Hockey World Blog

2015-16 Chicago Blackhawks Season Preview

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After winning their third Stanley Cup championship in six season, the celebration for the Blackhawks was short-lived. They had some tough decisions to make thanks to salary cap constraints, and the resulting moves over the course of the summer saw the team deplete a good portion of their core.

Patrick Sharp. Brandon Saad. Johnny Oduya. Kris Versteeg. Brad Richards. All gone.

That’s 67 goals and 176 points lost between those five players. That’s roughly 30 percent of the team’s goal scoring lost in the offseason.

If that doesn’t help paint the picture, consider this: Take the team’s 220 goals scored last season and subtract the 67 goals scored by those five players for a grand total of 153 goals—exactly the number that the league-worst Buffalo Sabres scored last season.

We’re now comparing the Stanley Cup champions to the Buffalo Sabres. That’s bad.

OK, OK…so it’s not all bad. The loss of key players in the offseason will open up opportunities for up-and-comers like Marko Dano and Artemi Panarin. A bounceback season for Artem Anisimov could put him back in the 20-goal range, and Andrew Shaw is no stranger to the 20-goal plateau himself. That’s a lot of “ifs” for the Blackhawks entering the new season.

The other big question mark for the team is Patrick Kane. After rape allegations surfaced over the summer, it was unclear if Kane would even be allowed to join the team at training camp. He was. But, as speculation persists and the case looms over his head entering the season, how will that affect the 26-year-old’s performance? The emotional toll of this type of allegation can negatively impact the best players, and Kane is an elite talent in his own right on the ice. It’s tough to believe that this won;t impact Kane’s performance in some capacity the longer it drags out.

Here’s the good news for Blackhawks fans: The organization has been here before. The team had to conduct a similar fire-sale after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 due to salary cap issues, and they were champions once again by 2013. Toews and Kane form the cornerstones of this organization for the foreseeable future, and with talent like that to build around, it’s tough to count them out over the long term. Sure, this might be a tough season for Blackhawks fans to endure, but it’s tough to believe that they won’t be in the Stanley Cup picture again in the next few years.

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