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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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EDMONTON, AL – APRIL 06: Jordan Oesterle
EDMONTON, AL – APRIL 06: Jordan Oesterle /

Jordan Oesterle

Expectation: He’ll play in at least 27 NHL regular-season games.

Oesterle is currently listed on the main roster on the Blackhawks’ website, so he gets inclusion here. Twenty-seven games is roughly a third of the NHL season, and it would make up more games than the total the 25-year-old has compiled in his NHL career (25).

I’m honestly not sure what to make of Oesterle with the Blackhawks just yet. He was signed as a free agent after posting six points across parts of three seasons with Edmonton. The Oilers don’t exactly have a stellar blue line, so the fact he wasn’t able to break it very often while already surpassing 25 years in age isn’t terribly promising.

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However, the Blackhawks clearly need some help on the blue line, and they’re going to give Oesterle and others every chance to try and grab a third-pairing spot in camp. Marian Hossa cannot go on long-term injured reserve until just before the season starts, so guys need to be prepared for some playing time.

That being said, I think a third of an NHL season is a bit too high a bar for Oesterle at this time.

Expectation analysis: He won’t play in at least 27 NHL regular-season games.

Jan Rutta

Expectation: He’ll play in at least 41 NHL regular-season games.

This is a tricky one, because it involves trying to project for a guy who has never played North American hockey. The 26-year-old Rutta has spent parts of the last four years in the Czech League, maxing out at 46 regular-season games played last season (plus another 17 in the postseason).

For a point of comparison, last year’s overseas signing, Kempny, played in 50 regular-season NHL games during the 2016-17 campaign. And the Blackhawks’ blue line was a bit less of a concern than it will be to start the 2017-18 run.

I think Rutta will be given every chance to earn regular playing time, more under Bowman’s orders than Q’s insistence (unless Rutta is just that good in camp). You don’t bring guys from overseas to have them sit the bench, a frustrating point with Kempny last season.

Expectation analysis: He’ll play in at least 41 NHL regular-season games.

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