Welcome to the “NHL Stanley Cup window” series, that focuses on the current Stanley Cup window of teams around the NHL.
Each article provides an overview of a team’s current window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. We will also discuss improvements a team needs to make, to be considered a serious Cup contender. Finally, we will give a realistic prediction and forecast of a team’s likelihood to win a championship in the near future.
This time around, we head out to the windy city and take a look at the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks’ current cup window
Impressively, the Chicago Blackhawks has been a contending team for pretty much the past eight seasons. They are considered a modern day dynasty by many and are a model franchise in the NHL.
Despite the restrictions of the salary cap era, they have impressively managed to maintain a core that still consists of players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Brandon Saad, and Marian Hossa.
With a core like this, one can definitely say that their Cup window is still open!
Amazingly, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are still not even 30-years old yet, and are still very much in the prime. With this duo at the forefront, along with the likes of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brandon Saad and Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks can quite possibly still compete at a high level for at least 2-4 more years.
What the Blackhawks need to do to possibly win another Stanley Cup
It is evident, that the salary cap has made things more complicated for the Blackhawks over the years. Along the way, they have been forced to make many tough decisions, and traded away several talented players including: Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Patrick Sharp, Brian Campbell, Andrew Shaw, and Kris Versteeg to name a few.
But, General Manager Stan Bowman has continued to find ways to redefine his team, to help them remain relevant. He has done this by consistently finding quality youth to inject into the lineup, adding the right complimentary players through free agency, and by acquiring the right players at the trade deadline.
Prime examples of these savvy moves were evident during their 2015 Stanley Cup run. Brad Richards was brought in as a free-agent, Antoine Vermette was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes at the trade deadline day. Players like Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen were youth developed and injected into the lineup. All of these players played a role in helping the Hawks capture their championship that year.
As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Why change? When this strategy helped them win three Stanley Cups in less than a decade?
As long as the Blackhawks continue to stick with this proven strategy, and give their Hall of Fame core the support they need, winning another Stanley Cup is never out of the question.
Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup predictions
Roadblocks to that success may be the emergence of new contending teams in the Western Conference, which includes the Nashville Predators and the Edmonton Oilers. Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Anaheim Ducks, should still be considered a contender for the next few years.
Losing players like Niklas Hjalmarsson, Artemi Panarin, and Marian Hossa (due to a skin disorder) will definitely make things more difficult next year.
Marian Hossa will be really hard to replace, but one shouldn’t question the Hawks’ ability to put together a team that will collectively make up for his absence.
On the bright side, they were able to get Brandon Saad back through trade, sign Czech defenseman Jan Rutta, and acquire a young right-handed defenseman in Connor Murphy. It is too early to say if these moves make the Hawks a better team today, but in the long run, it might prove that these type moves were the reason why Chicago is able to continually extend their Cup window.
In that, they are able to keep the roster younger, cost-controlled and give themselves an opportunity to win a championship.
Right now, they seem to have a decent stable of complementary players on the roster, including Artem Anisimov, Richard Panik, and Connor Murphy. Players like Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, Vince Hinostroza and Gustav Forsling looks to be on their way as well.
As far predictions go, the Blackhawks still seem to have the foundation to win at least one more Cup within the next three years. After that, things can get a little murkier. Then, it may unfortunately be the time where they finally have to consider dismantling this wonderful dynasty.
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