Training camp continues, and so do the questions. The Blackhawks are going to have to ice a roster that has some gaping holes.
One of the larger issues is the lack of offense. With Jonathan Toews out and Brandon Saad gone, the team may have issues scoring. If you think Patrick Kane is going to bail out the Chicago Blackhawks this year, think again.
Kane will reliably drive the offense when he’s on the ice, but when he’s on the bench Chicago’s attack may dry up. There are a couple of other goal scorers on the team like Alex DeBrincat and Dominik Kubalik-if the latter can replicate last year’s performance.
Since Kubalik and DeBrincat were on the team last year that still leaves the Blackhawks down all the points those missing players produced. Throw in Kirby Dach, Alex Nylander, and Drake Caggiula and Chicago has a problem. According to Hockey Reference, all of these players combined for:
Toews = 60 points
Saad = 33 points
Dach = 23 points
Nylander = 26 points
Caggiula = 15 points
Total = 157 points
That’s 157 points the remaining team will have to make up somehow. Last season, even if the team was porous defensively, they could score. For 2019-20 the team relied on its offensive firepower to try and outscore their opposition, and it worked to some extent, but it might be hard to replicate this year.
If Chicago is going to take this approach again, who is going to step up and make this happen? The answer is, everyone. The team lost too much talent during the off-season, and the only way to recover ground offensively will be through a team effort.
Adam Boqvist will need to produce more than the 13 points he put up last season. Pius Suter will need to make some noise and show why he was able to lead the Swiss League’s scoring last year. Andrew Shaw will need to be a productive offensive player.
How about new guys Lucas Wallmark or Mattias Janmark? Nope. Not them. They respectively scored 25 and 21 points last year. The offensive absences of Dach, Nylander, and Caggiula won’t be felt. Toews and Saad aren’t so easily replaceable.
After losing several dynamic players, Chicago will need to find a way to keep the offensive pressure up. More than that though, they’ll need to tighten up defensively. It’s not likely they’ll be able to score their way out of trouble this season. Suppressing their opponents’ offense would help alleviate some of the problems they’ll be facing in point production this year. That’s proven difficult the last couple of years, but perhaps (cross your fingers!) Chicago’s new additions defensively will be able to step up and help out.
The unenviable task of trying to make all of this work falls on Jeremy Colliton, and the rest of the coaching staff. The team is going to stumble mightily through the season, but there are visible holes that need to be filled. This season won’t be one where a few stars carry the team. That won’t be possible for Chicago in 2020-21. Instead, it’s going to a group effort where everyone has to chip in a little to get the job done.