The Stanley Cup Final is well underway as it appears that the Red Wings are looking like they will repeat as Stanley Cup champions once again. We still have some unfinished business to take care of, so we’ll do a quick assessment of the Blackhawk players with fantasy significance and take a look at what could be in store for them next season.
Martin Havlat – The oft-injured band-aid boy certainly debunked his moniker this season as he managed to participate in all but two games this season. He finished off the post-season with 15 points in 16 playoff games and was certainly instrumental for the Blackhawks in their playoff run this season. He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but is currently entrenched in strong negotiations with Chicago GM Dave Tallon for a contract extension. My prediction is that he re-signs with Chicago at around the $5- $5.5 million per season and once again flirts with the point-per-game mark.
Brent Seabrook – Seabrook is certainly deserving of the five stars that I awarded him for these playoffs as he was a monster while averaging 26 minutes of ice-time in 17 playoff contests for the Blackhawks. He also led the team in power-play ice time while picking up 3:28 per contest on the man advantage. Seabrook is a bit of a tweener, meaning that he’s more of a stay-at-home defenseman, but does have offensive capabilities when he is called upon. Being paired up with Duncan Keith, the duo has certainly established themselves as one of the best shut down pairings in the league. With a solid performance this post-season this year, look for him to tally close to 40 points next year.
Patrick Kane – Kane finished the post-season with a team-high nine goals in 14 playoff contests. He also led all players, who had 20 SOG or more, in shooting percentage while connecting at a blistering rate of 26.5 percent. The only real blemish that Kane had on his record was his poor minus nine rating. With another season of experience under his belt, look for his overall minus 11 rating to improve next season while making a run at his first point-per-game season of his career.
Jonathan Toews – Toews had a terrific post-season as he finished with a team high 43 SOG. He averaged 2.38 SOG per contest during the regular season, but upped that to 2.53 during these playoffs. Toews does have a pretty decent career shooting percentage, so if he can maintain a 17 percent shooting percentage while averaging at the 2.53 SOG per contest rate, look for him to tally close to 40 goals next season.
Dave Bolland – Bolland certainly surprised many this post-season while tallying 12 points in 17 playoffs contests. He finished only three points shy of the team-leader Havlat. With his solid post-season it appears that Bolland has certainly cemented himself as the number two center behind Toews heading into next season. Look for him to make a solid run at 55 points next season.
Kris Versteeg – Very similar to the rest of the Blackhawk forwards, Versteeg did enough to get himself an honourable mention during these playoffs as he picked up 12 points in 17 contests for Chicago. He did a little bit of everything while contributing on the PIMs and SOG front. Last week I wrote a column regarding projections, so if we assume that he plays a similar role next year, as he did these playoffs, and we use the numbers that I posted last week (130 SOG, 16:13 TOI average) a reasonable projection for him next season would be around 50 points.
Dustin Byfuglien - Buffy certainly impressed me with his performance during the playoffs. He didn’t put up mind boggling numbers this post-season, but did exactly what was asked of him while creating traffic and paying the price in front of the net by distracting opposing goaltenders. He was out matched by his counterpart Tomas Holmstrom, but it appears that Buffy has found his niche in the NHL for the near future. If he can continue to produce alongside Kane, Toews or Havlat on the power-play look for him to be near the 45 point range next season.
Brian Campbell – Campbell posted 10 points in 17 playoff contests for the Blackhawks. A lot was expected from the offensive defenseman this season when he signed a lucrative contract with Chicago during the off-season. With the recent development of Cam Barker, Duncan Keith and the aforementioned Seabrook, there have been numerous rumours regarding Campbell being shipped off to another team during the off-season. His massive contract along with the current needs of the Blackhawks organization will certainly stymie all of the rumours that are going to pop up during the off-season. Look for Campbell to have another 45-50 point season with the Blackhawks next season.
Cam Barker – Barker took another step in his development this post-season as he picked up nine points in 17 playoffs contests this year. What’s also amazing is that he accomplished that feat while averaging less than 17 minutes per game during the playoffs. Barker was ranked second overall behind only Seabrook for power-play ice-time at 3:15 per contest for the Blackhawks. Chicago took their time with his development instead of rushing him to the NHL early on in his career, and it looks like it has done wonders for the former third overall pick from the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He ended up with the highest point per minute ice-time ratio amongst the Chicago blue-line during the playoffs. Look for him to be an integral part of the Chicago power-play unit next season while making a solid run at 50 points.
Duncan Keith – Keith didn’t have a terrible post-season but compared to the three other major blue-liners in Chicago he was by far the least productive. Keith finished with six points in 17 contests, while averaging 24:38 in ice-time per contest during these playoffs. He had a decent regular season when he tallied a career-high 44 points. I personally think that he reverts back towards his true stay-at-home self and drops back towards the 30-35 point mark next season.
Nikolai Khabibulin – I debated about whether to give Khabibulin a passing mark or a below average mark and in the end I just couldn’t justify giving him three stars with the mediocre stats that he posted during the playoffs. Of the goalies amongst the final eight teams in the playoffs, Khabi ranked dead last in goals against average and save percentage (2.93 and .898). If it wasn’t for the third-ranked 3.18 goals scored per game average fired by his offense, Khabibulin certainly wouldn’t have finished the post-season winning 53.3 percent of his contests. What’s interesting for next season is that despite having Cristobal Huet ready and willing to go as the number one, the Blackhawks’ management team may be considering re-signing Khabibulin as a fallback plan. Chicago is a great young up-and-coming team, so maybe he might be tempted to take a pay cut and strive for another Stanley Cup.
Andrew Ladd – I had big expectations for Ladd because he potted 49 points during the regular season, but was greatly disappointed when he tallied a whooping four points in 17 contests. One would wonder if the Blackhawks could have upset the Red Wings if Ladd had produced along the same pace as some of the players mentioned above? I’m seriously pondering if the former fourth overall player is on his way to becoming a bust, if he hasn’t been classified as one already. With his poor play this post-season you would probably think that he played himself out of a top-six role next season.
I just wanted to finish off by saying thanks for all the positive comments that were left in the comments section of last week’s column . Its comments like those that really make the fun of writing a column more enjoyable rather than being tedious. I’ll see you back here again next week.
Dobber's note: If you missed last week's column, you can find it here . Easily Ryan's best, and possibly one of the most helpful columns on this site of the past year.