Central Preview: Chicago Blackhawks
A closer look at the Central Division competition for the upcoming 2013-14 season.
Central Division at a Glance: Chicago Blackhawks2012-13 record: 36-7-5
GF: 155 GA: 102
2011-12 record: 45-26-11
GF: 248 GA: 238
VS Winnipeg Jets 1-0
2013-14 games vs. Blackhawks:
Saturday, November 2nd @ Winnipeg 7 pm
Wednesday, November 6th @ Chicago 7 pm
Thursday, November 21st @ Winnipeg 7 pm
Sunday, January 26th @ Chicago 6 pm
Top Forwards: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp. Also to watch: Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Pirri.
Top Defensemen: , Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya.
Goaltenders: After winning the Stanley Cup, Corey Crawford will undoubtedly start the season as the number one goalie. The Blackhawks also signed Nikolai Khabibulin to play a supporting role.
Young Players: Brandon Pirri (C) could become the no. 2 center this season after leading the American Hockey League in scoring last season (75 points in 76 games). Ben Smith, RW, could become a top penalty killer. Antti Raanta, a 24-year-old goalie from Finland, signed a one-year deal but will likely start the season with Rockford.
New Brass: For the most part, the team remains largely unchanged after last year’s success. Coach Joel Quenneville (who inked a three-year contract extension this summer) and General Manager Stan Bowman have opted to only add a bit of depth in goal and on defense.
Key additions: Nikolai Khabibulin, Antti Raanta, Theo Peckham.
General manager Stan Bowman added more depth in goal by singing Antti Raanta and on defense by inking Theo Peckham to a two-way contract.
Off-season departures: Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik, Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery, Daniel Carcillo, Steve Montador, Rostislav Olesz.
Bowman traded forwards Dave Bolland and Michal Frolik and free agent Viktor Stalberg signed with the Nashville Predators. Ray Emery signed with the Philadelphia Flyers and was replaced with Nikolai Khabibulin.
Big Question: Will the Blackhawks be able to repeat their Stanley Cup winning year?