Finally we get to cream of the crop for the new NHL season.
2015-2016 Stanley Cup Final: Blackhawks over Lightning in 7
You see the picture above? There is no reason to believe that we don’t see Jonathan Toews hoisting it yet again in June 2016.
The Blackhawks face some major personnel losses from this past Cup run like Brandon Saad, Brad Richards, Patrick Sharp, etc. However a lot of these aged players were on the precipice of having peaked or on a downward slope (except Saad) where you could really look at their last run with the Hawks as the last time they could be considered viable in the same fashion.
Chicago got a necessary reload in turn with new forwards like the 20 year old Marko Dano (who will be called up soon) the 23 year old Artemi Panarin (the “Bread Maker”), and the 27 year old Artemi Anisimov. A guy like the incoming 21 year old Teuvo Teravainen, is also expected to have a much bigger role, as one of the future superstars the Hawks possess. It should be also interesting to see if KHL transfer Victor Tikhonov can crack the lineup and provide an extra punch on that 3rd line.
It also wouldn’t be out of question to swing a trade at the deadline for someone like Kyle Okposo from the Isles to help effectively load up for a repeat once all of the new youth and players are ingrained with what the Hawks do.
On the defensive side, you face the prospect of developing top prospects like Victor Svedberg, who was praised highly by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, and the eventual call-up of the organizations’s top defensive prospect, Ville Pokka. Pokka won’t be down in the minors for long whether he’s ready or not, as the Hawks have plenty of aspirations to repeat thanks to development of someone like him.
Another key defensively will be defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk, who looks to stay healthy after a disastrous injury riddled first year, to be a necessary steady defenseman for Chicago on any pair.
It’ll also be interesting to see whether head coach Joel Quenneville can coach out some bad defensive habits from the newly acquired Trevor Daley. Daley will likely be the Hawks best offensive defenseman and puck mover, but there are some residual effects from a basic no discipline system in Dallas. How Daley acclimates to Chicago’s coaching and system, which I think will come very well in due time, may ultimately predicate Chicago’s overall predicted success.
The influx of youth allows the championship core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjaalmarsson, and others to have support after having played so many games the past few years. In turn, they can help the players grow and understand what it takes to reach the mountaintop.
Chicago will likely have a rough patch with its new members lineup within the first few months as they try to figure a lineup balance that effectively allows for three scoring lines and one checking line while getting the young players acclimated. However that means nothing.
For the Blackhawks its all about effectively building an early season point base in the standings, while having these new players learn and grow with the talent they possess. A reload was necessary and its exactly what Chicago needed to do to accomplish a repeat.
Tampa Bay will be on its own mission as they will clearly have grown and learned from last season’s loss to Chicago in the Final. They will come one step closer, as in an extra game victory, however they will ultimately fall short.
The mission of eternal greatness and hockey lore and legend rises above all. The Blackhawks have already been cemented as one of the greatest teams ever with three Stanley Cups in six years.
A fourth Cup on the heels of a repeat would mean a truly generational and unforgettable team on level with some of the greatest assembled rosters ever. That’s a given especially in the salary cap era. Guys like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith, will already be remembered as some of the greatest Blackhawks ever given what they’ve already done. They’ll be on level with greater company once they finish this.
The Blackhawks are the model franchise of the NHL. They have the best head coach. They have the best talent as well as the best prospects. Everything is set in motion for that plan in the the 2015-2016 season.
June glory again awaits Jonathan Toews and company for that mission.
The Chicago Blackhawks will win the 2016 Stanley Cup.
Robert Zeglinski is an aspiring sportswriter who absolutely loves all the nitty gritty that comes with pro sports. He is currently attending Aurora University in Illinois. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigZags82 or reach him through email (email@example.com) for questions or feedback.