The Hawks bade farewell to a few hometown favorites in Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen this offseason. Bryan Bickell was another Hawk who would be leaving the team which I think came a little late. I loved Bickell in the ‘13 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but after that season he stopped doing his job as a big power forward and seemed to just stand in the way rather than have a real presence.
Shaw, known for chirping at and irritating opposing players while offering up some big hits, was traded to Montreal in exchange for two second-round draft picks in the 2016 NHL Draft. Shaw has been replaced with another well-known agitator in Jordin Tootoo, a recent pick up from the Devils. Tootoo has a similar reputation to Shaw, but comes with a much smaller price tag. Unfortunately, he may not be as effective as Shaw as Tootoo only tallied 9 total points in the ‘15-’16 season while Shaw chalked up 14 goals and 20 assists for the Hawks. Tootoo may be a grinder that the Hawks desperately need since they traded Shaw, but Shaw created big scoring chances, added to the scoreboard and got in the opposing team’s head. Hopefully Tootoo will step up and do the same.
Another addition to the Hawks bench is defenceman Michal Kempny, a recent pick up from the Czech Republic who was signed as a free-agent. Coming from the KHL, he tallied 21 points last season, 16 of which were assists, not bad for a defenceman. This new acquisition by the Blackhawks should add to the offensive arsenal so long as his KHL stats can translate into the Bigs.
A few things have stayed the same for the Hawks since last year and all Hawks fans are grateful for it, keeping together Stanley Cup veterans Duncan “No-Teeth” Keith, Patrick “Hat trick” Kane, NIklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook, Artemi Panarin, and Chicago’s Captain Jonathan Toews. This core group has earned their veteran titles for both the regular season and playoffs. While Artemi Panarin is the youngest of the bunch, he boasted 30 goals and 77 points in the ‘15-’16 season, earning him the Calder Trophy, or the NHL’s “Rookie of the Year.”
The Blackhawks have a solid team, but of course there is room for improvement. One improvement I’d make would be to drop Michal Roszival. He’s 37 years old, can barely defend the line anymore, and once he’s one on one with a forward he just gets in his goalie’s way. He’s slow and as we learned from last season, he costs the Hawks goals. Roszival is the one player that I’ve wanted the Hawks to dump for the past two years. Either bring up a young buck from Rockford or trade for another D-man who actually serves his title. Nothing against him personally, but I think it’s time he and the Hawks bid farewell.
Although a few fan favorites have left the Blackhawks since they won the cup in 2015, the team is still pretty solid. I will say though, that I did not agree with the Shaw trade. We needed that offensive grinder. Tootoo has some big skates to fill as do the other new additions to the bench to help the Hawks bring Lord Stanley back to sweet home Chicago.