Kane: Blackhawks better ‘on paper’ following offseason makeover

Posted: 11/08/2017 in NHL, Sports
Tags: , , , , ,

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A quick playoff exit led to a summer of change for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Following a sweep in the opening round to the Nashville Predators – who ultimately advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals – the Blackhawks weren’t shy about shaking up a team that failed to deliver last spring. It was a disappointing end for a Chicago squad that finished atop the Western Conference and has won three Stanley Cups since 2010.

“If you look at our season last year, I mean, we had a pretty good season,” Blackhawks leading scorer Patrick Kane told Brian Hedger of NHL.com. “We just kind of collapsed there at the end. Disappointing finish, but when that happens, you know there’s going to be changes.”

The Blackhawks will have a different look when they soon retake the ice, thanks to a busy offseason.

Out is Artemi Panarin, shipped to the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad. That blockbuster deal was one of two major moves Chicago made on draft weekend, as it also dealt defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for young blue-liner Connor Murphy.

The departures continued over the summer, as defenseman Johnny Oduya signed with the Ottawa Senators, fellow defender Brian Campbell announced his retirement, center Marcus Kruger was shipped to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, and a series of trades saw backup netminder Scott Darling and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk wind up with the Carolina Hurricanes.

But the Blackhawks aren’t without some additions. Joining Saad is another familiar face in Patrick Sharp, who spent an injury-riddled 2016-17 campaign with the Dallas Stars. Sharp could replace Marian Hossa in the lineup, who will sit out the coming season due to a progressive skin disorder.

Asked if the Blackhawks are an improved team, Kane told Hedger, “It’s tough to say. I think time will tell, obviously, but I’d like to think on paper we’re a better team … It looks great on paper, but we need to go on the ice and do it.”

Kane would know. Not only was he the team’s leading scorer last season, he is also just one year removed from winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top point-producer, a season in which he was also named the NHL MVP.

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