The Chicago Blackhawks are the defending Stanley Cup champions for the third time in the last six years. Now they will try to stay atop the NHL pyramid and the betting odds.
Blackhawks Offseason Changes
Notable Players In: Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Ryan Garbutt, Trevor Daley, Viktor Tikhonov
Notable Players Out: Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette, Antti Raanta, Dan Carcillo
Chicago traded Sharp and Saad and watched Oduya, Richards and Vermette all leave town to take more money in free agency. The Blackhawks did their best to fill the holes in their roster despite being limited by salary cap constraints and they identified Anisimov and Dano as two players they thought can make an impact among their top nine forwards while also bringing back Morin from Columbus. Daley is a quality veteran defenseman that can bring a little offense to the table as well and take Oduya’s place in the lineup while Garbutt factors in as a quality grinder that can bring energy and strong two-way player to the lineup. Richards and Vermette were quality role players rather than integral pieces but losing Sharp and Saad in particular hurt as those two talents couldn’t be replaced even though the Blackhawks did a pretty good job filling the roster with capable players at decent prices.
Better or Worse?
After everything that has happened this offseason, there is absolutely no way that an argument can be made that Chicago is a better team on paper than it was when it won the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks lost several key veterans and in addition, one of their star players Patrick Kane is being investigated for allegations of an off-ice incident that could lead to him being charged. Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith still represent one of the league’s best core groups and Chicago has more than enough talent to at least make the playoffs – either with or without Kane – but the hope here is that if everything goes right, they can maintain. After losing so many key pieces, the Blackhawks will certainly face an uphill climb in the loaded Western Conference.
Odds To Win Stanley Cup: +650 at Pinnacle
Odds To Win Western Conference: +325 at Bet365
The Blackhawks enter this season as the defending Stanley Cup champions and that is a big reason why they are listed as the favorites to win the Western Conference and repeat as champions. However, the reality is that Chicago lost far too many key pieces to deserve the label of preseason favorites to win it all and they will have a very tough time conquering even their conference this year. It’s understandable why the NHL odds indicate the Blackhawks are at +325 to win the West and +650 to win the Stanley Cup but I don’t think there is enough talent leftover to repeat and that means there are better bets elsewhere when it comes to making NHL picks for futures for this season.