Hockey gambling fans saw the Hawks end a near 50-year draught between sips from Lord Stanley’s Cup but will see a NHL gambling commodity that is minus key players from 2010.
Sports-Gambling opened with Chicago as a +500 choice to win the 2011 Stanley Cup and as a +200 selection to win the Western Conference.
Thanks to the National Hockey League salary cap structure, the Blackhawks had no choice but to let Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, Colin Fraser, and John Madden all go.
Niemi was the goaltender for the Stanley Cup run and Byfuglien had several clutch moments and key goals in last year’s playoff run and payouts with the NHL odds. While key stars remain in Chicago the question remains whether or not the Blackhawks can overcome the loss of so much depth.
The Blackhawks ranked 3rd in the NHL for goal scoring last year and the main nucleus remains in place led by Patrick Kane, who had 30 goals last year to lead the team. Patrick Sharp, who had 25 goals, Jonathan Toews, who had 25, and Marian Hossa, who had 24, are all back as well as the Blackhawks will not lack in offensive firepower.
The blue line is bolstered by Norris Trophy winning defenseman Duncan Keith, who will be joined by stalwarts Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell, who adds an offensive presence at the blue line.
Niklas Hjalmarsson returns after getting a big payday to add further defensive depth for Chicago with the hockey lines. All in all Chicago’s top two defensive pairings are as good as can be found in the NHL.
Chicago will face a big question mark in goal as they not only lost Niemi but also backup Cristobal Huet. The new tandem between the pipes will be Mary Turco, who arrives from the Dallas Stars, and minor league callup Corey Crawford.
The aforementioned defensive unit should give Turco plenty of support, which could serve to jumpstart his career.
Joel Quenneville has evolved into one of the best and most respected coaches in all of hockey gambling. Stan Bowman is a proven general manager. The duo reassures handicappers that the Blackhawks will remain in good hands for 2010-11.