Going into the 2015-2016 NHL season, there were many questions, the least of which was the status of star winger, Patrick Kane. Factor in the loss of key players such as Johnny Oduya, Patrick Sharp, and Brandon Saad, and some experts weren’t sure if the ‘Hawks would make it back into the playoffs. At this point in the season, I think we can put all those concerns to rest.
Patrick Kane has be as focused as he has ever been. He has had some hot starts in years passed, but I’m not sure he has sustained them as long as he has this time. Barring injury, he is on track to hit the 50 goal mark, and top 100 points for the first time in his illustrious career. I hope he can continue this torrid stretch deep into the playoffs, and beyond.
The Blackhawks were somewhat taken by surprise when Brandon Saad suddenly went back on his promise of a “hometown discount”. Just a day before the deadline for players to receive offer sheets, he was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Trop. A move that puzzled more than a few experts and fans a like. We later found out that Saad left negotiations strictly up to his agent. Guess he forgot the part about taking a discount. A shame because Saad fit in pretty well.
As the ‘Hawks moved to get under the salary cap, they had to part ways with vital members of their cup winning seasons, including: Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, and Brad Richards. Richards was figured to only play one season, but it would have been nice to keep the veteran.
Not only have they put the past behind them, the ‘Hawks are on quite a roll. Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin have combined for 31 goals and 37 assists (27 by Panarin himself). Corey Crawford is having his best year between the pipes, and is surely motivated by being an All-Star snub. Fine with me. I’d rather see him hoisting another Stanley Cup.
We can’t predict where the team will end up, but currently they are on a franchise record 12-game winning streak. If they rock into the playoffs, they will probably be favored to take home another Stanley Cup.