Here Come the Hawks: Predictions for the 2014-15 Season
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The wait is over. Hockey season is here. In a few short weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks will be in taking the ice in search of their sixth Stanley Cup in team history. There is a lot of hype surrounding them, and they are ready to prove themselves after a heartbreaking game 7 loss in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. The Hawks are looking to lean on some young talent along with the usual superstars this coming season. Here’s a breakdown of the Hawks’ offseason moves and how the upcoming season should turn out:
The Hawks were very quiet during this offseason, making only three moves. This may seem upsetting to some fans who were seeking a big move, but in reality, this was a blessing. The Hawks were great last year, so great they were one bounce away from clinching their third Stanley Cup final berth in 5 seasons. In only trading two players away, the Hawks remain great. In fact they only got better. The Hawks only lost Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames and Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders. The Bollig and Leddy deals make sense for the Hawks because the Hawks were over the salary cap and needed to clear some space. In only trading away two players with minor roles, the Hawks put themselves in excellent position to only get better. The biggest offseason addition was bringing in seasoned vet and former Conn Smythe award winner Brad Richards. The Hawks were able to sign him away from the New York Rangers, and Richards should make a huge impact on the ice. He will most likely be the 2nd line center, paired with Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. Richards looked sharp in the Hawks preseason games and is already showing good chemistry with his linemates. The Biggest storyline for the offseason was inking the dynamic duo of Chicago hockey, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, to 8 year, $84 million extensions. Kane and Toews will remain in Chicago for a long time, and hopefully will raise a few more banners in the United Center.
The Hawks remain one of the youngest teams in hockey. Even with such seasoned vets as Marian Hossa and Michael Rozsival, the team has young talent with experience. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are only 26 and both have won two Stanley Cups, participated in two Olympics, and each won the Conn Smythe award for being the playoffs MVP. But the Hawks have younger talent. Keeping with the theme that has won the Hawks two Stanley cups, young, lights out talent keeps coming up from Rockford, the team’s AHL minor league affiliate. The highlight of these young guns is former first round pick Temmu Teräväinen. The Fidish superstar is only 20 years old and is turning heads with his speed and skill. In fact, he reminds scouts of Patrick Kane. Look for Temmu to make and impact this year and to have an increased role as the season progresses.
Now it’s time for the good part: the prediction. The Hawks have everything going for them this year: young talent, a solid goaltender, veteran leadership, etc. In terms of the division, the Hawks are stacked up against some incredible talent. The Colorado Avalanche and the upstart Dallas Stars should give the Hawks a run for their money. I still think the Hawks have the edge and will win the division and earn the one seed for the Western Conference playoffs. After a hard fought battle, I believe the Hawks will find themselves in familiar territory: the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings. A rivalry ignited in 2013 when the Hawks stunned the Kings in five games en route to a Stanley Cup title. The very next year, these teams faced off again, only for the Kings to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in winner take all game seven. On a lucky bounce, the Kings won and won a Stanley Cup title of their own. I believe the Hawks should redeem themselves from last year’s heartbreak and bury the Kings in 6 games. For the Stanley Cup final, I believe the Hawks will face off against long time rivals, the Detroit Redwings. In a thrilling series, I believe the Hawks will come out victorious and capture their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. I say this not only because I am a die-hard fan, but because the Hawks are too good this season. Look for Patrick Kane to step up big this season and compete for the Hart Memorial Trophy (the NHL MVP award). This will be a memorable season for the Hawks, and I can’t wait to watch it unfold!