Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: Three Veterans Who Need To Step Up

By Mike Brennan
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (center) is congratulated for scoring a goal by right wing Marian Hossa (left) and center Marcus Kruger (right) during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (center) is congratulated for scoring a goal by right wing Marian Hossa (left) and center Marcus Kruger (right) during the first period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Age can be an important number for the 2016-17 Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are going to be in a tough spot this upcoming season. They are in the awkward phase in which players are starting to get too old, and some of their best rookies are not 100 percent ready for the NHL.

Veterans on this team need to step up if the ‘Hawks hope to make another deep run in the playoffs. But who will? Here are the three Blackhawks veterans who need to have a good season, or else there will be some glaring holes in the ‘Hawks’ lineup.

Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period in game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period in game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Marian Hossa (37 Years Old; 19 Seasons)

This is a pretty obvious choice for this post. Hossa is getting paid the big bucks, but is definitely closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Like I said in my post about the 2016-17 lines, Hossa would be a very good fit on the third line.

More from Editorials

He can play along Marcus Kruger, which worked pretty well during the playoffs last season against the Blues. While this would be the best option in my eyes, I have a feeling coach Joel Quenneville will opt to put Hossa on the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.

The reason why Hossa needs to have a good season this year mainly comes down to depth of the forwards. Hossa’s production has been going down steadily each season since about 2013.

Let’s say that Hossa has a 2016-17 season that is worse than last year (13 goals, 20 assists). That would mean Hossa would need to be moved down in lines, and Q would need to find a replacement. The problem is that there is no one who is a really good fit besides Hossa.

As a top-line forward making $5.27 million next season, he needs to pick up his production a little bit. Another reason why he needs to have a good season is the other side of the top line: Richard Panik. At this point, this kid is a wild card.

Panik could go out there and put up 20 goals and 20 assists, but he could also go out there and put up single digits in each of those two categories. Hossa needs to be the constant on the other side of Toews to counteract the unpredictability of Panik.

chicago blackhawks
Apr 19, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) celebrates his goal against the St. Louis Blues during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Duncan Keith (33 Years Old; 11 Seasons)

It is kind of depressing to think Keith is really a veteran on this team. It seems like yesterday when he was standing inside of Union Station and no one knew who he was in 2005. But it is 11 years later, and he is kind of old now.

Throughout all of last season he was moved from the top defensive pairing to the second pairing and played with basically every defenseman who came through the squad.

Next season he will be making $5.53 million. That is the kind of money that should only be thrown around to defensemen who lead their teams and carry their defense. Keith did a great job of this last season (nine goals, 34 assists, plus-13) and really needs to do so again next season.

The defense was what ultimately killed the ‘Hawks in the postseason. They just had no answer for the Blues’ offense, which is a shame because that offense was not that good. Anyway, this season the D needs to be better, and that starts with Keith.

He is a workhorse who will eat up plenty of minutes and try and carry this underwhelming defense. The front office tried to make an upgrade with Brian Campbell, but that is probably not enough. Keith needs to be up on the top pairing and present some sort of consistency, much like Hossa on the top line.

Feb 12, 2016; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell (51) skates in the third period of a game against the St. Louis Blues at BB&T Center. The Blues won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 12, 2016; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell (51) skates in the third period of a game against the St. Louis Blues at BB&T Center. The Blues won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports /

Brian Campbell (37 Years Old; 17 Seasons)

Soupy is back on the West side of Chicago! Should ‘Hawks fans be excited? I think that question’s answer is just a big ehhhhhh. He is signed to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. Last season he proved he is still a good defenseman for his age. He had six goals and 25 assists with a plus/minus of 31.

The Florida Panthers had a phenomenal season last year, and Campbell was the main reason for that on the back end. He still posses his crafty skating that can get around forecheckers in his own end and get the puck up to the forwards. This is something he did last season that the ‘Hawks are in desperate need of.

Campbell needs to have as good of a season as last year. It is not that much to ask, considering he has had numbers right around five goals and 25 assists for the past four or five seasons. If he posts those numbers this year, it will certainly be an upgrade from the revolving door that the ‘Hawks had towards the third pairing last season.

Next: Blackhawks' Top 10 Post-Camp Prospects

The only fact that just makes me question this is his age. A 37-year-old defenseman is tough to have on a team. It is even tougher when the team is looking at that 37-year-old to be one of the top-four defensemen.

facebooktwitterreddit