Chicago Blackhawks

Buying or Selling Chicago Blackhawks Players' Hot Starts in 2013-14

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIOctober 15, 2013

Buying or Selling Chicago Blackhawks Players' Hot Starts in 2013-14

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    The Chicago Blackhawks haven't come out of the gates flying to start the 2013-14 NHL season—at least not compared to what they managed to do last year—but this Stanley Cup hangover appears to be a mild one.

    Sometimes the sluggishness can take a few weeks to wear off. While Chicago hasn't been lights out, they haven't been bad either. They're currently fourth in the Central Division with a 3-1-1 record and would be higher if it wasn't for the world-beating start of the Colorado Avalanche and the undefeated St. Louis Blues.

    If the 'Hawks know one thing, they know that a season isn't made or broken in the first 10 days (try telling that to the Buffalo Sabres). They know this is a marathon and not a sprint. That said, several Chicago players have started off hot or cold, and it will be interesting to see who comes on as the season progresses and who cools off.

     

    All stats appear courtesy of Chicago's official website unless otherwise noted.

Patrick Kane

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 5 GP, 4 G, 1 A, minus-3, 18 SOG

    Why He's "Hot": four goals in five games; averaging more than three shots a game.

    Buying or Selling the Hotness: Buying

     

    Heading into the 2013-14 season, we were of the mind that Patrick Kane was capable of winning his first Art Ross Trophy. So far, he hasn't made us look too foolish by maintaining a point-per-game average. He still looks dangerous every time he touches the puck and has been one of the most consistent 'Hawks to this point.

    He was on pace for his first 90-plus point season in 2012-13 and should put up those kinds of numbers this year. In fact, we're counting on him to do so. He's quietly maintained a spot among the league's top 10 goal scorers and will eventually surpass the likes of Lars Eller and Alexander Steen with a steady performance over the next few weeks.

     

Duncan Keith

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 5 GP, 0 G, 4 A, minus-2, 19 SOG

    Why He's "Hot": four assists in five games; generating a ton of shots.

    Buying or Selling the Hotness: Selling

     

    Duncan Keith is capable of posting a lot of points from the blue line, but not at this rate. He's four seasons removed from his best offensive campaign, and frankly, the 'Hawks don't look to him to score goals. That's what Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa are there to do.

    Chicago looks for Keith to make strong first passes out of the defensive zone to the talented forwards, and he does that quite well. While he's never been afraid to jump up into the play, we just don't think he has a 60-plus point campaign coming down the pipeline randomly in 2013-14.

    Anything could happen, but look for Keith to settle into his typical point-in-every-other-game flow soon.

Niklas Hjalmarsson

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    Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

    2013-14 Stats: 5 GP, 0 G, 4 A, plus-4

    Why He's "Hot": four assists in five games; outstanding in his own zone so far.

    Buying or Selling the Hotness: Selling

     

    Technically, we're only selling half of Niklas Hjalmarsson's hot start. While we fully expect him to continue to be a rock in the defensive end, we don't think he'll continue to crank out assists at his current rate.

    Consider the following: Prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, Hjalmarsson had played in 306 regular-season games for the 'Hawks. He posted 56 points over those games, which averages out to a point every five games or so.

    Being an offensive defenseman just isn't Hjalmarsson's game. While the points have been a plus for Chicago so far, don't expect him to keep up his current pace. His career high in points was 17, and while it appears that he'll breach that mark this season, he's not going to be a 50-point player from the back end.

    He will continue to put up an outstanding plus/minus rating while being one of the more steady stay-at-home guys in the NHL, though.

Jonathan Toews

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 5 GP, 2 G, 2 A, minus-1, 16 SOG

    Why He's "Hot": Near point-per-game pace; shooting a lot.

    Buying or Selling the Hotness: Buying

     

    Like our stance on Hjalmarsson, we're only buying half of Jonathan Toews' start. The points are going to keep coming for Captain Serious. The top-six forwards for Chicago have racked up a certifiable boatload of chances through the team's first five games, and they'll continue to be the motor for this team.

    What we're not buying is the plus/minus rating. Give it another game or two, and Toews will likely have things back on the plus side for good. He's too good without the puck to remain a minus-player, in case you hadn't noticed.

Brandon Saad

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    2013-14 Stats: 5 GP, 2 G, 2 A, plus-2, 8 SOG

    Why He's "Hot": 25 percent shooting percentage; strong plus/minus

    Buying or Selling the Hotness: Push

     

    Yeah, calling this a push is a bit of a cop out. Still, Chicago's top-nine forwards will continue to be in a bit of a flux until they iron out the the No. 2 center position, and where Brandon Saad falls when it's all said and done will very much influence his ability to continue to score.

    He hasn't been a go-to guy for the 'Hawks on any level in 2013-14, but there's no denying that the youngster has made the most of his chances. He's scoring 25 percent of the time he shoots the puck and is tied for the team lead in plus/minus among forwards.

    How Saad is utilized will influence whether he's able to continue his solid start of not.

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