It is clear to all that the Blackhawks will contend for yet another Stanley Cup next season. However what isn’t as black and white is where exactly their production will stem from. While yes, a large majority of the dynasty squad remains, a substantial chunk of talent went in separate directions. That being said, the slack will need to be picked up in many different ways, and assuming all of it will come from the stars is just irrational. Below, I will go through the players that will quietly make or break the Hawks’ season.
Teuvo Teravainen - Center - 21
Teuvo was a key reason for the Hawks’ success in winning their 3rd cup under Joel Quenneville last season. He scored 4 goals and had another 6 assists in the playoffs alone! That all being said, expect the momentum from last season to carry over to this one. Teravainen will also see an amplified role this season because of the roster losses the Hawks had this season. Bottom line is this kid needs to have your attention, because he will be a make or break factor for the Blackhawks this season.
Projected stats: 80 Games, 40 Points, 14 Goals, 26 Assists
Artem Anisimov - Center - 27
While Anisimov slightly regressed last season on the Blue Jackets due to injury, he has still proven throughout his career that he is a threat every time he steps on the ice. Now expected to run the Blackhawks second line, Anisimov is set up for success. Playing next to versatile Patrick Kane, the Russian center finally has the pieces around him to string together a very good season. Watch out for this guy, he is going to be one of the underlying factors for the Hawks.
Projected stats: 76 Games, 44 Points, 12 Goals, 32 Assists
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Defenseman - 28
While Hjalmarsson isn’t someone who will quietly help the Hawks this season, he is someone who will surely be key for their defensive success. Last season he was the Hawks’ second leader in plus/minus rating (+25), and he was also their leader in shots blocked. This season I am expecting Hjalmarsson to take his last step to NHL supremacy, and for that reason Hjalmarsson will be a huge factor in 2015-2016.
Projected stats: 82 Games, 28 Points, 8 Goals, 22 Assists
Artemi Panarin - Left Wing - 23
Panarin is the ultimate dark horse for the Blackhawks this season. The kid has an immensely bright future, and seeing that he’s only a rookie, the image of what he may be able to accomplish is unforeseeable. This season Panarian has already stole the show as he is the Blackhawks second leader in points, with 2 goals and 2 assists. I am saying this now, and do not be afraid to quote me on this: Panarian will be the stud of the Blackhawks this season, and a KEY factor to their success.
Projected stats: 82 Games, 46 Points, 27 Goals, 19 Assists