2018 Chicago Blackhawks Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
The Chicago Blackhawks have been a model organization. They made the playoffs 10 years in a row and won three Stanley Cups over that stretch. But then last year happened. They not only didn't make the postseason, but they didn't threaten to. And it doesn't seem like this season is going to be a whole lot different. The team won't say that they are in a rebuild, but they are making actions that would let you believe they are. Like you, me and everyone else, they got old, and they need to figure out a way to shift to the next generation while respecting - and being financially handcuffed by - the generation that got them all of their success. It's not going to be an easy, or likely fast, path.
Chicago Blackhawks Offseason Moves
If you want to signal that you are not focusing on winning now, you couldn't find a better way to do it than making Chris Kunitz and Cam Ward your offseason signings. Both guys have had great careers, but Kunitz will turn 39 early in the season, and Ward is an old 34. They are not guys who are going to move the needle, and neither particularly fits into the new direction that the NHL is moving. Depth defenseman Brandon Manning rounded out the free agent action. The team doesn't have a lot of cap space to deal with, but it is still easy to think of a dozen more inspiring things they could have done with the money. Needless to say, fans aren't happy. A fourth-line winger, sixth defenseman and backup goalie were not what separated this team from contention last year.
The draft went better. Adam Boqvist, the Swede picked at eighth overall, is
widely viewed as the second-best defenseman in the class. He needs size and
likely - hopefully - won't be pressed into NHL action for a year or two.
But the upside is very significant.
Chicago Blackhawks NHL Outlook
Duncan Keith and especially Brent Seabrook have gotten old on the backend. They were the driving force of the championships - the best defensive duo in the league. Now the former is a neutral force and the latter is a liability. And Jonathan Toews and, to a lesser extent, Patrick Kane aren't what they were at the peak of their careers. When your massively expensive core is a shadow of what they were, and you can't really move them or make significant changes, things are not going to go well.
The biggest reason for hope, though, rests on the pads of Corey Crawford. He's one of the best goalies in the league. When he was playing last year he hid a lot of issues. But then he was injured and the wheels totally and utterly fell off. He may not be ready for the start of the season, which will put Ward in the starting role. That's better than what they had but still not good. Crawford's health is the driving force here - not for contention but for respectability. The challenge is that we don't really know what was wrong with Crawford last year, so it's raw speculation when it comes to how he will be this year.
Chicago Blackhawks Schedule
The month of October could be rough for the team. After opening the season in a manageable spot at Ottawa, things get tough. They play rival St. Louis three times - twice on the road. They host serious contenders Tampa Bay, Toronto and Anaheim. They travel to Minnesota and Columbus. Things could really go wrong out of the gate - especially if Crawford isn't ready to go.
Chicago Blackhawks NHL Futures Odds
The season win total sits at 84.5 at Bovada , with neither side drawing significantly unbalanced interest as of yet. Patrick Kane is, somewhat optimistically, the 12th choice to win the Hart Trophy as MVP at +2000. At +3300 to win the Stanley Cup, the team finds themselves behind 16 other teams.
2017-18 Chicago Blackhawks Predictions
It is so hard to deal with this team right now because of what we don't know about Crawford. If he is healthy and ready for a big workload at a level near his peak then they should be able to go over the total. If he misses significant time, though, then they likely won't. As much as I like and respect Crawford, I almost hope he can't go - a real down year could force them into a meaningful rebuild that could get that back to the levels they belong at sooner rather than later. On balance I'm not optimistic, and don't really see them as a real playoff threat regardless - the West is too deep for them. The futures price is a very long way from attractive.
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