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Team Reset

Blackhawks eye return to playoffs with additions of Lehner, Maatta

Chicago hoping for improved goaltending, defense; Shaw acquisition bolsters forward depth

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Chicago Blackhawks:

The Chicago Blackhawks are hoping changes to their goalies and defensemen will help them return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after failing to qualify in each of the past two seasons.

Robin Lehner signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks on July 1 after one season with the New York Islanders. He won the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, the William M. Jennings Trophy with teammate Thomas Greiss for allowing the fewest goals, and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL. 

Lehner's addition gives Chicago depth at the position after  Corey Crawford missed 80 games over the past two seasons because of concussions (47 games in 2017-18; 33 games in 2018-19).

"Looking back the last few years, it's been hard to weather the storm when injuries are part of the game," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "I think we have the best 1-2 punch in the League is the way I look at it right now."

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Olli Maatta in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Dominik Kahun and a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on June 15. Nine days later, Chicago acquired defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward Aleksi Saarela in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes for goalie Anton Forsberg and defenseman Gustav Forsling. 

Chicago hopes the moves will shore up a defense that allowed 291 goals last season, second most in the NHL behind the Ottawa Senators (301). 

Looking for a consistent net-front presence, the Blackhawks acquired forward Andrew Shaw and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on June 30 for a second- and seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. Shaw won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015.   

"We have two high-end goaltenders, we've improved our defense, and we've made changes up front. So we're a different team," Bowman said. "I'm very optimistic for where we're headed."

Here is what the Blackhawks look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Robin Lehner, G: The 27-year-old went 25-13-5 with a 2.13 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and six shutouts in 46 games (43 starts) with the Islanders last season. … Calvin de Haan, D: He had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 74 games with the Hurricanes last season. The 28-year-old has three seasons remaining on a four-year contract he signed with Carolina on July 3, 2018. … Olli Maatta, D: The 24-year-old has won the Stanley Cup twice (2016, 2017) and had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games with the Penguins last season. … Andrew Shaw, F: The 27-year-old forward had an NHL career high in assists (28) and points (47) in 63 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season. … Ryan Carpenter, F: The 28-year-old agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Blackhawks on July 1 after he had an NHL career-high 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 68 games with the Vegas Golden Knights last season. … Marc Crawford, assistant coach: Crawford went 7-10-1 in 18 games as coach of the Ottawa Senators after he was hired to replace Guy Boucher on March 1. The 58-year-old won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. 

Video: Robin Lehner on his one-year deal with Blackhawks

 

Key departures

Cam Ward, G: He went 16-12-4 with a 3.67 GAA and .897 save percentage in 33 games (29 starts) last season. He is an unrestricted free agent. … Marcus Kruger, F: He had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 74 games last season before signing a two-year contract with ZSC of the Swiss National League on July 5. … Chris Kunitz, F: He had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 56 games last season and is an unrestricted free agent. … Dominik Kahun, F: He had 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games as a rookie last season. 

 

On the cusp

Dominik Kubalik, F: The 23-year-old had 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists) in 50 games with Ambri-Piotta of Swiss National League last season. He agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Chicago on May 29 and could be ready to join the lineup this season. … Anton Wedin, F: The 26-year-old had 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 32 games for Timra IK of Sweden's second-tier Allsvenskan league last season. He agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Blackhawks on May 23. ... Alexander Nylander, F: Injuries and inconsistency have held the 21-year-old back from an NHL roster spot. Acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on July 9, he had four points (two goals, two assists) in 12 games with the Sabres last season, the most he has played since being selected with the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. 

 

What they still need

To sign forward Brendan Perlini. The 23-year-old forward, who was acquired with forward Dylan Strome in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes for forward Nick Schmaltz on Nov. 25, had 21 points (14 goals, seven assists) in 68 games last season and is a restricted free agent.

Video: CHI@NSH: Perlini opens the scoring with quick shot

 

Fantasy focus

The Blackhawks ranked second in power-play percentage (26.8 percent) behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (27.6) from the Christmas break to the end of the regular season. Each member of the first unit, from elite forwards Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat, to fantasy waiver-wire studs Strome and Erik Gustafsson, had an NHL career-high in points. Last season's offensive surge came after a coaching change to Jeremy Colliton and an in-season trade for Strome, so fantasy owners should be licking their chops over what this power play could accomplish over a full season together. -- Pete Jensen

 Video: STL@CHI: Kane roofs gorgeous backhander on a break

 

Projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Jonathan Toews -- Andrew Shaw

Alex DeBrincat -- Dylan Strome -- Patrick Kane

Drake Caggiula -- Artem Anisimov -- Dylan Sikura

Dominik Kubalik -- Ryan Carpenter -- David Kampf

Duncan Keith -- Erik Gustafsson

Olli Maatta -- Connor Murphy

Calvin de Haan -- Brent Seabrook

Corey Crawford

Robin Lehner 

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