By: Alex Patt
The season is finally over, and it is unfortunate to say there will once again be no playoff hockey at the United Center this year. At least they finished above .500 (36-34-12) with 84 points. It was an overall odd season which saw the team climb back into a playoff race in the second half of the season, though, it also was pretty clear they were not a playoff team with their defensive struggles and lack of depth.
GM Stan Bowman addressed the media today talking about a number of things going forward including their cap room and the future of some of their young prospects. They’ll have plenty of money to spend and will continue to groom guys like Henri Jokiharju, Victor Ejdsell and others. But lets take one last look back at this season and give out some grades to key players. Note guys that will not be included are guys who only played a few games, or who have been traded away mid-season.
Patrick Kane: A+
Hard to go against a guy who played like an MVP this year. 44 goals, 66 assists and a career-high 110 points. He basically carried the team during their hot streak. What more can you say?
Jonathan Toews: A+
Talk about a resurgence, the captain scored a career-high in goals (35), assists (46) and points (81). Many people wondered if he ever was going to play like he did in his youth years from 2007-2012 again, and he certainly did.
Alex DeBrincat: A
Most fans knew he was good, but who saw 41 goals good? The 21-year old kid from Farmington Hills, Michigan showed that size cannot stop him from being an elite scorer and overall productive player. Bowman may have had his issues, but snagging him in the second round a few years ago was great. Only problem with him was he really faded the last several weeks of the season, but that is nothing to worry about going ahead.
Brandon Saad: B/B+
Saad is really close to the + range of the B grading. It is 100% correct in saying he bounced back nicely after last season’s disappointment. He played very nicely as a two-way player and more like the Saad we knew from his first tenure. 23 goals and 47 points are pretty typical Brandon Saad numbers.
Chris Kunitz: F
The former All Star and once 20+ goal scorer tallied just 10 points in 56 games. He’s nearly 40 years old so age just caught up to him. Why Bowman thought it would be a good idea to bring in a near-40 year old who has not put up 40+ points since 2016 is a mystery.
Dylan Strome: A
Considering he was a struggling 22-year old in Phoenix and he came over and put up 17 goals and 57 points in 58 games with the Hawks after the Nick Schmaltz trade, he deserves and A. Hopefully he can be an asset for the future.
Artem Anisimov: C
Not his best year, 15 goals and 22 assists. This is a guy who has scored 20 goals on a regular bases the past few years. He seemed to play better towards the end of the season. Arty is 30 and may be a trade chip this offseason.
Dominik Kahun: B-
His first year in the NHL seeing 13 goals and 24 assists and showing some nice speed. Could be a solid depth fourth-liner moving forward.
David Kampf: C
Not much of a scorer, but can play some solid defense for his position. Again another depth piece at the most, but not a bad one necessarily.
Brendin Perlini: C-
He did most of his damage in early-mid March when he scored the hat trick against his former team the Coyotes. Outside that, not all that much.
Drake Caggiula: B+
Scored 12 points in 26 games for the Hawks after getting him for the struggling Brandon Manning. The fact they got this out of that trade makes his letter grade go up. He meshed very well with the team and the Hawks did the Oilers dirty with the trade.
John Hayden: F
He’s an AHL player.
Marcus Kruger: D
Thanks for the great penalty killing and double-OT goal in the 2015 conference finals in your first tenure here, Krugs. You just don’t pay $2.3 million to someone who posts 12 points all season.
Dylan Sikura: D+/C-
He had some tough luck in 33 games and could easily have a few goals. He is a work in progress.
Duncan Keith: C
It was better than last year, he was a +13 and helped with scoring again. He is not the player he once was, and he got burned on a number of plays, but you still saw some flashes from time to time of the old Duncs.
Brent Seabrook: C-
We know what he did for us in those Cup seasons and in his prime, but that is long over now sadly. Hard to be mad when Father Time is undefeated.
Connor Murphy: B
Probably their best defender this season, not saying much, but he looked solid. He may not be quick or All Star level, but he played some nice games at the blue line.
Eric Gustafsson: C
Why does he get a C? His fantastic scoring ability (17 goals and 60 points) clashes with absolutely terrible defense. Make him a forward, his shot is wicked.
Gustav Forsling: D-
He’s probably gone next year. Sorry for the young kid, but just did not show us much of anything.
Slater Koekkoek: C-
Showed flashed of being okay, but he also made some costly mistakes on the ice with some brutal turnovers. Not much of a sample size but he is probably going to end up elsewhere next year.
Corey Crawford: B+
Suffering from more concussion issues, he came back and played his heart out the final month of the season. He looked like the Crawford of old when he shut out Montreal a month or so back. Hard to grade a guy who spent much of his last two seasons battling concussions.
Cam Ward: B-
The numbers do not look too pretty, .897 save percentage and a 3.67 GAA. He got off to an awful start to the season. HOWEVER, he played much better as the season went on and was honestly left to dry so many times by the bad defense. If you went off just numbers you give that an F, but considering the circumstances and some of the performances he put together later in the year, the grade has to be semi-respectable.
Colin Delia: Incomplete
We got a small handful of Delia starts this season. He made some incredible saves and let in some very weak goals and had trouble with rebounds. He’s a young kid who has work to do, but the promise is still there.