Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Chicago Blackhawks
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Gone – Stephen Johns, Patrick Sharp, Anders Nilsson, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, Antti Raanta, Kimmo Timonen, Peter Regin, Daniel Carcillo, Kyle Cumiskey, Johnny Oduya, Michal Roszival
Impact of changes – Lots of changes but the core is still being protected. It looked as though the Blackhawks didn't get much in return in the Sharp and Saad trades, but they actually got players back who can fill roles. Sharp is in decline and Saad is, to be honest, a little overrated. With some of the prospects ready to step in and the veteran core still intact, the Blackhawks won't see much of a decline at all.
Chicago gave up about 100 points between Saad and Sharp, but there are several prospects ready to go and two of them will add up to 100 points – or close enough to it. And Anisimov replaces Richards in terms of offense (even upgrades it).
Ready for full-time – Panarin is a high-skill, smaller player with first-line upside. But don't expect that overnight. In fact, it's not a guarantee that things translate to the NHL at all. But I like his chances. The Blackhawks do have need of a low-cost skilled winger and that need will only increase over the next season or two. I expect Panarin to be up and down this season between the AHL and NHL. If he impresses (and I think that he will), then he will make the jump full time and perhaps impress the way Ville Leino impressed Detroit and Philadelphia (we'll pretend Buffalo didn't happen).
Teuvo Teravainen is on the team for sure. And he's my favorite candidate to replace Saad on the Marian Hossa – Jonathan Toews line. And that means he'll surprise. I fully expect at least 40 points out of him, but if all goes well you can think much higher (like 55-plus).
Ville Pokka is a skilled defenseman who was part of the return in the Nick Leddy deal from a year ago. He is the favorite to fill the last D spot, though his initial impact offensively this year will be minimal.
Dano made a huge splash for the Blue Jackets as a midseason call up, making it impossible to be sent back down. He is a hardworking, hustling winger with some upside. But the offense he showed was a tad overblown. His upside is more of the second-line variety and he is likely going to be a third liner. However, if he wins the Brandon Saad spot then you can throw that out the window – he would of course flourish playing with Toews and Hossa. A 35-point player who could be 55 if he wins that job.
Fantasy Outlook – The defending Stanley Cup Champions were 17th in goals for and 20th in PP% last season. If anything, these changes (trades and prospect promotions) bring in higher-risk players with slightly more offensive upside. Prospect pipeline, after these promotions, gets a little thinner and it would be nice if Crawford would just be awesome for an entire season and leave out all doubt. But all in all in fantasy hockey, this already great team to build around just became a little better.
Fantasy Grade: A (last year was A)