The Chicago Blackhawks were one of the teams with the least amount of changes made during this extended off-season. With a shortened 48-game season after the NHL’s recent lockout this lack of big change could be beneficial for the Blackhawks.
The only real changes that were made during the off-season were adding two-experienced defensemen. The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Sheldon Brookbank from the Anaheim Ducks and Michal Rozsival from the Phoenix Coyotes.
Brookbank has seven years in the National Hockey League and scored more goals last season than he had in his combined five years previously. In his first 80-game season last year he scored three goals and added 11 assists. Last year was the first time in his career where he was let loose and showed what he can do when given the opportunity. Adding Brookbank will make for a solid second or third line in Chicago.
Now Rozsival on the other hand brings more numbers and bigger statistics to the table. His 11 years in the NHL will bring the experience the Hawks defense seemed to have been lacking in the last season or two. He plays a well-structured solid defense but also knows how to help put the puck in the back of the net. He scores close to an average six goals and over 17 assists per season.
Building on what has been a struggling defensive core since they won the Stanley Cup in 2010 is going to help complete what this team needs. But the biggest off-season change for the Blackhawks will be coming from within.
Plenty of rest and time to heal will bring back the biggest change that happened to the Blackhawks. After the Phoenix Coyotes Raffi Torres laid a punishing hit into the Hawks star forward Marian Hossa he was taken off the ice on a stretcher in game three of last season’s playoffs. With the diagnosis resulting in Hossa having a more serious concussion the future did not look bright for the 14-year veteran.
Fortunately for Chicago the lockout gave Hossa more time to rest and reassure that he would not be causing any harm to himself by returning too early. In mid-December Hossa was medically cleared to play and it looks like he’ll be back for the start of the season come mid-January.
Hossa scored 29 goals and tallied a total 77 points last season. He was the highest scoring player on the team and coming back a healthy Hossa will be the biggest gain for the Blackhawks during the off-season.
The Blackhawks not doing much in the category of off-season changes will be beneficial for them with this year’s lockout. They won’t have had to play any games without star player Marian Hossa and their team has stayed more the same comparatively to others. So the lack of many pre-season games and having extended time to practice and get to know their team won’t be as much of an issue for Chicago as it will be for others. Look for Chicago to be one of the most successful teams in the NHL this year, making a run at the Cup.