Biases aside, it’s hard to fathom putting the Blackhawks in the last spot. However, their window slammed shut last season. It doesn’t mean they won’t gradually start building a contender again, but it’s not going to happen this quickly.
The problem the Blackhawks have is depth. They’re relying on unproven or inexperienced commodities that have to start carrying more of the load. They do have some bright, young stars like Alex DeBrincat. However, the Blackhawks need more than just one of the younger stars to show up.
Then you have the questions at goaltender. It’s still Corey Crawford‘s net, but he has to come back strong after missing over half of the regular season this past year. If Crawford returns in top form, then the Blackhawks might be a long shot for a playoff spot. You need stability in the net, and the Blackhawks don’t have that currently.
The Blackhawks have a lot of great talent that will keep developing. I just can’t put them ahead of any other team in a ridiculously stacked Central Division. If everything falls in place for them, their veteran firepower led by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will at least allow them to make a slight improvement from their abysmal 76-point total from last season. Not good enough in the Central.