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Chicago Blackhawks 2017-18 Regular Season Expectations: Newcomers

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COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16: Brandon Saad
COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16: Brandon Saad /
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ANAHEIM, CA – APRIL 15: Lance Bouma /

Lance Bouma

Expectation: He’ll exceed 10 points.

This might seem like a really low bar to clear, but the last two regular seasons have seen Bouma post all of 14 points across 105 games — seven in each campaign. It’s not that he’s out there piling up penalty minutes (66 in the same timespan) or that he’s not skating much (average time on ice over 11:20 each of the last two seasons). He just isn’t producing a whole lot.

But there’s precedent to suggest he’s capable of more. Bouma potted 15 points in 78 games during the 2013-14 season, then carded 34 points in 78 more games the following year. So he has the potential.

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If my belief is accurate that general manager Stan Bowman is piling up lower-tier players to try and prevent the Blackhawks from having to call up youngsters too quickly, then Q will be giving Bouma every chance to produce points in 2017-18. While linemates will obviously play a role in his production, I’ll put some faith in Bouma.

Expectation analysis: He’ll exceed 10 points.

Alex DeBrincat

Expectation: He’ll play at least half of the NHL regular season.

He’s my one exception to the “on the roster” rule, and it’s because there’s so much hype around DeBrincat. While he didn’t have the strongest of prospect camps, it’s clear DeBrincat has major potential and is strongly valued by the Blackhawks.

Now, will they push him to the moon right off the bat? Well, it’ll depend on a couple things. First will be how DeBrincat looks in training camp. His performance against more NHL-ready athletes will go a long way to deciding with which team he starts the season.

Second will be how much concern Bowman and Q have over the state of the roster. Perhaps training camp will tell them they can survive with the roster they have. Or it may tell them the team will be ahead of just Colorado in the standings after a couple months. If they think DeBrincat is a necessity, they’ll push him.

I’m going to stick with my theory that the Blackhawks do not want to rush DeBrincat if they don’t have to. Perhaps he’s a post-trade deadline call-up.

Expectation analysis: He won’t play at least 41 NHL regular-season games.

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