As the Blackhawks enter the 2019-2020 season, they will need every roster player to play at their best. A breakout season by these five players can help carry the Blackhawks to the playoffs.
20 Goals, 37 Assists in 78 Games
When the Blackhawks acquired Dylan Strome in a trade with Arizona, the Blackhawks got the player that was hyped up to be the #3 pick back in 2015.
After having a couple of poor seasons in Arizona, Strome took off with the Blackhawks and found a new home in Chicago.
Strome had 51 points in 57 games with the Blackhawks last year, while mostly playing on the second line and being a mainstay on the top power-play unit.
Although Strome will never be that electrifying #1 center, Strome brings excellent hockey IQ with strong hands to boot.
Strome isn’t very fast, but his hockey brain makes up for that, as he knows where to be on the ice to find a scoring chance.
Strome and Alex DeBrincat have excellent chemistry and I expect that to continue next season. Look for Strome to get 65 points in a contract year while centering the Blackhawks second line.
13 Goals, 24 Assists in 82 Games
No one knew what to expect of Dominik Kahun when the Blackhawks signed him in the summer of 2018. Kahun came off an excellent year in the German league and had a great showing in the Olympic games for Team Germany.
Kahun faired quite well for the Blackhawks being one of their most consistent players all year-long. He is a very versatile player who bounced all around the lineup all season long.
Kahun was used on the first line with Jonathan Toews, used with DeBrincat and Strome, and with Anisimov on the third line.
Dominik Kahun brings excellent quickness and hands that complement his game. Kahun was often seen trying to make the best possible play and forcing too many passes to his teammate.
Look for Kahun to be more aggressive next season and try to push for 20 goals. I would expect Kahun to be paired up with new signing Dominik Kubalik.
Kahun and Kubalik played together in the OHL back in the day and have excellent chemistry with each other.
14 Goals, 7 Assists in 68 Games
Brendan Perlini will often be looked on as the “second piece” in the Dylan Strome trade. Although his numbers weren’t great last season, he has potential to turn it around.
Perlini has the size, skating, and skills, to be a top 6 scorer in the NHL. Unfortunately, his consistency is his downfall.
Perlini was too inconsistent with the Blackhawks last year and was often scratched for his play in the defensive zone.
It took Perlini time to find his way for the Blackhawks, but finally in March, he showed promise. He had a streak in March where he was unstoppable. Perlini scored 8 goals in 7 games and was one of the hottest scorers in the NHL at that time.
This is the player the Blackhawks traded for in Perlini. His skating and size are too impressive to ignore and he is set for a huge breakout year for the Blackhawks.
Perlini is currently a restricted free agent but look for the Blackhawks to sign him to a cheap bridge deal in the coming weeks.
12 Goals, 11 assists in 55 games
Drake Caggiula was definitely a sneaky pickup last year for General Manager, Stan Bowman. Caggiula brings a certain grit and tenacity that the Blackhawks desperately lack, and made his presence known with the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks were at their best when they set a line of Caggiula-Toews-Kane. Caggiula did a fantastic job of opening up space for Toews and Kane in the offensive zone and was a perfect fit for that group.
Caggiula is reminiscent of former Blackhawk, Andrew Shaw, as he won’t back down from anyone despite his size. Although Caggiula is known as a more gritty player, he also has underrated skills.
Not only did he open space for Kane and Toews, but Caggiula was able to work the puck and be able to finish passes off of their passes.
Caggiula can play anywhere in the lineup and I expect him to be a big contributor next season.
NHL: 12 Assists in 38 Games
AHL: 2 Goals, 15 Assists in 30 Games
Henri Jokiharju started the 2018-2019 season with the Blackhawks and looked like a sure-fire top 4 defenseman right away. He started on the top pairing with Duncan Keith and was logging about 20 minutes a night.
Jokiharju would eventually fall out-of-place when Jeremy Colliton took over and was sent to Rockford in the AHL. Jokiharju was playing significant minutes for Rockford and helped them push for a playoff spot.
Jokiharju is an excellent skater and can log big minutes. He won’t beat you physically, but he can beat you with his skating and good stick position.
The Blackhawks hope Jokiharju has a big summer as they desperately need him to be ready to start as a top 4 defenseman.
I would expect Jokiharju to do so and step in right away next year and contribute to the Blackhawks offensively and defensively.