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Chicago Blackhawks

Venue: United Center | Coach: Joel Quenneville
Conference Team RankingsGF AverageGA AveragePower Play
Blackhawks3.182.5420.66%
Western2nd6th4th

Season Preview

 
Wes Goldstein's Take

They were young, exciting and showed the fruits of several years of drafting high last season, which put the Blackhawks back on the Chicago sports radar even though they missed the playoffs. But fans in Chicago are sophisticated enough about hockey to know they've got something good going on, and the new management team is smart enough to realize it has to take advantage of the momentum. That's why the Blackhawks made some of the biggest headlines splash of free agency, landing one of the top prizes in puck moving defenseman Brian Campbell in a $56 million deal and then following up by signing goaltender Cristobal Huet for another $22 million. Both deals seemed a bit extravagant in terms of the dollars, but the Huet deal raised the most eyebrows because Chicago is still on the hook for nearly $7 million this season to goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Chicago solved part of its salary cap problem by dealing away Robert Lang, and they might find escape route with Khabibulin who might end up in Russia after being waived.

Strengths
A fast paced offense featuring budding stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane that should become even more dynamic with the addition of Campbell's skills from the back end. The group along the blue line is still relatively young, but Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Cam Barker are all home grown talents who have matured together and are starting to form one of the better units in the league. Huet gives Chicago solid goaltending, and if Khabibulin does stick around, he'll provide the Blackhawks with one of the best tandems in the league.

Weaknesses
Chicago opened up the checkbook over the summer, but it left the Blackhawks dangerously close to the salary cap limit which could be a problem if the team needs to make a move during the season. Especially since Chicago lacks a solid second line center now that Lang is gone. The Blackhawks could use a little more size and some grit to give them a physical presence and they need to improve the power play which ranked 24th in the league last season and often seemed to be outscored by the penalty killing unit.

Intangibles
A new and enlightened management team that has changed the dynamics surrounding the organization and brought it into the 21st century.

 
Burning Question

Is this team ready to take the next step? It better be, given all the life that has been breathed into what was a near comatose franchise over the past 12 months. Everything has been done right from roster building to marketing point by the organization. Now it is up to the players to deliver and do it this season, or risk losing all that good will.

 
On the Hot Seat
Martin Havlat, RW
Havlat has one of the best skill sets in the league, but he's failed to live up to expectations in Chicago because he's been injury prone since coming from Ottawa in a 2006 trade.
 
Save the Date
Jan 1. vs Detroit
The second Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.
 
View From the Stands
goaltender8 says:
"Besides the potential let down in goaltending - the biggest hurdle the Hawks will need to overcome is Detroit. I feel like I'm reliving the the Chicago Rivalry all over again. First it was the Bulls and the young Jordan who couldn't get past the Pistons for years. Now we have the Hawks, with Toews, and the Red Wings."
Join the discussion!
 
A year after signing with the Hawks, Cristobal Huet takes over as Chicago's No. 1 goalie. (Getty Images)
 
2008-09 in Review
Record: 46-24-12 for 104 points
Finish: 4th in West, 2nd in Central; Lost Conf. Finals
Goals/Game: 3.17 (4th) Goals Against/Game: 2.55 (5th)
Power Play: 19.3% (12th) Penalty Kill: 80.6% (18th)
 
Fantasy Projections
Skaters
RWPatrick Kane82235679-357
CJonathan Toews793037671455
LWMartin Havlat722836641636
DBrian Campbell8294655928
CPatrick Sharp80262248867
Goalies
38Cristobal Huet231302.47.9234
39Nikolai Khabibulin161412.94.8991
Complete Fantasy Projections
 
Generation Next
Jack Skille, RW, 22
Skille will have to compete with a number of newcomers to earn a spot on the Blackhawks roster. The strong-skating power forward showed improvement in his second pro season, but it did not lead to minutes at the NHL level. The former first-rounder will need some luck on the injury front to secure a spot out of camp. Rockford (AHL) - 58GP-20G-25A-45PTS
In the System
No. Player, Pos., Age 2008-09 Team, Stats
1 Kyle Beach, LW, 19 Lethbridge (WHL); 54GP-24G-39A-65PTS
2 Akim Aliu, RW, 20 Sudbury (OHL); 45GP-18G-26A-44PTS
3 Antti Niemi, G, 26 Rockford (AHL); 2.43 GAA-.913SV%
 
Expert Picks
No. Goldstein Brown Devonport Hurcomb Cercel
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Complete expert picks
 
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