Hello, Chicago Blackhawks fans. Over the course of the summer, I feel I’ve been incredibly negative in my pieces, and unfortunately this post will be rife with skepticism as well.
There have been reasons for Chicago Blackhawks fans, like myself, to feel a bit negative about the 2017-18 season. A roster shakeup has resulted in a group that looks to be among the lower end of Blackhawks teams in the Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane era.
But fear not, as I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, however, these are three Blackhawks you should worry about this upcoming season.
This will be the smallest name on this list of three, but how his season goes may have the largest effect on the outcome of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2017-18 campaign.
Nick Schmaltz struggled with consistency issues for just about the entirety of the 2016-17 campaign. He saw negative stretches that resulted in him being sent down to Rockford, but he also had a pretty insane February and March that was overshadowed by captain Toews’ strong resurgence. If the Blackhawks want to be successful in 2017-18, they need need need the version of Schmaltz we saw in February-March.
I’m not sure Schmaltz has solved his consistency issues yet, but his potential as a scorer is through the roof. And if he can play the way I know he can, the ‘Hawks will not be short on scoring.
I don’t think I have to convince anyone that the ‘Hawks’ biggest team issue for this upcoming season is the blue line.
osing Niklas Hjalmarrson, Johnny Oduya, Brian Campbell and even Trevor van Riemsdyk and getting measly reinforcements like Connor Murphy is a tough draw. It’s pretty widely accepted that Brent Seabrook‘s contract is brutal, and what makes it worse is that he has visibly slowed down these past few years.
Seabrook needs to find his old (or should I say young?) legs again and find a way to make the blue line somewhat competitive, or the Blackhawks going to be in for a long season with peppered goaltenders and a filled up net.
It doesn’t help that the team’s best defensive forward is out for the season in Marian Hossa either.
Now I may have been exaggerating when I said Schmaltz’s upcoming season is the most important for the Blackhawks, because we all know it’s actually that of Toews.
I have been hard on him this summer and I’m going to be hard on him again, mainly because I know he is better than the last two seasons have shown. With that being said, if Toews has a third subpar season in a row, I think we will be forced to accept that the player he is now is the player he is going to remain.
There is reason for optimism with Mr. Toews, as he is back with the linemate whom he found the most success with in Brandon Saad, and he showed flashes of his old self again last season. Couple those two things together and it looks like a recipe for resurgence.