Most of America is drafting fantasy football teams right now, but in a couple weeks our eyes will turn to hockey.
Even if you don’t participate in fantasy hockey, predicting the output from the Hawks players in the coming season can tell you a great deal about how the team will do in the standings.
Here are our predictions for how the Blackhawks will perform this year.
First, we’ll look at the defensemen. One framing reality that we need to work within is the total number of games played; it’s unrealistic to believe that seven defensemen will play 82 games his year. If six defensemen dress each night, there are 492 possible games to be played by the men on the Hawks’ blue line.
Here are our predictions for the Hawks blue line this year:
- Key: GP (games played), G (goals), A (assists), Pts (points), bs (blocked shots), h (hits)
- Duncan Keith – 80 GP, 12 G, 40 A, 52 Pts, 150 bs, 50 h
- Brent Seabrook – 80 GP, 10 G, 45 A, 55 Pts, 130 bs, 210 h
- Niklas Hjalmarsson – 72 GP, 7 G, 20 A, 27 pts, 155 bs, 55 h
- Steve Montador – 75 GP, 5 G, 20 A, 25 Pts, 140 bs, 95 h
- Nick Leddy – 77 GP, 10 G, 28 A, 38 Pts, 100 bs, 30 h
- Sami Lepisto – 68 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 Pts, 70 bs, 55 h
- Sean O’Donnell – 40 GP, 0 G, 12 A, 12 Pts, 35 bs, 28 h
If you feel called to do so, go ahead and add up those games played. If you don’t want to waste the time, I’ll tell you that they total 492, leaving exactly zero room for John Scott to contribute on the blue line. Obviously these are projections and circumstances change the best intentions (see Leddy, October 2010), but the Hawks have seven good defensemen this year who could play 80 games each if asked.
The biggest jump on paper we’ve projected is Leddy pushing 40 points this season. If he takes over for Brian Campbell on the power play and produces over an 82-game season the way he did last season (as a teenager less than 12 months removed from a college dorm), he could be ready for a solid NHL season this year.
Now, let’s look at the forwards (swapping faceoff percentage for blocks on centers):
- Jonathan Toews: 78 GP, 35 G, 60 A, 95 Pts, 75 h, 55%
- Patrick Kane: 75 GP, 30 G, 45 A, 75 Pts, 20 h
- Marian Hossa: 75 GP, 30 G, 55 A, 85 Pts, 100 h
- Patrick Sharp: 75 GP, 30 G, 50 A, 80 Pts, 55 h, 50%
- Andrew Brunette: 75 GP, 22 G, 28 A, 50 Pts, 70 h
- Michael Frolik: 75 GP, 25 G, 35 A, 60 Pts, 65 h
- Dave Bolland: 70 GP, 20 G, 25 A, 45 Pts, 110 h, 51%
- Viktor Stalberg: 70 GP, 15 G, 20 A, 35 Pts, 40 h
- Bryan Bickell: 75 GP, 17 G, 30 A, 47 Pts, 200 h
- Ben Smith: 70 GP, 12 G, 18 A, 30 Pts, 85 h
- Marcus Kruger: 65 GP, 9 G, 18 A, 27 Pts, 80 h, 48%
- Jamal Mayers: 70 GP, 3 G, 15 A, 18 Pts, 100 h, 49%
- Daniel Carcillo: 50 GP, 3 G, 10 A, 13 Pts, 90 h, 110 PIM
Again, helping you avoid needing a calculator, we’ve added up 13 forwards on this list (not including Rostislav Olesz and John Scott), and the total games played is 923. There are 984 available games played by 12 forwards during a regular season, meaning our conservative games played estimates leave 61 available contests for Olesz, Scott, or perhaps Jeremy Morin.
Now for the part that a casual fan that doesn’t get involved in the fantasy aspect of the team cares about: what does this mean?
The most basic number that we care about is goals scored. These predictions would put the Hawks season goal total at 295 (without accounting for the 61 missing games from a 14th forward). To put that number in perspective, the Blackhawks ranked fourth in the NHL with 252 goals scored last season (258 led the league). During the Stanley Cup season of 2009-10, the Hawks scored 262 goals, ranking third (313 led the league that year).
There are three major question marks in these projections, though.
1. Patrick Kane’s health
He showed last year that, even with a couple slumps and an injury or two he can be a point-per-game player. His wrist is the cloud hanging over training camp, though.
2. Bryan Bickell’s wrist
The forearm nobody’s talking about is Bickell, who had surgery after the season ended to repair pretty serious damage from getting cut by a skate late in the year. He’s the most physical forward on the roster and could be headed to a 20-goal, 200-hit season if he’s healthy.
3. Dave Bolland’s back
Without anointing him the second coming of Eric Daze (knock on wood), the biggest question from Blackhawks fans over the summer has been “What if Bolland played 75 games like he did against Vancouver?” Well, he appears to be healthy now, so hopefully we’ll get to see the guy that posted 47 points three years ago.
This is a talented, deep roster that has cap flexibility to improve if needed. There is a lot to be excited about in Chicago this year.