Preview of 2017-18 NHL season: Chicago Blackhawks

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Largest Changes: a flurry of offseason moves were made by General Manager Stan Bowman, with the biggest being trading Artemi Panarin, the team’s high scoring winger, to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the deal involving Brandon Saad, the former Blackhawks forward. Last season Panarin had a total of 74 points, while Saad hasn’t ever scored over 53 points in a season. However, Bowman thought it was necessary to get the grinding two-way game of Saad’s back for a team that has lost during the first round that last two years in a row following it run for the 2015 Stanley Cup. In the same deal, Bowman was able to add goaltender Anton Forsberg as a replacement for backup goalie and pending unrestricted free agent Scott Darling, who was traded by Bowman to the Carolina Hurricanes. Forsberg will not be as good as Darling, who was among the NHL’s best backups. However the Blackhawks are hoping he will be good enough to give Corey Crawford a break every once in a while. Niklas Hjalmarsson, longtime defensive stalwart, was also dealt by Bowman to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for the 24 year old mobile, large defenseman Connor Murphy. The entire season will be missed by Marian Hossa, the veteran forward, due to a progressive skin disorder. The team is replacing him with Patrick Sharp, the 35-year-old versatile forwards, who was one of the stalwarts of the championship Blackhawk teams. For the past years Sharp has been a member of the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks lost Johnny Oduya, who signed with the Ottawa Senators in the summer and Trevor van Riemsdyk, who the Vegas Golden Knights took and then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.

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