Chicago Blackhawks: 2014-2015 Risers and Fallers
Chicago Blackhawks: 2014-2015 Risers and Fallers
Year after year, we see change happen before our eyes. Some of it is good, and some of it is bad. Whether good or bad, we must adapt to these changes in order to not just survive, but to thrive so we can live our lives to the fullest. How an individual deals with change varies, but mostly, we all rely on our what we know, our instincts. The more we know about something, the less risk there is, and the better we can make calculated decisions. And in this case, calculated predictions.
With that in mind, in the coming weeks I’ll be taking a look at each NHL team featuring 10 of its players. Are they destined to rise or destined to fall? Your questions will be answered below.
C Jonathan Toews (rising): Toews has been taking hockey seriously since he stepped foot on the ice, and it has paid off (literally), when he signed a 8 year, 80.5 mil (10.5 AAV) extension this summer, keeping him a Blackhawk until 2022-2023. Last season, Toews lead all Blackhawk forwards in ice time (20:58/game), face-off wins (884), and scored 68 points (28 goals, 40 assists) through 76 games, his lowest point per game total in the past 3 seasons. But there’s reason to be optimistic. The reason? Brad Richards is the best centre to skate with the Hawks since Toews began his career, and will undoubtedly relieve pressure. Between Toews and the rest of the top-6 (Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Richards, Saad), opponents will have to choose wisely how they neutralize both scoring lines. With the relieved pressure, expect a bounce back season (70-75 points) from the Winnipeg-native.
C Brad Richards (rising): The New York Rangers bought out Richards last season, after posting 51 points on a full season. Richards, 33, signed a 1-year contract worth 2 million on July 1st with the Hawks, and figures to fills in at centre for their 2nd line. Richards will bring a dynamic to the 2nd-line the Hawks have been lacking since the departure of Robert Lang in 2007, and in turn should help Richards reignite the fire he seemingly has lost with age. On a one-year deal, and on an offensive-studded Hawks, look for the PEI, Murray harbor-native have a season to remember (25 goals, 60-65 points).
C Teuvo Teravainen (neutral): Brad Richards may be the short-term solution for the Hawks 2nd-line centre, but the Hawks think Teravainen is the long term one. Drafted 19th overall in 2012, the Finn does a lot of good things from his explosive skating to his soft hands to win one-on-one battles. He’s on the small side (5 ft 10, 165 lbs), but it hasn’t stopped other small players like Tyler Ennis from exceling. It’s unlikely he skates with the Hawks, with Brad Richards now in the mix, without barring an injury to the top-6 as his style is better suited for a scoring role. Look for Teravainen become a hawk regular not this season, but later down the line.
LW Patrick Sharp: (falling): The Winnipeg-native lived up to his name this past season – he couldn’t have been more sharp. In 2013-2014, Sharp, 32, set career highs in points (78), and shots (313) and even made his debut for the Canadian Olympic team in Sochi. On the wrong side of 30, it’s unlikely Sharp improves his numbers or scores at the rate he did last year, but another 30-goal 65-70 point? Mark it.
LW Brandon Saad (rising): He hit the jackpot when he fell down the draft board in 2011 to be selected by the Chicago Blackhawks. The Gibsonia, Pennsylvania-native solidified a spot in the Hawks top-6 after a terrific rookie campaign scoring 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 46 games, and continued his success last season scoring 47 points (19 goals, and 28 assists) in 78 games. A power forward by nature, Saad opens up space for his line mates and owns an underrated scoring touch we’ll see develop as he grows. At only 22 years old, Saad has exceeded expectations and is in an optimal situation to continue. A 25 goal, 55-point season is not out of reach for the youngster in 2014-2015.
RW Patrick Kane (rising): Kane became a rich man this summer after signing $84 million extension, one that will pay him 10.5 million for the next 8 seasons, starting in 2015-2016. At 25 years old, we all know what to expect from Kane – dangles, sniping, beating up cab drivers over 20 cents – he’s one of the best players in (and out) the league, but at the end of the season, every year, I can’t help but feel there’s another level we haven’t seen yet. In 2014-2015, and money now on the back burner, look for the skilled winger to score at a point per game rate.
RW Marian Hossa (neutral): Hossa had an underwhelming season last year, scoring at the lowest rate (77.5 points / game) we’ve seen since 1999-2000. Since he came to Chicago, he’s had been a key cog on the Hawks power play (1:20min PK / game), yet it has yet to have his offense much at all. Even scored at his lowest in a while, Hossa will aid from the coming of Brad Richards, so he’s due for a repeat season or even a small rebound depending on who he lines up with. At minimum Expect another 30 goal, 60 point year from the seasoned Slovak.
D Duncan Keith (falling): Last time Keith had a 60+ point season, he fell to 45 points the following year. At 32 years old, Keith is the #1 defenseman for the Hawks, and with that comes with many responsibilities, besides putting pucks in the net. He had 2:23min / game on the penalty kill and managed a +22 for fourth best on the team. If history means anything, based on the stats alone a decline is more than likely, for the Winnipeg-native.
D Brent Seabrook (rising): The other half of the Hawks top defensive pairing had his second best season, scoring 41 points (7 goals, 34 assists) over 82 games. Better was his playoff performance, scoring 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) over 16 games. Seabrook, 28, is one of those players who are typically known for being more valuable in real-life than in fantasy but with the rise of hits and blocks coming into the mix, he is proving to be a commodity in fantasy circles. Look for 35-point campaign along with good peripherals from the Richmond, B.C.-native.
G Corey Crawford (neutral): A mediocre goalie on an all-star team, Crawford, 29, had one of his better seasons sporting a 32-16-10 record along with a 2.26 GAA, a .917SV% and 2 shutouts. He’s not a terrific goaltender, but he’ll always rack up the Ws because of the team he backstops. If the Hawks had a better backup than Antti Raanta and weren’t paying him 6 million a year for the next 4 seasons I’d be worried for him, but luckily for him, none of those apply. Look for another mediocre, win-heavy season from Crawford in 2014-2015.