The 2015-16 season is one of uncertainty for the Chicago Blackhawks. The harsh realities of the salary-cap era were quite evident during the offseason. Brandon Saad (CBJ), Patrick Sharp (DAL), Antti Raanta (NYR), Stephen Johns (DAL), Michael Paliotta (CBJ) and Alex Broadhurst (CBJ) were all parts of trades meant to add flexibility as well as talent to the organization. Furthermore, the likes of Brad Richards, Johnny Oduya and Antoine Vermette have found new teams through the free agency market. In other words, this year’s Blackhawks squad will look different than the 2015 Stanley Cup Champions we saw in June.
The Blackhawks are stockpiled with young talent, especially down the middle and on defense. Six of those prospects got a look at some point during the 2014-15 season, the most notable being Finnish phenom Teuvo Teravainen.
However, with Chicago having eliminated the Minnesota Wild in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s quite evident head coach Joel Quenneville feels more comfortable playing his seasoned veterans in the postseason as supposed to the rookies. Teravainen and Joakim Nordstrom only dressed for two games in the first round series against the Nashville Predators, while defenseman Michael Paliotta has been a healthy scratch.
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has seen the enormous potential in scouting both European and collegiate players, and nothing shows this more than his recent draft history. In the last two drafts, 12 of Bowman’s 17 selections would skate in either the NCAA or Europe the very next season. There’s clearly no rush to get these young guns to the NHL just yet, so allowing these prospects to perfect their game in their respective leagues has been crucial for their development. Several Blackhawks prospects will also have a chance for an NCAA Championship at the 2015 Frozen Four as well.