The Blackhawks have had a rough season to say the least. At the beginning of the year, they looked to be a playoff contender like they have been every year since head coach Joel Quwnneville took over. The first few games of the season made it seem even more likely the Hawks were “back” after their first round exit the year prior. Since then, it’s been a fight the Hawks haven’t been able to win, as they have fallen out of playoff contention and seem to be in store for some big changes. This year, more than ever it seems, the Hawks had to dump a lot of players and go for younger, unproven guys or old and cheap players. The cap has always been an issue for the Hawks, but this year it really caught up with them, causing the biggest age gap on a single team in recent Hawks history. The mix of inexperienced young players with older, more reliable but way past their prime players has caused the Hawks to crumble into mediocrity. This week we’ll take a look at three players that were expected to do a lot more that haven’t lived up to expectations this year.
1. Brandon Saad
I hate to say it because Brandon Saad was a fan favorite before he left and great things were expected from him when he came back to the Hawks. He was going to give Johnathon Toews a legitimate threat on the first line to skate with and provide Toews a luxury he hasn’t had very much in his career. This year, Saad has not lived up to expectations. In 63 games this year, he has a measly 15 goals and 12 assists. To make matters worse, six of those goals came in the first six games of the season, which means in the last 57 he’s played he only has nine goals. So much more was expected from Saad, and it seems he’s quickly fallen out of favor in Chicago.
2. Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp had a great ten-year stint in Chicago, where he helped the Hawks to three Stanley cups and was integral part of the Hawks. In his second coming, he came in on the cheap due to being 37 years of age. It seemed like a great signing by the Hawks, but it hasn’t worked out well for Chicago. Sharp has 16 points this season, and while that’s not awful being a 3rd line winger, more was expected from Sharp. Sharp had one 16 game pointless streak and more recently an eight game pointless streak. Things haven’t worked out for Sharp this year and I expect he will not be back with the team next year.
3. Brent Seabrook
Brent Seabrook received a massive contract, 8 years, 55 million dollars which is eating the Hawks cap. To add insult to injury, the contract was not warranted at all, as Seabs hasn’t played up to his contract. He’s actually regressed this year and he’s starting to show his age. This season, Seabs has been beat one too many times defensively, made mistakes and showed a lack of effort on most nights. For a guy that was supposed to be a top line D man for the Hawks this season, he has been anything but. Unfortunately, he has a no movement clause built into his contract so the Hawks can’t dump him even if they wanted to.
All three of these players have not performed well for the Hawks this year and it’s showed in the stat sheets as well as the games. It seems likely that Saad and Seabrook will be back next year, so let’s hope that they can have better seasons next year. As for Sharp, his time in Chicago is almost up, and by the end of the season, maybe he’ll hang up the skates.