Which Chicago Blackhawks Can You Trust in Fantasy Hockey?
After winning their third Stanley Cup since 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks reconstructed their roster, making even more adjustments to a roster that has seen enough turnover to make one’s head spin.
Out are familiar faces Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Brandon Saad and Brad Richards (among a cast of others), and in are Artemi Panarin, Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt, Artem Anisimov, Viktor Tikhonov, Marko Dano and Kyle Baun.
How those players fit in to the core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and the rest of the holdovers from last season is still fluid, but what is known can help you decide who to target short and long-term in fantasy hockey.
Toews, Kane, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook and Crawford are the known commodities who should be owned in fantasy hockey, and according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times and others, Toews and Hossa will be together on the top line for another season after anchoring an offense that scored 2.7 goals per game last season, 17th best overall. The Hawks had a team Corsi For percentage (CF%) of 53.6, second best in the NHL. You hold on to the puck, you generate more scoring chances, and you have a better chance of winning.
Top Two Lines
The question with the top line is who plays on the left side of Toews? So far, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Dano have auditioned on the top line. Dano is starting the year in the AHL, so he is off the short-term short list (but there's ore on him later).
If recency bias says anything, “Turbo” Teravainen gets the nod, making him must-own. There is some risk as well with Teuvo on the top line, as head coach Joel Quenneville is not very patient with younger players.
The second scoring line has seen the biggest face-lift. Kane remains on the right side, and newcomers Anisimov and Panarin appear to be the first two to play alongside
Anisimov scored a career-high 22 goals in 2013-14 before dealing with injuries last season.
Panarin is a complete unknown because he has never played in
Anisimov and Panarin will be owned in some leagues from the get-go, so keep your eyes peeled for them now and monitor their chemistry with Kane.
Marko Dano is a player that should be on all fantasy owner radars once he gets the call to the big show. He has shown he can play in the NHL already, netting 8 goals and 21 points in 35 games last season with the Blue Jackets.
Not a Fantasy-Friendly Defense
The defense in
A Top Fantasy Goalie
Corey Crawford is a top-12 fantasy goalie. His 32 wins (in 57 games), 2.27 goals against average and .924 save percentage were all among the top 12 last season. He also won his second Jennings Memorial Trophy, tying NHL MVP Carey Price for fewest goals allowed. “Crow” allowed two or fewer goals in 71% of games in 2014-15. Price, for comparison’s sake, did so in 66% percent of his 66 games.
Crawford earned two shutouts last season -- not terrible, but not elite. Crawford will be a low-end number-one goalie or an elite number-two goalie.
The Blackhawks have plenty of star talent left on the roster, and that can help give value to lesser-known commodities, but this Stanley Cup champion squad isn't without fantasy question marks.