Chicago Blackhawks: News of a Potential New Division
By Jeremiah Lee
The NHL Divisions are being to take shape for next season and things look interesting for the Chicago Blackhawks.
This evening, I understood that my finals would be next week, which obviously did not excite me one bit. What made the evening interesting is that the new NHL divisions were starting to become finalized for the NHL.
The Chicago Blackhawks will reportedly be in a division with: The Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning. (via Pierre LeBrun)
Honestly, this division is much weaker than it was before with only Tampa Bay being the lone top-team in the division compared to relying on the wildcard slot, playing against St. Louis, Colorado, and Dallas last year. The Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators didn’t put up much of a fight, nor did they make noise in the early free agency period. So I won’t talk too much about them.
Essentially, all of these teams except Tampa Bay and maybe Columbus will be question marks going into the season. Each has their own glaring issues and could halt them from a potential playoff berth.
Though the Chicago Blackhawks are not the best team in this division, I could still see a situation where they get into the playoffs. But, though this is, on paper, the weakest division they still may not have the pieces necessary to qualify. It will be fun to play Detroit next season, but it won’t feel the same as it did since they left the conference after 2013.
As for seeding, there are so many question marks I really won’t know until the season starts, but roster-wise and how they performed in the playoffs (or if they made it at all).
This will be my VERY EARLY prediction.
- Tampa Bay (No question. This team is still stacked)
- Columbus (Lost to Tampa, but made them earn it)
- Carolina (Lost to Boston, but also made them earn their series win)
- Chicago (Upset the Oilers, but lost Corey Crawford. This is my optimistic ranking)
- Florida (if Sergei Bobrovsky decides to show up and earn his contract, they’ll rank higher)
- Nashville (Added Mark Boroweicki and Nick Cousins)
- Minnesota (Added nothing significant, finished second-last in the division. Did not play well in the play-in series)
- Detroit (It’s Detroit. A revamped Detroit, yes, but I have to see them play before I come to any conclusions)
If everything goes right for the Blackhawks and does not go right for Florida or Carolina, we may see the ‘Hawks in the playoffs. If the playoff format is the same, the Blackhawks will need the third seed. The wildcard position chase includes, (if the ‘Hawks DON’T get the third seed AND my predictions are true) the Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, and Arizona Coyotes, maybe the Nashville Predators too. I don’t know about you, but I prefer a seven-game series against Carolina or Columbus; instead of the Lightning or Colorado (or Vegas… or St. Louis. That division’s a real toss-up).
In a season full of question marks, this is still a win for the Chicago Blackhawks. With only one favorite in the division, the ‘Hawks can deploy their younger players against weaker competition. With a shorter season, a fast start is everything. A slow start will make or break the season for either team. We could either see the ‘Hawks use this favorable situation and make the playoffs for real this time or become eligible for the draft lottery. Again.