Monday, the Blackhawks introduced two of their key offseason additions, Dan Carcillo and Andrew Brunette, to the media. While Carcillo got most of the attention of the beat writers, bloggers, and talk show hosts in Chicago, Brunette will likely be the most important, and arguably the most valuable addition to the Blackhawks' roster this season.
Brunette brings a package of grit and skill the Hawks have lacked for some time. They were able to pry it from Dustin Byfuglien in the playoffs, and Troy Brouwer and Tomas Kopecky tried to fill the role, but none of those guys have done it as consistently and as long as Brunette has.
Since becoming a full time NHL player in the 1998-99 season, Brunette has missed all of 12 games, and he's played in all but 3 in his last 9 seasons. The guys is tough as nails, and is willing to plant himself in front of the opposition's goalie and shovel garbage. He has a knack for playing in the tough areas. "I've been able to find a way to get to the spots I need to get to," Brunette told the media. "I think I can get to certain areas and I'm as good as anybody in certain spots." His willingness will make an already solid powerplay better. More importantly, if he's playing on the top line with Jonathan Toews, as many assume he will, he will allow Toews to play more of a perimeter/behind the net style. Too often, Toews has been counted on to bring the grit to whatever line he's on. While he will continue to play that way, it will be Brunette who spends most of his time getting the cross checks and slashes in front of the net.
Look for Brunette to score anywhere from 50-60 points, with 65 being a real possibility with real time on the top line with Toews and Kane. Today, Brunette was an afterthought. After this season, he could be a household name.