With Chicago Blackhawks training camp right around the corner, what will fans be hoping to see and asking about heading into the regular season?
Chicago Blackhawks training camp is drawing near, and that means hockey is almost back. After a long and sometimes painful offseason, the Blackhawks will finally be returning to the ice when training camp opens, and we will get our first look at the 2017-18 roster.
The team has several returning faces, some new additions and a number of eager youngsters hoping to make an impression. With all of this to look forward to, what are we most curious about heading into Blackhawks camp? Well, here are 10 burning questions we hope to get some answers to over the coming weeks.
Who will step up on the penalty kill?
Marcus Kruger’s trade to the Vegas Golden Knights for the coveted return of future considerations was one of the major losses of this offseason. While Kruger’s contract was too steep for the Blackhawks to keep around, Kruger was one of the most reliable penalty killers in the entire league.
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Kruger saw first-line penalty kill time throughout his time in Chicago and averaged above 70 percent defensive-zone starts over the last four years (capping with 81.3 percent starts in the defensive zone in 2015-16). A defensive center relied on like Kruger will not be easy to replace, and the Blackhawks’ penalty kill could certainly suffer for it.
Who will step in to take the place of the ‘Hawks’ best penalty killer last year on a team that was only able to manage a 77.7 percent penalty kill? The Blackhawks will need several players to step up on special teams if the team is going to find success in 2017-18, and the biggest gap will be the loss of Kruger. Whether it be Tanner Kero or another center option, the loss of Kruger could be a major hurdle for the ‘Hawks this coming season.
Can Anton Forsberg step up?
The Blackhawks will absolutely be hoping for a strong year from Corey Crawford once again in 2017-18, but the fact is that Crawford will definitely need some nights off for rest and maintenance.
With Scott Darling heading South to Carolina to become a No. 1 goaltender, Anton Forsberg (acquired in the Brandon Saad/Artemi Panarin trade) will be the next backup goaltender the Blackhawks hope they can rely on.
Following on a list of backups that includes Darling, Antti Raanta and Ray Emery, Forsberg has some big skates to fill. And with only one NHL win to his name, Forsberg is a big question mark heading into the 2017-18 season.
‘Hawks fans can certainly be interested in how Forsberg performs in Blackhawks camp and if he will be a reliable backup to fill in for Crawford when needed. Knowing that most No. 1 goaltenders can only really start somewhere around 60 games in a full NHL season, the Blackhawks will be depending on another goalie for 20 games or more next season. Will Forsberg be that next man up and a strong option for coach Joel Quenneville? We will have to wait and see.