Dropping at least seven regulars from their lineup would mean a lot of trouble for a lot of teams, but not for the Blackhawks. Thanks to a horrible 2000s (minus the last two years), the Blackhawks had a lot of high draft picks. And because of that, they have a lot of depth in their organization.
What depth they didn’t have, they were able to acquire in the deals this past summer.
Best offseason move: Signing Marty Turco. The Blackhawks had to make a ton of moves this summer, and in many of the deals, they got role players, draft picks or prospects. But they got nothing in return for letting Antti Niemi walk. And they had to replace him. Turco is going to make the best of a bad situation. Playing with a better offence and defence in front of him, Turco will probably finish with 40 wins and seven shutouts.
Worst offseason move: Not managing their cap well enough. Even with getting rid of Colin Fraser, Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, Antti Niemi, Cristobal Huet, Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and others, they are still only about $1 million under the cap. And they already have $48 million spent for next season, with some free agents to re-sign, including Brent Seabrook. They can’t have a fire sale every year, unless they want to become the Montreal Expos of the NHL.
Dark horse trophy candidate: Kyle Beach for the Calder
Pool pick: Viktor Stalberg. As a rookie in Toronto last season, Stalberg put up 14 points in 40 games. But now he’ll be expected to be a top-six forward, see lots of playing time, play on the powerplay, and bask in the aura of Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane. He should be good for 60 points or so. Who to stay away from: Troy Brouwer. There are some who are saying he’ll be on the top line this season. Don’t count on it. Yes, his numbers have improved in each of the last few seasons, but they won’t this year, or not enough to make an impact in your pool.
Best hall of fame choice: Marian Hossa. Hossa has the Stanley Cup, and has been to the finals three straight years. He’s scored 40 goals or more three times, and at least 30 goals on seven occasions. If he plays out the end of his contract, he’ll only need to score an average of 12 goals a year to reach 500 (and only needs to average 22 goals a season to reach 600). So barring some type of long-term injury, he should hit those numbers and make it to the hall of fame.
Blog to follow: Committed Indians
My Prediction: Second in the Central, fourth in the West
Famous celebrity from that city: Jenny McCarthy