Monday, August 17, 2015

2016 Pool Projections: Chicago

Despite the cap concerns of the Chicago Blackhawks, their post-championship roster doesn't look too bad and there is every expectation that they are going to be a productive team, especially for us poolies.

Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Brad Richards and Johnny Oduya are all out, while Artem Anisimov, Ryan Garbutt, Marko Dano and Trevor Daley are in.  Yeah, it doesn't look quite the same, the names going out, compared to those who are coming in, but that's just it.  There was a lot of cap space that had to go out of this roster and the Blackhawks had very little to spend on their replacements.

Still though, the core of this Blackhawks group is still fairly intact and they are going to make a lot of players better, even the new faces that have joined the club.  The coaching staff has been able to mould these players into a championship pedigree.

Chicago will also benefit from a very good bunch of young kids in the system, as they develop into regular everyday Blackhawks, which will help fill the gaps in the lineup.

If everything goes well, leading up to training camp, the Blackhawks should be okay and back in the playoffs.

Player Pos 15/16 Proj Rookie
Patrick Kane F 80
Corey Crawford G 70
Jonathan Toews F 70
Marian Hossa F 60
Duncan Keith D 50
Trevor Daley D 45
Teuvo Teravainen F 40
Artem Anisimov F 35
Brent Seabrook D 35
Kris Versteeg F 35
Ryan Garbutt F 30
Andrew Shaw F 30
Bryan Bickell F 25
Scott Darling G 25
David Rundblad D 25
Marko Dano F 20
Andrew Desjardins F 20
Marcus Kruger F 20
Niklas Hjalmarsson D 15
Trevor Van Riemsdyk D 15 Y
Corey Tropp F 10
Joakim Nordstrom F 5

Table last updated on August 14th

Most Intriguing or Breakout Player

Well, it might be a little bit on the nose, but making Patrick Kane the most intriguing player on the Blackhawks is fairly necessary.

Kane's off-ice trouble surrounding a criminal investigation at his home in Buffalo, which has everyone scratching their head.  At the time of writing this part of the blog, nothing has been confirmed from the local police about how the investigation is going, so we're not going jump to any conclusions, but no matter which way you cut it, it will make for an interesting year for Kane, with this cloud hanging overhead.

If everything blows over and Kane is cleared of all the allegations, he should go back to being a very productive member of the champion Blackhawks, but if these off-ice troubles turn into something more serious, the NHL will likely have their way with Kane and then if he was to return to the ice, off-ice legal trouble has had a history of affecting on-ice performance with a few players.

This isn't what anyone wants to see, but it's happening and now everyone involved, will have to work around the consequences, if in fact, there are some.

First Round Picks

Kane is the only player that I have rated to be a 1st round pick, mostly because the team is likely going to go through some growing pains and the wins may not come nearly as easy.  Of course, if Kane does run into those legal troubles, you may want to scratch him off from 1st round contention and that will likely take down the projections of everyone else.  Kane is a 1st rounder, if he escapes all trouble.

Other Pool Worthy Forwards

There are plenty of weapons on this Blackhawks team, which begins with the captain, Jonathan Toews, who could arguably end up as a 1st round pick, but given the state of the team, I would be more inclined to shave off a few points.  Marian Hossa also gets a slight shave, the 36-year old should still be able to perform, but a lack of quality help will hurt his game.  Teuvo Teravainen started to pick up his game in the playoffs and should be better in the 2016 season, while newcomer Artem Anisimov will be given a pretty hefty load in his first year with the Hawks.

Other Pool Worthy Defense

The defense is where the Blackhawks will continue make their money, as the dynamic duo of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will continue to lead the way and poolies will continue to love these guys.  Let's not forget about Trevor Daley, who had been a pretty productive blueliner in Dallas over the last few years and there should be some bigger expectations for David Rundblad this season, someone who can earn some top four minutes, if he puts his mind to it.

Goaltending Situation

The goaltending has been a contentious point for the Blackhawks, but a 2-time Stanley Cup winner in Corey Crawford, should be quietening down the critics more and more.  The team's struggles with the cap may have some say about Crawford's contribution to his hockey pool teams, but he should still get a bunch of minutes and his fair share of wins at the same time.

As for a good back-up, the feel-good story that is Scott Darling, may be a top end second goalie, if needed.  Someone to keep an eye on, for sure.

Possible Entries Into the Rookie Race

Trevor Van Riemsdyk was supposed to be an entry into the rookie race last season, before an injury forced him out of the better part of the season.  With only 18 regular season games played last year, the 24-year old defenseman keeps his rookie status and the depth chart is very favourable to him.  If he can make that jump, he could compliment a pool team later on in the season.

Team To Pick From Late?

If you believe in these Blackhawks, you're probably going to pick from their lineup, whether I advise for or against it.  Chicago has good depth and the coaching staff usually knows how to use it, so with that being said, there is a good possibility that someone breaks out, but who will it be?  Ryan Garbutt?  Andrew Shaw?

Unsigned Players and Salary Cap

The team still has one restricted free agent waiting for a new deal, forward Marcus Kruger, who is waiting for the team to help themselves and help him out, working with their cap space.  Kruger is in the mid-range for a new deal, at age 25, he's looking for a decent raise on last year's cap hit, $1.325 million.

Salary CapThe Blackhawks, by my count, have about 18 locks on their roster, where there are 10 forwards, six defense and their goaltending tandem locked up for about $67.7 million.  That would only give the Hawks $3.7 million under the cap to add three forwards and a defenseman, at a minimum.  You can see where Kruger is going to have problems with his raise, which will limit what the Blackhawks can do for him.

Expect some more youth to fill in the gaps, using some of those entry-level deals to their advantage.

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