In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Eleventh up are the Chicago Blackhawks who are in their 93rd season as an NHL team. They have now missed the playoffs the last two seasons after an impressive streak previously which included nine consecutive playoffs made and three cups from Lord Stanley.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 20th
- Goals for Rank: 8th
- Goals against Rank: 30th
- PP Rank: 15th
- PK Rank: 31st
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 20th
- Western Conference Standings: 9th
- Central Division Standings: 6th
- Coach: Jeremy Colliton (2nd season with Chicago: 30-28-9 record)
On offense, I’m going to make a comment that will make me unpopular with Blackhawks fans. I don’t think the forwards can hold the pace they did last season, especially among their top five players in points: Patrick Kane scored as 12.9%, Jonathan Toews 14.9%, Erik Gustafsson 10.6%, Alex DeBrincat 18.6% and Dylan Strome 16.2% that is a career high for everyone except Kane and Toews and by a few percentage points. Add to that it was the most points Jonathan Toews has ever put up, I’m not saying last year was a complete anomaly but I expect some regression in goals this season. The good news is that they are still above average offensively and having Kane, Toews, Strome and DeBrincat on your team is a difficult group to contend with. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews should start to see their stats slowly decline as they enter into their young 30’s and I will be curious how Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome backfill that production for the team.
Defensively, I had MAJOR concerns with this team up until the team addressed them (they had the 2nd fewest hits and 10th fewest blocked shots). They allowed the 2nd most shots against last season. Recent acquisition Calvin De Haan helps the team bringing in 187 hits and 106 blocked shots last season. Olli Maatta is a young talent at 24 and also had a respectable 97 hits and 116 blocked shots. Stars of the team such as Brent Seabrook (34 years old), Duncan Keith (36 years old) are far from what they once were and their contracts are making things a little difficult on the team. Olli and Calvin should also help the penalty kill where the team was worst in the league last season. This team was the 7th oldest in NHL last season and the defense drove that.
In net, Corey Crawford had 2.92 GAA (34th) and a .908 sv% (32nd), some of this is due to the fact that they allowed the 2nd most shots against but he wasn’t helping matters much in net. They brought in Robin Lehner who had a 2.13 GAA (3rd in the NHL) and a .930 Sv% (2nd in NHL). I feel like this is a tale of two extremes. Corey had an uncharacteristically bad season while Robin had a crazy career year. Honestly I expect to see a fair share between the two with an average – above average stats in net. I’m not 100% sold that Olli and Calvin solve all of the issues and could see these two still seeing a fair amount of shots.
Behind the bench, Jeremy stepped in after Joel Quenneville was let go. Joel began the season with a 6-6 record when he was let go and Jeremy stepped in and struggled initially but righted the ship as the team would finish 2nd to last ahead of the Minnesota Wild but a full six points away from the Colorado Avalanche who were in 5th place in the Central. Colliton lost 16 of the first 20 games but the Blackhawks came around later in the season to his style.
- Calvin de Haan
- Olli Maatta
- Chris Kunitz
- Artem Anisimov
Prospects and Picks
Adam Boqvist — The number 8th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Adam was selected as a very powerful scoring defenseman. He played with the London Knights last season putting up 60 points in 50 games. I think given the recent adds to the defensemen, Adam spends another season maturing and learning but he has shown some excellent pedigree so far.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Dylan Strome — His scoring % should go down some but he proved with Chicago last year what many scouts were touting on him for years. Two things are helping him out a lot, the first is his line mates where he was with Kane and DeBrincat as well as Toews on power play time. The second is confidence which looks renewed as he found his scoring touch last season.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$78MM Spent; $3.3MM in Cap room; 20 players signed