Chicago Blackhawks Are Not Serious Contenders In 2017-18
By Sean Fitzgerald
For everyone looking to be positive about the 2017-18 Chicago Blackhawks, I have some bad news — this team is not a true Stanley Cup contender
The consensus among experts is the Chicago Blackhawks are on the downswing of their current championship window. Some have even said that the team’s Stanley Cup window has closed.
I am hear to tell you that the Blackhawks are not serious contenders for the 2017-18 season. I say that for just this season, though, because the next batch of prospects should be at Rockford this season getting ready for two years from now.
They are going to be a fringe playoff team that might win a playoff series, but they are not going to win the Stanley Cup this season. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.
1. The old adage is not true anymore
When discussing the ’Hawks since the end of the dark days, people default to the old adage. The old adage is that if the ’Hawks still have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, they are contenders.
The old adage fails to point out that Toews is coming off two of his worst scoring seasons in the NHL. The ’Hawks are trying to address the Toews scoring issue by bringing back Brandon Saad.
More from Editorials
- Blackhawks: List Of Things To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving
- Blackhawks: Changes to the coaching staff are a step in the right direction
- Chicago Blackhawks: Reasons for optimism and cause for concern
- Blackhawks: Kick off four game road trip against Kraken
- Recapping the Jeremy Colliton era with the Chicago Blackhawks
It also fails to mention that Kane lost his running mate in Artemi Panarin. Kane and Panarin put up his historic numbers together. Kane had his two highest point totals (106 in 2015-16 and 89 in 2016-17) in the NHL with Panarin on his other wing. While many believe Kane will be fine with anyone on his wing, his offensive numbers could dip this year.
Lastly, it leaves out the fact that Keith has played in 913 games averaging 25:21 in ice time during the regular season. His regular-season numbers are in addition to his average ice time of 28:11 in 122 career playoff games. Did I mention Keith is over the age of 30 and has had knee surgery?
It’s an easy to say the ’Hawks are contenders because of Kane, Toews and Keith, but it is getting harder to justify the claim.
2. Lack of puck possession
The Blackhawks’ puck possession has been trending downward since the middle of the 2014-15 season. The ’Hawks’ offense used to wear teams down in the offensive zone because of its puck possession. Now the team appears to be continuing in the wrong direction.
The Blackhawks lost Brian Campbell, who for his career was a 53.5 percent Corsi-for player. He did have down year last season but he still can play in the NHL. He would be better than Gustav Forsling, who figures to bring his 48.5 percent Corsi-for mark to full NHL time this season.
At forward, the ’Hawks lost Panarin’s offensive production and his CF% of 54.1 in the NHL. They also lost Marcus Kruger to a cap crunch, and his CF% is 51.9 for his career. Let’s not forget that Marian Hossa, who does so much for the team on both ends of the ice, is out for this season and has historically been strong on the puck.
To compound the problem, the ’Hawks brought in Lance Bouma (43.1 CF%) and Tommy Wingels (49.1%) to play forward this season.
3. Lack of team speed
Team speed is an issue. I won’t go in depth because Blackhawk Up’s Colin Likas already did that. But tet me say this: The ’Hawks lost one of their faster players in Panarin and replaced him with a player not as fast.
The hallmarks of the Blackhawks’ championship teams were speed and puck possession. This team is lacking in both departments.
Next: Blackhawks Need A Wall Of Fame
Those were my three reasons why the ’Hawks will not contend for the Stanley Cup this season. Do you agree?