With the 2014-15 NHL season set to begin soon, it’s time to lay out what we should be expecting from individual Chicago Blackhawks players this year. Today we’ll take a look at Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp.
Seabrook had the best season of his career in 2013-14, putting up 41 points and constantly providing a great presence in his own zone. It was a great step forward for Chicago’s only physical defenseman, who tended to struggle with lengthy bouts of weak play and inconsistency in prior years. The head-scratching mistakes were largely gone, but all the positive parts of Seabrook’s game remained. He was nearly as effective as Duncan Keith, whose own season was good enough to win him the Norris Trophy.
With Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya all but guaranteed to take the toughest defensive assignments again, Seabrook will have the same opportunity to flourish in 2014-15 that he did last year. Another 35+-point season with stable, strong own-zone play is about what to expect from Seabrook.
Sharp also had a career year in 2013-14, leading the Blackhawks in goals (34) and points (78). Things were somewhat marred by a disappointing playoff run (most have simply assumed that Sharp was playing hurt, which is likely), but there’s little doubt that Chicago’s best pure goalscorer is only getting better with age. With Brad Richards added into the fold, the Blackhawks no longer have a glaring weakness in their top six. That means Sharp will be playing with two of Richards, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Brandon Saad at all times during even-strength situations.
With linemates like that and a development arc that still seems to be on the rise, we could very easily see Sharp surpass 75 points again in 2014-15.