Chicago Blackhawks’ 10 Burning Questions Heading Into Training Camp

Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith work out during training camp at Johnny's IceHouse West in Chicago, Illinois on Monday, January 14, 2013. (Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith work out during training camp at Johnny's IceHouse West in Chicago, Illinois on Monday, January 14, 2013. (Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images) /
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DALLAS, TX – JANUARY 4: Patrick Sharp /

How does Patrick Sharp look coming off his hip surgery?

Patrick Sharp returned to the Blackhawks on a very affordable deal that will cap at $1 million if he manages to make all of his bonuses. It is the kind of deal that can pay dividends for a cap-strapped team like the ‘Hawks, but is very cheap for a reason.

Sharp suffered multiple injuries last season, most notably a major concussion and a hip injury that required surgery. While early reports from the team indicate Sharp is already skating and looks good on the ice, we will need to see Sharp playing full speed and against competition to get a full idea of how he is healing.

If Sharp is able to come back from the hip injury and play near the form he was at in his last years with the ‘Hawks before leaving for Dallas, he will be a solid and affordable asset for the team.

But if Sharp is unable to perform and play at a decent level after his injuries and surgery, the ‘Hawks may struggle to find the net regularly in the 2017-18 season. Let’s just say that while a contract coming in at $1 million is worth the risk, we won’t be happy to see any money being given out to Sharp if he can’t keep up on the ice and is taking a roster spot from a young player who could develop in his place. Sharp needs to get healthy and remain healthy throughout the season.

Will Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad return to form?

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We have mentioned many times on Blackhawk Up that Jonathan Toews has not been the same player since Saad left town. While the move to bring Saad back has been generally met with excitement (once the dust settled and the loss of The Breadman reached a grieving stage of acceptance), much of the talk has been that this move is going to make Toews, and therefore the whole team, better.

Toews was just listed as the 12th-best center in hockey by NHL Network, a ranking that could be seen as justified right now, but is far too low for ‘Hawks fans to accept Toews playing at.

If Toews is not able to reignite some energy and excitement on offense with Saad rejoining the team, there is an even bigger question to be asked about Toews’ decline and future with the team.

I fully expect Saad and Toews to work well together (along with Richard Panik on the top line), but what if that chemistry is not quite the same and the pair doesn’t find the magic playing together again? At the risk of trading away one of the most dynamic scorers in the game to reacquire Saad, this line needs to work out for the Blackhawks to be successful.

We will start to see how Toews and Saad look back together throughout training camp and early in the regular season. Hopefully everything goes according to plan.