Chicago Blackhawks: 2017 Season Preview, Predictions

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Chicago Blackhawks

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The Chicago Blackhawks’ dynasty status is at stake in 2017-18. 

The NHL has made it very hard for teams to be consistently good. So far, the Chicago Blackhawks, despite various obstacles, have gamed the system. They have won three Stanley Cups in the 21st century, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the most.

However, the Blackhawks haven’t won a title since 2014-15. It was after this championship many started calling the Hawks a dynasty. At the time, they weren’t wrong. Three titles in six seasons is pretty darn impressive. But with the Penguins winning back-to-back championships, something even the Blackhawks never did, the dynasty could be ending soon.

As usual, Chicago had to make some very tough moves during the offseason. 2015-16 Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin got traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for old friend Brandon Saad. Longtime blue line pillar Niklas Hjalmarsson got moved to the Arizona Coyotes for Connor Murphy. Finally, reliable backup goaltender Scott Darling got an overdue pay raise from the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Blackhawks are no strangers to these offseason moves. It’s become a bit of a tradition in Chicago. That’s the price the Blackhawks pay for winning three championships and wanting to add a fourth. So far, Chicago has been able to maintain success despite constant roster shuffling.

The 2017-18 season is a vital and critical one for the Blackhawks. They are coming off consecutive first round exits in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their most recent one was a sweep at the hands of the eventual Western Conference champion Nashville Predators.

If improvements aren’t made, there could be some more serious changes coming. And for a roster with an aging core, that’s pretty concerning. It will be up to their usual core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford to lead the team in the playoffs once again.

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