Chicago Blackhawks 2008 Offseason Report
Finally after ten years and only one playoff showing, the city of Chicago can be proud to be a Blackhawks fan. In 2008 Chicago improved 16 points from two seasons ago and improved an incredible 23 points from the 05’-06’ season proving that this franchise is going in the right direction. Yes, they did miss the playoffs last year by only 3 points but also showed that Chicago will be a “black horse” contender for years to come.
The Blackhawks were led by two young guns; Jonathan Toews who was nominated for the Calder trophy and Patrick Kane who won the “rookie of the year” award. Actually, Chicago has eight important starters in the line-up that are all under the age of 25. This team is full youth and skill.
To mix with the youth, Chicago signed highly talented Brian Campbell to an enormous eight year contract worth over 56 million. He is going to bolster that talented defense that is full of grit with stars like Duncan Keith, Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook.
The days of Nikolai Khabibulin may be over as the team signed last seasons Washington Capitals playoff performer Cristobal Huet to a four year deal. “Habby” will see a new position called the back-up role but will be called upon for at least 20 games during the season.
A key factor for this team is the health of Martin Havlat. He is definitely one of the leagues best when he is off the injured list but has barely played over 100 games in the past three seasons. Also, Robert Lang is the quietest most valuable contributor on the team and his leadership in the locker room comes second to none.
The ingredients are all there and these Blackhawks are going to be something special very soon. To add to the fun for next season, Wrigley Field in Chicago was awarded the “Winter Classic” where the Blackhawks will face the Detroit Red Wings outdoors.
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Notable top players staying for the Chicago Blackhawks:
- Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Cam Barker, Robert Lang, Brent Seabrook
Chicago Blackhawks - Players lost to free agency:
Jason Williams, Rene Bourque, Patrick Lalime
Chicago Blackhawks - Players added via free agency:
Brian Campbell, Cristobal Huet
What Chicago has:
- The youngest team in the league with the most talent. This team is no joke and will only improve as time goes on.
- A secret gem who scored 36 goals including 9 on the power play named Patrick Sharp. This guy is a great accent to an already offensively stacked team.
- Brian Campbell can only make teams better. Scary thought when you add him to the Blackhawks.
What Chicago needs:
- To trade Martin Havlat. It is hard to score goals on the side line and he has been a good bench warmer for three years now. They should trade him out of town while he still has some value.
- Experience. Nothing more a young team needs than a little maturity and experience. Chicago could get a great old timer by trading Havlat plus more draft picks. I think a player like Brenden Shanahan or Mark Recchi would fit great on the Blackhawk squad.
Expectations for the Blackhawks next year:
- 2008-2009 will see the Chicago Blackhawks make the playoffs for the second time in the last 11 seasons. They will finish second in the Central Division behind the Wings and will make a run in the playoffs. I will put them even as high as finishing fourth or fifth in the Conference.
By Kevin Chaves
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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