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Chicago Blackhawks Season Preview

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The Chicago Blackhawks have had an interesting time since the draft, with a bit of player movement in an aging team that at one point was no doubt a playoff contender. The majority of fans around the league have taken note that the Blackhawks are a largely aging organization, and in this window, they managed to nab another aging player in veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Without further ado, here is a look at how the Blackhawks could look for the 2021-2022 season.

Forwards

First Line: Alex DeBrincatJonathan ToewsPatrick Kane

This is a largely veteran line for the team, which could see it subject to change throughout the season depending on stamina, injuries, and other issues. This line puts up plenty of points while not having many scored against it. DeBrincat and Toews could move the puck enough to set Kane up for a huge season for the team. If this line were to change it is likely that center Kirby Dach would move up to fill the hole and play on the first line.

Second Line: Dominik KubalikKirby DachDylan Strome

The second line can really be seen as the coming future of the Blackhawks organization. Each player brings something different forward for this line, with Kubalik being the most veteran player among them. He will look to train up his linemates, while also showing what he has learned from his extra time within the league. Dach is a goal-scoring machine, who was already selected as captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships before the 2020-21 season. Overall this line could surprise people with their contributions and just how long they may spend on the ice.

Third Line: Philipp KurashevTyler JohnsonAlexander Nylander

The third line still looks to be one that could easily swap up to the second in most organizations, showcasing the depth that the Blackhawks pose with new acquisitions. Tyler Johnson came to the Blackhawks as the Tampa Bay Lightning were looking to shed salary cap space before the new season, however, Johnson took part in both playoff wins for the Lightning, and has looked stellar even in his older years. This influence could prove really positive for young guns Kurashev and Nylander, as the veteran talent has had a stellar career and could have some strategy to show these two young players that may help better their team and their individual playing styles as well.

Fourth Line: Jujhar KhariaHenrik BorgstromRyan Carpenter

This fourth line seems largely experimental but has a healthy mix of youth and veteran talent. Borgstrom has looked fairly strong and seems like he could benefit from the veteran influence of Kharia and Carpenter in order to learn how to make plays at the NHL level, while also having the pressure mostly taken off of him while he plays in the bottom six. Should Borgstrom need to swap out from the faceoff circle, he also has two players with experience on the dot there to swap out and look to win faceoffs for the Blackhawks.

Defense

First Line: Calvin De HaanSeth Jones

The pairing is the first of the brand new defensive lines for the Blackhawks, with Seth Jones just having joined the team in the offseason. Jones was a top performer with the Columbus Blue Jackets and is now paired with a veteran star in Calvin De Haan. The line will likely look to lay some big hits, as both players have a relatively large size about them, and could really cause some havoc out on the ice.

Second Line: Jake McCabeConnor Murphy

The second line looks strong as well, however features exclusively veteran talent, with both players having a fair bit of experience under their belts. McCabe will look to help the Blackhawks make a playoff push, as he left the Buffalo Sabres after feeling frustrated with the lack of competitive nature. As well, Murphy will look to show just how worth the new contract price he is, as he also serves his role of an alternate captain after Duncan Keith‘s departure from the team. Overall this line could surprise with a fairly high +/- average across the season, as both players look fairly good at either end of the ice. They might not be flashy, but these two players should look to get the job done from the blue line.

Third Line: Riley StillmanCaleb Jones

With the relatively high price that the Blackhawks are paying for Stillman, the team will likely look to get their money’s worth in some strong performances. Caleb Jones also looks ready to break into the Blackhawks lines, as he has had some strong performances in the past. This line is subject to a rotation to allow Wyatt Kalynuk a chance to show what he has at the top level as well. Overall, this line will look to both showcase young talent, develop these youth, and build chemistry to help the players show their ability as team players moving forward.

Goalies

After having acquired veteran Marc-Andre Fleury from the Las Vegas Golden Knights, it was already well known that this player would take on the starting position for the Blackhawks, as he has looked fantastic all throughout his career. The senior goalie has a trophy collection to be envied by any goalie in the modern game, with three Stanley Cups sitting front and center among them. While Fleury may be looking towards retirement, he still had an amazing season in 2020-2021, picking up a Vezina Trophy.

Backing him up will likely be 26-year-old Kevin Lankinen who held a .909 save percentage last season. This goalie has looked strong through his career so far, having been named to the AHL All-Star team, as well as having won a World Championship with Finland while having the best goals against average in the tournament. While his opportunities may be limited, odds are he will look to impress whenever he gets a shot.

Players Who Could Break in to the Line-Up

The Chicago Blackhawks have named three extra forwards to their roster this season, and all three that are not currently in these lines could look to rotate through the line-up in order to give veteran players a rest, as well as cover for holes in the lines caused by injuries. These three players are Adam Gaudette, Brett Connolly, and Brandon Hagel. All three of these players have their own merits and could look to come in strong and hard to prove that they deserve a spot in the lines, even as some of the players are in their veteran years.

The Chicago Blackhawks will look to recover their form to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, and as such will likely look to have a strong opening night line up, and will likely know beforehand how each player may be implemented to better the team in moving forward.

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