2017-18 wasn’t a success for the Chicago Blackhawks. For a team that registered 109 points in the previous season, anything short of Stanley Cup contention would seem disappointing. Disappointment may have been the nicest way of expressing how fans felt after the season began and the team immediately, obviously, wasn’t the same beast that had finished first in the Western Conference in 2016-17.
Maybe that should have been expected after an offseason saw incredible turnover to the roster, with Artemi Panarin, Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Brian Campbell, Marcus Kruger, Scott Darling and several others fail to return for a variety of reasons. But, with familiar faces like Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp back in town, there was hope that they could maintain their Stanley Cup window.
It wasn’t to be, as Chicago recorded just 76 points and failed to even be in the playoff race for much of the season. Saad failed to record 20 goals, Jonathan Toews registered the worst offensive season of his career, and Corey Crawford struggled through injury.
Disappointing, to say the least.
But, with all of those negatives sticking out there may be some who have overlooked the positives from this season’s edition of the Chicago Blackhawks. Alex DeBrincat burst onto the scene with 28 goals an 52 points as a rookie, just a year after he was cut from the US World Junior team. His knack for finding open ice didn’t disappear at the NHL level, and the 20-year old winger looks like he should have several 30-goal seasons in his career.
Jordan Oesterle went from NHL cast-off to 20-minute defenseman overnight, and looks like a legitimate top-4 player for the coming years. He’ll cost the Blackhawks just $650K next season, an incredible value for a player that they’ll rely on heavily.