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The defending Stanley Cup champions will be the favorites to lift the best trophy in sports heading into next season because general manager Stan Bowman has done a fine job of keeping most of his 2013 roster intact over the first few days of free agency.
He re-signed center Michal Handzus, winger Bryan Bickell and defenseman Michal Rozsival, and he wisely refused to overpay to keep winger Viktor Stalberg and backup goaltender Ray Emery.
The Hawks are led by captain Jonathan Toews, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Kane, the best defensive pairing in the NHL featuring Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and an elite goalie in Corey Crawford. It will be difficult for journalists and fans to pick against the Blackhawks when it's time to make predictions for the 2013-14 season.
Not very many teams in the salary-cap era (2005-present) have been able to assemble a roster with the right collection of veteran leaders and young talent, but unlike most clubs, the Blackhawks consistently make the right free-agent signings and dominate the draft, especially in the later rounds.
If Chicago is able to stay healthy, it will have a great chance to start a legitimate dynasty, which the NHL has not seen since Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also a credentialed writer at the 2011 and 2013 Stanley Cup Final, as well as the 2013 NHL draft. All quotes obtained first hand.