On Friday Night, the Chicago Blackhawks will begin their quest to win a second Stanley Cup in the last three years.
And, after a handful of moves this summer, this year’s team looks like it could be a good bet to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Up front, the Blackhawks will feature some of the best talent in the NHL again this year. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa will lead a talented group of forwards. The biggest story coming out of training camp has been Brandon Saad, a teenager and 2011 draft pick that won a spot on the roster to start the season.
Some veterans were added up front that will improve the Blackhawks scoring ability and depth. Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers, Rostislav Olesz and Daniel Carcillo were brought in to add size and a physical edge to the team.
On defense, the Blackhawks made some more moves. One of the more shocking trades in the NHL this summer sent Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Olesz. Youngster Nick Leddy will be asked to fill some of the void left by Campbell.
New on the blue line this year will be veterans Steve Montador, Sean O’Donnell and Sami Lepisto. These three figure to compete for minutes on the team’s bottom pair, with All-Star Duncan Keith and Olympian Brent Seabrook continuing to play the most important minutes with Niklas Hjalmarsson.
In net, Corey Crawford received a nice contract extension this summer and will be the man in Chicago moving forward. After a very impressive rookie season that statistically placed him among the best goalies in the NHL, he’ll be asked to carry the load this year.
Backing up Crawford will be veteran Ray Emery, who played without a contract on a tryout basis during the preseason and signed on Monday.
The Central Division will be tough as always, with the Detroit Red Wings always being a championship-contender and the St. Louis Blues greatly improved. Nashville advanced into the second round of the playoffs last year, and the Columbus Blue Jackets made some dramatic moves to improve this summer as well.
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