Let’s start with the core, shall we?
After all, these are the guys the team is built around. They are the ones who know how to win; most of them have won three Stanley Cups. But they’re also the one’s who can partially be blamed.
Success comes at a price. These players all have earned large contracts and no-movement clauses. As a result, it gets harder and harder each year to build a successful team around them.
Jonathan Toews. So we have our fearless captain, who has had subpar seasons, at best, for the last two years. He’s claims he’s going to restructure his training this summer to account for more speed and less “heavy” play. Could this do the trick? Sure, it might help. But what Toews really needs is a left winger that can complement his play.
Richard Panik was an admirable right wing companion for most of the season. And the ’Hawks thought they had something on the left side with Nick Schmaltz. But that fizzled out come playoff time.
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Apparently they’re not going to tell us, but I still believe Toews wasn’t completely healthy during the playoffs. We have nothing to worry about with Toews. He’ll come back ready to go next year. Put the right parts around him, and they’ll be all set.
Hey, I wonder if Toews would take a pay cut to get Brandon Saad back.
Patrick Kane. Nothing wrong here, right? It was Kane’s line, along with Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin, that the Preds worked hardest to shut down in this past series.
Well, for the most part it worked, except for a lone powerplay goal. But I attribute this more to Kane’s linemates than I do to him (more on this later). Kane created numerous chances with what he had to work with. Given more time, I believe he would have broken through. Now, let’s just hope he stays out of trouble this summer and comes to training camp ready to rock and roll.
Marian Hossa. Hossa told the media at his exit interview that he feels great and is expecting to come back next season. He showed with a strong season this year that he’s still got it. I don’t see any reason to doubt him.
Besides, it will be a sad, sad day when we can’t regularly watch Hossa do what he does on the ice. Call me sentimental, but I’m up for prolonging this as long as possible.
If Hossa did retire, the ’Hawks would still have to pay a cap recapture penalty on him; so there’s no real savings here. And there’s so many options with Hossa! Yes, he’s mainly slotted on the third line for now, but he still has the ability to play on the first and second lines. Plus, he serves as such an incredible role model for everyone he plays with. I just see no downside.