2017/18 was a season the Chicago Blackhawks would like to forget. They missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years. To add insult to injury, they finished last in the Central Division and were a bottom-three team in the Western Conference.
Nobody expected the Blackhawks to be as good as they used to be but nobody saw them free fall near the bottom of the Western Conference either.
Whatever the case may be, heading into 2018/19, we will see quite a few new faces on the Blackhawks’ roster. So the real question becomes whether last season was just a one-off or will the Blackhawks continue to freefall into the abyss?
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Alex Debrincat
Nick Schmaltz - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
Victor Ejdsell - David Kampf - Dylan Sikura
Chris Kunitz - Marcus Kruger - Matthew Highmore
Extra Forward: John Hayden
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Erik Gustafsson - Connor Murphy
Brandon Manning - Jan Rutta
Seventh defenseman: Carl Dahlstrom
Best case scenario
- The Blackhawks are able to have a bounce-back year and make the playoffs again.
- Players like Alex Debrincat, Victor Ejdsell, Dylan Sikura, John Hayden are able to step up and provide solid secondary offense.
- Corey Crawford is able to stay healthy all year.
- Patrick Kane is able to become a top-five scorer in the NHL again.
- They finish top-three team in the Central division.
Worst case scenario
- The Blackhawks finish at the bottom of the Central Division again and miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
- One of their core players (Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad) suffers a major injury and misses a large chunk of the season.
- The Blackhawks are a bottom-five team in power play percentage again.
- The Blackhawks get little secondary scoring from Alex Debrincat, Victor Ejdsell, Dylan Sikura, and John Hayden.
There are a lot of questions surrounding this team heading into 2018/19.
Only time will tell if they are able to become a playoff team again. All in all, the Blackhawks still have a decent core of elite players including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad and Corey Crawford, which should give them a chance to win every night.
But they will also need a little more help from their secondary players if they want to stay competitive against their division rivals.
Times have definitely changed as the Central Division is one of the best in the NHL. With serious contenders like the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets leading the way, along with a young team like the Colorado Avalanche coming on strong. The Blackhawks will have to do all they can to hang on.
On paper, it doesn’t seem like the Blackhawks are good enough to win the division next year, but they should have a chance to lock down a third finish in the Central. This should be the main goal, meanwhile, a playoff appearance should be another major focus.
If the team misses the playoffs again, it might spell an end to this wonderful modern dynasty that won three Stanley Cups from 2010 to 2015.
How do you think the Chicago Blackhawks will do in the 2018/19 season? Let us know in the comment section below, and make sure to give us a follow on Twitter (@VAVELNHL_ENG) for more updates!