After the Chicago Blackhawks‘ season came to an end, many questions were left. Veteran forwards Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp were not themselves offensively through the playoffs. Sharp only produced five goals and five assists in 16 playoff games. Hossa only buried two goals in 19 games this postseason. If these two forwards were able to produce more in the goal category, maybe we would be seeing the Hawks and Rangers in the Finals.
Obviously Hossa and Sharp are not the only wingers. Patrick Kane had himself one of the best postseasons of his career. He finished the playoffs with 20 points, eight goals and 12 assists. “Showtime”, as he is now known, really matured this season and I expect even more growth next season, which is scary for the rest of the NHL.
The addition of Kris Versteeg was just about as expected. At times he seemed to disappear and in the playoffs was basically a non-factor with only three points in 15 games.
When the Blackhawks signed Bryan Bickell, it stirred a lot of conversation about whether or not he was worth the $16 million over four years. He struggled to live up to the expectations of the big contract throughout the season. Once playoffs hit though, he found his stride and put in some big goals and made big plays when they mattered most.
Two names that really stepped up this season were Brandon Saad and Ben Smith, who scored extremely timely goals for the Blackhawks. Saad had six goals and 10 assists while Smith only registered four goals and two assists. However, he stepped up when the Hawks needed him most many times this postseason.
The Blackhawks could experiment with Jeremy Morin early next season. Morin has spent the majority of the past four seasons with the Hawks’ AHL affiliate. He saw a little bit of time with the Hawks throughout the season after injuries hurt the team down the stretch. He could really help the Blackhawks as he has the most NHL experience on the IceHogs.
If the Blackhawks wanted to look towards the free agent market for a winger, a name that would be a good fit is Dustin Penner. He would bring a more physical game to Hawks’ roster, while adding points on offense as well. He ended the season with 35 points in 67 games.
The Blackhawks are a deep team regardless of their playoff outcome. With the right roster moves, this team could be even deeper. The wing position for the Hawks is extremely talented and will continue to grow as a unit as next season begins.