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2023/24 NHL Season Preview: Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have had a tough last couple years to say the least. But they are moving forward with lots of momentum.

This year? Maybe not. However, landing the first overall pick in the lottery and drafting Connor Bedard first overall significantly expedited their rebuild. 

The Blackhawks are back in primetime slots, attracted some good veteran talent, and will be able to attract even more talent moving forward with a generational talent on their roster. 

How will this new look Blackhawks team perform this year? Read along for a season preview.

What:NHL Season 2023/24
Where:USA and Canada
When:October 10, 2022 - June 2024
How to watch:ABC, ESPN, TNT & NHL Center Ice
Odds:TOR Maple Leafs +800, COL Avalanche +900, EDM Oilers +900, NJ Devils +900, CAR Hurricanes +900

Where did the Chicago Blackhawks finish last season?

For the second season in a row, the Blackhawks were a doormat. They finished with the season with 59 points which was the second least points in hockey and ultimately led to them winning the draft lottery. 

There was also an official end of an era with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews playing their finals games in the Blackhawks sweater.

For Blackhawks fans, there was not much to root for last year. In fairness, they knew what they were in store for and were also very aware the reason for it was a decade of dominance. There was not one single bad thing that hampered them. 

The team was just bad and shallow top to bottom. Chicago was below league average in several statistical categories including both goals scored and allowed, power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, shot percentage, and save percentage.

After a couple of tough seasons, hope came back in a hurry when the Blackhawks won the draft lottery to land Bedard. 

Notable Departures

Patrick Kane

Max Domi

Sam Lafferty

Jake McCabe

Caleb Jones

Notable Arrivals

Connor Bedard

Taylor Hall

Nick Foligno

Ryan Donato

Corey Perry

When are the Chicago Blackhawks' key matchups?

The Blackhawks begin their season on Tuesday, Oct. 10 in Pittsburgh against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the week of November 22 through November 30, the Blackhawks play the Blue Jackets in the first showdown between arguably the two top prospects in the most recent draft, Bedard and Adam Fantilli. They then have their first rivalry games of the season against the Blues and Red Wings.

On Saturday, March 9, Chicago plays the Washington Capitals in the first game after the trade deadline.

Expectations for the season

This season and the potentially the next few would have looked a lot worse if the Blackhawks did not land Connor Bedard, the -140 favorite to win the Calder Trophy for the league's best rookie. 

While they are still a rebuilding team with the sixth-longest odds to win the Stanley Cup at +8000, they are now on the back half of their rebuild as opposed to the front half which is where they were just a few months ago. 

The arrivals of Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, and Corey Perry will prove vital to the growth of Bedard. Those guys are proven veterans that will mentor the youngster on how to navigate the NHL and be a true professional, plus it helps that they also still have some gas in the tank.

The Blackhawks have plenty of years of experience in the NHL with the aforementioned players in addition to guys like Andreas Anthanasiou, Tyler Johnson, Seth Jones, and Connor Murphy. But overall, their outlook is bleak once again due mostly to a lack of depth as the young, inexperienced players are supplemented with experienced players that have lost a step since their hey-day.

Look for the Blackhawks to be better than they were last season, be more competitive against mid-tier teams, but still get beaten up on by the top teams. 

The Blackhawks should take a significant step forward in 2023/24, but still miss the postseason. They should pass a couple of teams that finished ahead of them in league points last season.

As the season progresses, if Chicago is out of playoff contention, the front office may look to trade players on short-term deals for draft capital and prospects.

The best case scenario for this franchise is Bedard is mentored by long-time veterans, has a productive season, the team finishes low enough to get another high draft pick, and an increased cap brings seasoned talent in to play with Bedard entering his second NHL season. This year's roadmap will likely set up for that outcome.

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