The Chicago Blackhawks finished third in the Central Division in 2013-14. They knocked off the second seed St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs before advancing to the Western Conference finals with a six-game win over the Minnesota Wild.
The big news during the offseason were the identical eight-year, $84 million contracts the team signed with forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks also went outside the organization and signed center Brad Richards. The Blackhawks may be in salary cap trouble in the future, but are in win now mode and those three additions prove it.
The Blackhawks are one of the favorites to win the Central Division and challenge for their third Stanley Cup championship in the last six seasons.
Blackhawks vs. Wild last season
Regular season – Oct. 26: Wild 5, Blackhawks 3 at United Center; Oct. 28: Blackhawks 5, Wild 1 at Xcel Energy Center; Dec. 5: Wild 4, Blackhawks 3 at Xcel Energy Center; Jan. 23: Wild 2, Blackhawks 1 at Xcel Energy Center; Apr. 3: Blackhawks 3, Wild 2, SO at United Center
Playoffs – May 2: Blackhawks 5, Wild 2 at United Center; May 4: Blackhawks 4, Wild 1 at United Center; May 6: Wild 4, Blackhawks 0 at Xcel Energy Center; May 9: Wild 4, Blackhawks 2 at Xcel Energy Center; May 11: Blackhawks 2, Wild 1 at United Center; May 13: Blackhawks 2, Wild 1, OT at Xcel Energy Center
Blackhawks vs. Wild this season
Dec. 16 at United Center; Jan. 8 at Xcel Energy Center; Jan. 11 at United Center; Feb. 3 at Xcel Energy Center; Apr. 7 at United Center
Joel Quenneville (706-401-77-100 in 17 seasons as a head coach, 268-127-59 in six seasons with the Blackhawks)
Goalies – 50 Corey Crawford, 31 Antti Raanta
Defensemen – 4 Niklas Hjalmarsson, 2 Duncan Keith 8 Nick Leddy, 27 Johnny Oduya, 32 Michal Rozsival, 5 David Rundblad, 7 Brent Seabrook
Forwards – 29 Bryan Bickell, 81 Marian Hossa, 88 Patrick Kane, 16 Marcus Kruger, 53 Brandon Mashinter, 11 Jeremy Morin, 12 Peter Regin, 91 Brad Richards, 20 Brandon Saad, 10 Patrick Sharp, 65 Andrew Shaw, 28 Ben Smith, 19 Jonathan Toews, 23 Kris Versteeg
How they can make the playoffs
If everything shakes out as expected. The Blackhawks have one of the most talented rosters in the league. They just need to play their game and they will be one of the four or five Central Division tams in the playoffs.
How they cannot make the playoffs
The Blackhawks have an outstanding top six forward group, blue line and goaltender. If injuries hit any of them, they may not have enough depth to make up for the losses.