started in the waning days of June, when the ‘Hawks traded pending restricted free agent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets. While initially the trade came as a shock to many, the return for the former first-liner was solid, and the Blackhawks were able to fill several holes.
The first name that jumps out to an observer is Artem Anisimov. Anisimov has become a proven second-line center in his time with the Jackets and New York Rangers, though he is prone to injury. While he is not a spring chicken, so to speak, Anisimov and the five-year contract he was signed to following his acquisition makes him a long-term answer at the Blackhawks’ second pivot position, behind Jonathan Toews.
The most interesting player involved in the trade was Marko Dano. Dano is a former first-round pick with lots of potential that hasn’t been uncovered yet in the two years since he was drafted by Columbus 27th overall. His speed fits in with that of the Blackhawks’ best, and he is sure to adapt to their skilled game quickly and become a generous contributor in the process.
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The Blackhawks didn’t wait until June to prepare for this season, however, signing free agent Artemi Panarin in late spring. Panarin paced the entire KHL in playoff scoring this past season and even outscored teammate and former NHL superstar Ilya Kovalchuk in the regular season. Panarin will be an exciting player to watch from the moment he first hits the ice in Chicago, and if the experiment pays off, the Blackhawks may have found a diamond in the rough.
The Blackhawks’ new blood, coupled with the emergence of homegrown talent such as Teuvo Teravainen, Ryan Hartman, Mark McNeill and other prospects, will make Blackhawks’ training camp and preseason a time for huge competition, with only the best landing a spot on the ‘Hawks roster. These young players will reinvigorate a Blackhawks’ offense that is sure to shine once again in 2015-16.
Next: Reason No. 2
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