For the first time since 2011-12, the Chicago Blackhawks failed to win at least one playoff series.
They actually finished the season with one more standings point (103) than they did in 2014-15 (102) when they won the Stanley Cup, so anyone calling this past campaign a failure is shoveling in some serious hyperbole.
That’s the thing when you set the bar as high as this Blackhawks group has, though; a season where Patrick Kane runs away with the Art Ross Trophy and seemingly random signing Artemi Panarin wins the Calder Trophy is still a disappointment.
Another off-season, another round of Blackhawks going out the door because of salary cap concerns.
To GM Stan Bowman’s credit, he did his best to make the best of things.
While he had to stomach the painful concession of giving up Teuvo Teravainen to get rid of Bryan Bickell‘s contract and needed to move Andrew Shaw after dealing with sticker shock, the Blackhawks did end up with three second-rounders and one third-round pick for their troubles.
Honestly, if Brian Campbell still has something left in the tank at 37, it’s quite possible that the Blackhawks managed to improve this off-season, even after some painful moves.
(Especially if that glut of 2016 second-round picks generates a gem or two. With Bowman’s track record in mind, it’s not out of the question.)
While Marian Hossa has lost a step or three, the Blackhawks’ core remains among the best in the league, and most guys are still in their prime range.
Maybe they don’t boast the same borderline-unfair surplus as they do in more robust years, but it’s more than reasonable to peg them for another deep run.