After two less-than-desirable seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks, Blackhawk Up gives you five reasons to be excited for the 2018-19 campaign (Part I).
Four seasons ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were on top of the world, having just hoisted their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. They were a power house, a force to be reckoned with.
Two seasons ago, the Chicago Blackhawks held not only the best record in the Central Division, but the best record in all of the Western Conference. Hopes were high, but disappointment was higher after being swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. For fans (especially young ones), things couldn’t get much worse. With their roster at the time, the Hawks seemed to be a shoe-in to the playoffs every year, so a first round sweep was devastating.
One season ago, the Blackhawks were expected to be back searching for revenge. They came in with something to prove, a chip on their shoulders, a statement to make. They wanted to show the league the cup window wasn’t closed. This team wasn’t done.
A Corey Crawford head injury derailed the team and sent them spiraling into a last place Central Division finish. It was their worst season since the 2006-07 campaign where they went 31-42-9 and head coach Trent Yawney was fired and replaced by Dennis Savard.
After a year like that, things are looking pretty dark for Blackhawks fans. However, Blackhawk Up will give you five reasons why you should be excited (and optimistic) going into next season.
No. 1: The Year of the DeBrincat
Our first reason comes from our good friends over at FanSided’s Puck Prose who gave one reason each NHL team should be excited for the upcoming year. Dave Stevenson, the author of the article, pointed out that according to the Chinese, 2018 is the “year of the dog.” However, according to the Blackhawks, 2018 is the “year of the cat.”
The Alex DeBrincat, that is.
Last season, everyone was told to “pump the brakes,” on the 2016 second-round draft pick, but DeBrincat felt otherwise. Even though he started the year in a bottom-six forward group playing with veteran Patrick Sharp, DeBrincat still managed to get his points. He managed to play well enough to continue earn himself ice time, and thus, more offensive opportunities.
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Those type of opportunities only continue to pour in for the 20-year old sensation.
Though he finished 10th in Calder Trophy voting last season, its largely due to the fact that his rookie class was as loaded as it gets. Alex totaled 52 points on 29 goals and 23 assists last year. His 29 goals were a team high for the Blackhawks and those 52 points tied for second most on the team. Additionally, Debrincat finished behind only Patrick Kane in five-on-five points per hour with 2.14.
His season last year was undeniably impressive and the kid looks poised to have yet another solid season this year. Furthermore, if DeBrincat stays on a consistent line with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane, his production could continue to rise once again. Plus, without the learning curve he experienced coming straight from the OHL, the ceiling is high for DeBrincat.
As our own Aaron Goldschmidt put it, “It’s truly amazing that a kid who can’t even buy a beer can be considered one of the most lethal goal scorers for the Chicago Blackhawks.”
Click here for a more detailed story on DeBrincat’s possible production next season from Aaron himself.