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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Illinihockey, Apr 9, 2015.
Sikura signed today
So Hawks need to lose out to have any shot of moving up. Good chance they do that as the Jets are way better than the Hawks and the Blues and Avs are in playoff contention.
Fuck this season but Debrincat is the fucking truth
Debrincat and Schmaltz are good news, that’s for sure.
Can’t shake the fact that Toews and Keith are the engine and has too many miles on it these days.
Think we can pull one or two years with great Crawford performances.
Just have to pray the Hawks somehow win the lottery. Deserve it after all this franchise has suffered through
Draft pick will fall between 7th and 10th (pre-lottery) depending on what happens the next 2 days. Currently sitting 8th
yall's video crew did an awesome job with this
By Scott Powers Jun 8, 2018
The Blackhawks will make a splash or two this offseason.
That’s not unexpected with them missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, season ticket renewals down and TV ratings dropping. The Blackhawks and general manager Stan Bowman probably need to be aggressive to get back on track.
So, what might they do?
The most notable rumor so far has come from The Athletic’s Craig Custance, who was told by a source the Blackhawks could be in play for John Tavares. That would take some financial gymnastics for the Blackhawks, but it shows what type of splash they’re looking to make.
Here are some of the things I’ve heard about the Blackhawks from sources over the last few weeks:
1. The Blackhawks have talked to the Carolina Hurricanes about defenseman Justin Faulk and goalie Scott Darling.
The Blackhawks obviously need defensive help. The Athletic’s Tyler Dellow broke down the Blackhawks’ defenseman issues earlier this week.
“They’re not making the playoffs unless they do something,” a league source said this week. “They need a defenseman or two for sure.”
Faulk would definitely help. His production and shooting percentage were down this past season, but he still scored eight goals and registered 31 points. He also had a 55.14 Corsi percentage and an expected goal differential of plus-8.33, according to Corsica. Those numbers would easily put him among the Blackhawks’ defenseman leaders.
Faulk could also alleviate some of the Blackhawks’ power-play troubles. He has scored as few as three power-play goals and as many as 12 over the past four seasons. Even with the three goals, that would be more than any Blackhawks defenseman in the last two seasons. Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with 10 power-play points last season. Faulk had 19.
Faulk is also a right-handed shot, another need for the Blackhawks in a top-4 role. The Blackhawks tried an assortment of right-handed shots and even some left-handed shots in top-4 roles last season, and none of them worked to perfection. Faulk could take some of the pressure off Brent Seabrook, Connor Murphy and Jan Rutta, the other right-handed possibilities.
The Blackhawks should be able to afford Faulk, who has a $4,833,333 cap hit. If the cap goes up to $80 million, the Blackhawks are expected to have around $10 million available. They’ll have even more if they trade Marian Hossa’s contract ($5.275 million cap hit) or utilize long-term injured reserve.
Faulk, 26, has two years left on his contract — a timeline that could work well for the Blackhawks. With Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell in the pipeline, the Blackhawks have some potential high-end right-handed shots on the way.
What would Faulk cost? One source said the price is high and that the Hurricanes are currently overvaluing their assets. That could change in time. The Blackhawks wouldn’t likely trade away the No. 8 pick, but maybe there’s a package for the No. 27 pick and a prospect.
There’s also a chance the Blackhawks and Hurricanes work together on more of a blockbuster deal. A source said Darling’s name has been mentioned in conversations.
Darling, who is 29, was traded from the Blackhawks to the Hurricanes after the 2016-17 season. The Hurricanes made him their No. 1 goalie and gave him a four-year, $16.6 million contract. But Darling had a rough season, finishing with an .888 save percentage in 43 games.
The Blackhawks’ goaltending situation is unknown. Corey Crawford hasn’t played since December, but the Blackhawks believe he’ll be back starting for them in the fall and will return to form. Even if that does happen, there’s an uncertainty about their No. 2 goalie. Anton Forsberg and J-F Berube were inconsistent last season and would be risky to bring back, and Collin Delia probably isn’t ready for the NHL yet.
Darling would definitely be a risk too. While he was exceptional for the Blackhawks for three seasons, his 2017-18 season does cast some doubt. Just because he was good in the past for the Blackhawks doesn’t mean he’ll be good in the future for them. The Blackhawks have experienced that with other players in recent years.
As always, for all things goaltenders, I turned to The Athletic contributor Cat Silverman for her thoughts.
“I think a move back to Chicago would be the dream scenario,” Silverman said of Darling. “He had an incredibly tough year with Carolina, and if the team wants a fresh start with entirely new faces, I think no one on either side would really have hard feelings. He’s clearly thrived in Chicago before, working with Jimmy Waite and working behind Crawford, although both Eddie Lack and Anton Khudobin needed a bounce-back year after playing in Carolina to get their games back to where they were. If that’s the case with Darling as well, the Blackhawks could find themselves in a difficult situation while they wait out his return to form and try to win games; they can’t afford to have too many ‘down’ games this year, especially after the final results last year.
“A lot of what I saw from the Hurricanes seemed to be poor risk-taking deployment in front of their goaltenders over the last few years, which resulted in tanked save percentages for every goaltender that appeared in their system during Bill Peters’ tenure. Darling, like the others, tried to do too much to compensate for the team’s system inefficiencies, so a move back to Chicago would require heavy emphasis on re-simplifying his game. But he likes it there, the fans love him, and it could be a forgiving place to bounce back.”
Darling’s $4.15 million cap hit isn’t ideal for the Blackhawks, but it isn’t impossible to meet even if they were to bring on other players. The Blackhawks might even be able to get the Hurricanes to eat some of it and/or find a way to include Hossa’s contract in the deal.
2. Sticking with goalie, Carter Hutton could be a free-agent target for the Blackhawks. Hutton is expected to become an unrestricted free agent.
As previously mentioned, the Blackhawks need a No. 2 goalie. They probably want that goalie to be able to be a No. 1 if necessary, too, considering Crawford’s health issue this past season and the fact that he hasn’t played more than 59 games in any season.
Hutton would be the logical goalie to assume that role. Since leaving the Blackhawks after the 2012-13 season — he played in one NHL game for them — he’s developed into a solid No. 2. He has started 113 games over the last five seasons for the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues.
Last season, Hutton was especially productive in that role for the Blues. He started 26 games, played in 32 games and had three shutouts and a .931 save percentage.
Hutton, 32, will likely look for a pay bump after having a $1.125 million cap hit the past two seasons, but he wouldn’t break the bank for the Blackhawks. According to Matt Cane’s projections, Hutton should have about a $3.1 million cap hit on a two-year deal.
Silverman also weighed in on Hutton.
“I think the team would need to be willing to give him some playing time to make that a happy fit,” Silverman said. “He’s a fantastic 1B option for a team, but he’s had trouble coming in cold or after weeks on the bench and putting up big games in the past. Establishing a good rhythm finds him playing his best game, so he’d make a fantastic option if Crawford needs heavily limited starts next year. But if he’s fully ready to go, that may not be the best fit out there.
“The biggest problem with Forsberg this past year, though, was that the team was trying to adjust and grow on defense while a new NHL goaltender was trying to develop his game and establish consistency — something the Blackhawks blue line didn’t provide much insulation for. A huge benefit to bringing on Hutton is that the team would know exactly what they’re going to get. With a relatively well-established game and years of NHL experience under his belt, he’d need less support up front than Forsberg did (or someone like Berube or Delia would need if they were brought up). If the Blackhawks aren’t confident that the blue line can be fixed in time, even swapping Hutton out and sending Forsberg to someone like St. Louis would be a good fit.”
3. Forward James van Riemsdyk could be a long shot to sign with the Blackhawks due to cap constraints, but the two sides are expected to talk.
Defense and goaltending are the glaring needs, but the Blackhawks will likely explore all ways to improve. Van Riemsdyk could be an option.
For one, van Riemsdyk could solidify the second line. There’s still no proof coach Joel Quenneville will give Alex DeBrincat the chance to play with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz. The Blackhawks and Kane suffered last season because of the rotating left wing on the second line. Van Riemsdyk could provide the net-front presence Kane and Schmaltz lack.
Van Riemsdyk could also be that presence on the power play. Artem Anisimov cashed in on opportunities there this past season, but the Blackhawks didn’t possess any consistent net-front players. Van Riemsdyk was stellar in that role for the Toronto Maple Leafs and scored 11 of his 36 goals this past season on the power play.
Van Riemsdyk, 29, is due a raise. He had a $4.25 million cap hit the past six seasons. Cane projects van Riemsdyk to receive a $5.3 million cap hit on a three-year deal. If the Blackhawks can utilize Hossa’s contract effectively, they could be able to add van Riemsdyk, a top-4 defenseman and a No. 2 goalie. Honestly, the Blackhawks could probably bring aboard players with a combined cap hit of $15 million or more if they move around pieces just right.
All of this talk about the Hawks looking to trade for a goalie is scaring the shit out of me. If Crawford can't return, just blow this thing the fuck up because its over.
It seems that best case scenario is he returns but is limited and needs to be handled with white gloves.
If he's a shell of his former self i'm with you its time to rebuild this shit.
Because Scott Darling isn't leading this team to a cup
yea seeing that Mckenzie report on trying to get in on Grubauer threw me off. Would be hard to replace peak Crow.
Want to see what Stan can do with the Hurricanes sell off
hope that pick is an asset to be moved, otherwise I dont get not drafting a Forward
Because our d are dogshit
Well no shit, but he’s not fixing that next year or perhaps in what little is left of the window. If he is contributing next year then great we killed that pick. Otherwise makes more sense moving him for a Defenseman that can help win before the window closes.
The window is closed.
Also free agency is for finding immediate help, not the draft
If Crawford can't go next year and Cam Ward is the plan, just blow it up
Caw Ward got like a 3m cap hit
Kunitz got a 1m Cap Hit (hate that guy but whatever, can bury most of his contract)
Brandon Manning also signed from the Flyers, 2.25
seems like Stan will try to max out Hossa's LTIR with an inseason move
Seems like Stan is aiming to fire Q by December
I doubt that is gonna happen... I think Stan understands where this roster is talent wise. Hard to pin this shit on Q
You can fire the roster. I think one or both of them will be gone after this season
Hossa is about to get moved to Arizona. Greatest free agent signing in Chicago history
This is a really good move for the hawks. Curious where they spend this 8.5m
Seems like the Hawks are closing in on a trade for either Skinner or Pacioretty
Reading about this a few minutes ago after seeing some odd twitter posts by current and former Hawks, Then the statement from the Hawks. This sucks.
FYI -- the ticketmaster presale code is ORIGINAL6
So Crawford said he's still not fully healthy... but is getting closer.
Man we are beyond fucked this season.
Yup. It’s about to be a rebuild
Keith is on life support and honestly I'm not sure he's a top 4 any longer. Seabrook is stealing money... They should've found a way to unload that contract this offseason.
This is going to be unpopular, but I want him to retire in a Blackhawks sweater.
Seabrook? He’s pretty awful at this point with a 7m cap hit over the next 6 years. Unless he’s been playing hurt we are tottally fucked with this deal. Bowman has got to admit he screwed up those extension and cut bait on both those guys.
I get wanting to see guys who have done so much for our team finish out with us. I just draw a line at looking at 6 more years at a high cap hit
I was talking about Keith.
Ahh yeah well I’m holding out hope he rebounds. Because last season was ugly.
By Scott Powers Jul 31, 2018 9
Joel Quenneville’s lineups can be quite temporary.
That said, one of the more interesting things to ask Quenneville at the Blackhawks convention is what he’s thinking about the upcoming season’s lineup.
This year was no different, as Quenneville threw out the possibility of making Brandon Saad, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick a line.
“We talked about maybe Saader plays with Kaner and Schmaltzy as an option,” he said said.
The line played together 125 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time last season, according to Corsica. The line had a 49.38 Corsi percentage, was on the ice for four goals for and three goals against and an expected goals-for percentage of 49.47.
Kane and Saad didn’t have great chemistry last season, but they have in the past. During the 2013-14 season, they had a 56.52 Corsi percentage and plus-11 goal differential together.
With Saad looking to have a bounce-back season, playing him with Schmaltz and Kane could pay off for the Blackhawks.
1. The thought of Saad playing on that line also indicates Quenneville is probably still against playing Alex DeBrincat with Schmaltz and Kane.
Quenneville did mention the possibility of DeBrincat with Jonathan Toews on a line.
“Maybe Jonny, Cat, somebody,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see.”
Quenneville also threw out a number of other names, including Dylan Sikura, Dominik Kahun, Victor Ejdsell and Artem Anisimov.
“There’s still some things we’ll sort out,” Quenneville said. “Whenever you got them in pencil between now and training camp, it’s always something. Something’s got to change as well. We’ll keep mixing them up and sorting them out now.
“Because I know last year it seemed like we kept on putting different lineups after every single game, and it’s almost like, OK, we tried a variety of things and not very successful. When we’re talking about it, okay, let’s try it. I’m not sure we were convinced. Right now, I think there’s probably looking forward to it and having more discussions as a staff knowing that we’ll have a pretty good idea before it starts. But however you start, it’s not necessarily etched in stone that’s going how you to start in October.”
2. One of the things keeping Schmaltz from being an elite center is faceoffs. Of the 114 players who took at least 600 faceoffs last season, Schmaltz had the second-worst winning percentage at 40.1.
Schmaltz wants to get better in that area and believes the way to do it is by adding strength.
“I think a lot of it’s just the strength, getting stronger whether it’s my wrist, my upper-body strength,” Schmaltz said. “Stuff like that, I think that’s got a big deal to do with it is the strength part because I think I got the quick enough stick and hands to win the draw, but I think eventually the strength overtakes the most part.”
Schmaltz said he has put on some muscle so far this offseason.
“I feel a lot stronger,” Schmaltz said. “Weight-wise, I’m only a couple pounds, but I just feel more compact and strong, more powerful, I’d say. … I’ve just been working out in Madison, got a good program going on there with a lot of U-W alumni, so it’s going well. Just been following the protocol that we’ve been going through. It feels real good, and I feel like I’m moving in the right direction.”
3. The convention is the one opportunity each year we get to talk to the Blackhawks’ assistant coaches. Goalie coach Jimmy Waite discussed Corey Crawford on Friday. Kevin Dineen also touched on power play:
On his preference to play four forwards and one defensemen or three forwards and two defensemen on the power play
“I think it always varies. I think personnel is always an issue that you’re discussing within our staff and our management group that we’re always talking about personnel. That’s an area we’re going to continue to talk about and find the chemistry that’s going to get us to a place considering our power play was an issue last year. It’s an area we have to step up. We know that. We got to put the right people out there whether you throw two defensemen out there. You got that big bomb that Seabs [Brent Seabrook] can bring. It can be a very valuable asset on there. You got some new faces that are coming in that could really make a difference. You got a guy like Chris Kunitz. He’s won before. He’s got great character. He can fill roles. Those are certainly areas that are under digression and keep trying to improve on.”
On finding Saad a role on the power play
“Saader, you know what with that skill, one thing we don’t have an issue with on our power play is our entries and our breakouts. There are so many times when I first arrived here Joel and I had discussions, he says, well you know what there’s a lot of different looks we can try, we can roll out a lot of different things we can do, but if you get the puck to Kaner or [Marian] Hossa, you’re going to have good success getting the puck in. I think that was always true. I felt like that was true with Brandon as well last year. His ability to carry the puck and get the puck in is a real strength of his. Finding where he could be in the power play, yeah, we had some challenges there last year. We tried him in different roles. For us to have success, he needs to be a quality part of our power play.
Corey Crawford meets with the media for the first time since February. (Scott Powers/The Athletic)
4. I wrote a column last weekend about the potential of Crawford being ready for camp and the season opener. Part of the difficulty is there’s so little information, so you’re trying to work with what you have.
What I didn’t include in the column were two interesting things said by Quenneville and Bowman at the convention. There may not be anything to them, but, there certainly could be.
“I think it’s great that we do have his experience,” Quenneville said of Cam Ward. “Can take a load whatever kind of games, the number of games you want to pledge to him at the beginning of the year. Whether you say he’s going to play 30, 40, you know he can play as many games as you need. He’s excited coming to a new organization. He’s thinking whatever happens, happens as far as the net. I think last year started in maybe that second role and then obviously assumed a lot more net as it went along. We’ll see how it plays out, but certainly they’ll make a nice tandem. They’ll work together. They can help them push each other in a good way.”
Quenneville was including Crawford in that tandem. The idea Ward could play 40 games, though, is a bit surprising. Again, we’ll see how this plays out.
I also asked Bowman how he foresees Anton Forsberg, Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the net with the Rockford IceHogs this season.
“That’s too early to tell on any of that,” Bowman said. “It doesn’t really do any good to map out who’s going to be doing what when things change by the week. We just sort of take that as it comes. It’s a merit-based system. At the end of the day, it’s develop in Rockford, but you want to win as well. If there’s goalies that are really going, you’re going to try to let them roll with it, understand that everyone gets their ice time. How the rotation will exactly work? That will play itself out.”
It is usually strange for a team to carry five goalies under NHL contract, but this apparently has everything to do with Crawford’s uncertainty. If Crawford is able to go to start the season, it’ll be interesting to see how the goalie situation shakes out. Forsberg could get claimed if he’s placed on waivers. He also might not. If not, it’s ideal to have three goalies in Rockford.
5. Whether Henri Jokiharju can be assigned to the AHL this upcoming season has yet to be definitively stated by anyone.
A source told me the Portland Winterhawks weren’t going to make a fuss over it if it were to happen because the organization was happy with its two new European import draft picks. Now it’s unclear if the Winterhawks will have a say. The CHL may just want to enforce the rule.
“We do have two Euros but not sure if Henri is eligible for the AHL,” Winterhawks general manager and coach Mike Johnston said. “If Chicago and Henri believe it would be best for him to have another year in junior we would definitely have him back.”
Jokiharju’s agent has said Jokiharju signed a pro contract with Tappara in Finland before he was drafted by the Winterhawks. If that’s the case, Jokiharju would be on loan to Portland and could be eligible for the AHL as a 19-year-old.
Bowman didn’t have an exact answer at the convention.
“It’s not so much clarification on our end,” Bowman said. “We understand there’s that CHL agreement. He’s drafted out of there. That’s where the confusion comes in. Some people say he was drafted out of there. Other people say he was loaned there, drafted out of Finland. But until we get to that moment in time, we’re just going to follow the NHL’s direction on that. That only comes into play when he’s not in Chicago. We’re not really focused on that right now.”
Jokiharju probably doesn’t need another season in the OHL. He might not be NHL ready either. The AHL could be the perfect starting point. But if the NHL determines he can’t be assigned to the AHL, the Blackhawks may have to make a difficult decision.
6. During the weekend’s media availability, I found a few minutes to speak with Matthew Highmore.
Highmore, who is 22, is an intriguing prospect because he scored 24 goals with the Rockford IceHogs in his first pro year last season. But that offense didn’t follow him to the NHL, where he had two points in 13 games. He could be someone to watch this season. Below is our conversation:
Scott Powers: What did you take from last season? How do you build on that?
Matthew Highmore: I think for me I learned a ton. The biggest thing for me is consistency. It’s the biggest thing these days. Everybody has a lot of skill, a lot of talent. Consistency, work ethic in your play, mental preparation day in and day out, is the biggest thing I took away from it and trying to implement in my daily routine this summer.
SP: What was the difference between going from the AHL to the NHL?
Highmore: Obviously the speed is the biggest difference. Speed and just the quality of players is 10, 15 percent better. You make one mistake, it’s in the back of your net, so you have to be sharp at all time.
SP: It seemed like there were chances for you offensively in the NHL, but they just didn’t click as they had with the IceHogs. When you evaluate your goal-scoring and translating it to the NHL, is that a matter of fine-tuning something?
Highmore: Yeah, like you said, I feel like I had a good amount of chances and looks where I could have capitalized. Obviously, everybody wants to score more goals, but I thought for me if you continue to do the right things and get your chances, they’re going to go in. This summer for me is kind of fine-tuning, making sure when I get a chance, I bury down on it and put it in the back of the net.
SP: When you look at this roster, I assume you’re paying attention to who’s getting moved and where there’s potential openings. There could be a couple openings. Do you enter camp with the mindset that anything’s possible and you could earn yourself a spot?
Highmore: Yeah, I think, honestly, any year you go into a camp, it’s a fresh start. You want to be able to prove yourself again, show your worth. Going into camp this year, I’m very excited about it. I realize I have to build on what happened last year. I think I’ve had a good summer for it. I’m excited for the challenge kind of thing. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
SP: What have you been doing this summer?
Highmore: I’ve been in Halifax at home, just training, just doing the little things. This summer I’ve taken the same approach, but I’ve added a couple things, such as just consistently shooting more pucks in the garage. I think the little things separate a lot of people. I’ve just been doing that as much as I can. Yeah, it’s been a pretty good summer especially with my trainer Alexi Pianosi. He does a great job. It’s been good.
7. I attended a handful of panels at the convention on Saturday. The highlights of Rocky Wirtz’s panel included some honest thoughts about former general manager Bob Pulford.
Tony Esposito, who was also on the panel, was asked about the previous fractured relationship with former players and the Blackhawks. This was the exchange:
Esposito: It was no secret it was Pulford. He was a different kind of guy.
Wirtz: Anybody who made you buy your own shampoo, it speaks for itself.
Esposito: He was different, boy. He didn’t want anything to do with anybody. He probably…the best word I can describe him is he didn’t like anybody. That’s probably the…
Bob Verdi: That’s more than one word.
Esposito: I edited one word.
Verdi: We’re on a seven-second delay, so.
Wirtz: It’s funny John McDonough told me a good story about Mike Gapski, the trainer. So, it was one of John’s first days on the job, sitting at his desk, Gapper comes up with an invoice. John looks at it and says, ‘This is an invoice for tape.’ He said, ‘Yes, Mr. Pulford approves every invoice even for 10 rolls of tapes.’ John said, ‘Well, it’s a new day, Gapper. You can approve your own invoices for tape from now on.
Bob Verdi is shown on the screens during a panel on Saturday. (Scott Powers/The Athletic)
8. Verdi, who was the moderator, teed up a question about Chicago’s amusement tax for Wirtz. For anyone has been following Wirtz’s interviews as of late, that was no surprise. He has been outspoken about the tax.
“I’m not really sure I’m welcomed at City Hall,” Wirtz said. “But everyone that comes to the United Center it’s 12 percent. It’s nine percent for the city and three percent for the county. And then, the city just raised the amusement tax for concerts to 10 1/2 percent. I told City Hall I think it’s something that it’s a fan tax. Most people don’t realize it’s 12 percent off the top. Unfortunate you fans are stuck with it.
“At concerts, those promoters aren’t looking at dollars. They’re looking at pennies. And they’re very welcome to go to Rosemont, they’re very welcome to go to Tinley Park, they’re very welcome to go to the new building in Milwaukee, they can go to outside music venues in Wisconsin, and it’s going to have its effect.
“Selfishly, Jerry Reinsdorf and my father built the United Center with their own money, and you get taxed and it’s like death by a thousand cuts. All the traffic monitors you see around the United Center, we get a bill from the city. All the security that we have, the United Center has to pay. And I said, I don’t mind paying on taxes, but what do you get for it? And you get that blank stare because you get nothing in return.”
Not everyone is against the tax, as this Chicago Sun-Times editorial explains.
9. The conversation moved from the city’s taxes to what Wirtz has done for the neighborhood with the addition of the community rink.
Wirtz and Esposito talked about how the neighborhood had changed over the years.
“You have a summer league and folks were telling me last night there were a thousand people there on a Wednesday night to come and watch these players play in a summer league,” Wirtz said. “It’s really something. Now we talk about the United Center, it’s truly a campus. And what it’s done to urban renewal the last 25 years. I mean 25 years ago, you’d never see anyone walking down Damen or Madison street unless they wanted to get shot.”
Esposito said, “I remember in the ’70s when you’d come to the game, it was scary around there. When you parked outside there where the security is, you parked say across the street, and some young guy would come up to you and say, ‘I’ll watch your car if you give me $5.’ Usually you’d give them money because otherwise they’d kick your fender in or something. So, it was really scary around that area. They bought all the land up and they cleared it all out and now it’s amazing. This whole community’s coming back.”
10. That panel was followed by one about hockey operations and included Bowman, Norm Maciver, Al MacIsaac and Mark Bernard.
The panel was mostly about their positions and what they do, but Bowman did touch on this past season.
“Obviously wasn’t the season we hoped for, disappointed in the way it played out,” Bowman said. “At the end of the year, you try to analyze how you can be better individually. As a team, sometimes it’s personnel, sometimes you need different players, sometimes it’s trying to work with the players you have a little bit differently. We’ve had discussions with our coaches how we can try change some things up as we head into next season.
“Each year’s different. The team next season is not going to be compared to last year because we’re hoping to do things differently. So, we’re hoping to get more out of players that were here, and the new players that have come in are going to bring something different to the table.
“At the end of day, we need to be better, and that’s our focus. We’re excited about what’s to come the upcoming season. We’re looking for some players internally to show some growth and development and take their games to the next level.”
11. Panel moderator John Wiedeman caught Maciver by surprise when he asked about the possibility of the Blackhawks acquiring Erik Karlsson.
“But to actually enter that set of circumstances, what comes through your mind if in fact that conversation ever comes up among you guys?” Wiedeman asked.
Maciver replied with a laugh, “I don’t know if we can have that conversation here, John. I don’t want to get in trouble. Well, obviously he’s a great hockey player, and you know he’s property of the Ottawa Senators, so we can’t technically talk about him in this situation. What they end up doing with him, that’ll be their decision.”
When Maciver finished, MacIsaac jokingly said, “Great answer, Norm.”
12. In my opinion, the convention hasn’t been the same since the Blackhawks changed the format for fan questions at the panels.
Fans used to stand in a line, walk up to a microphone and ask whatever they wanted. That hasn’t been the case over the last four years. Now fans write down their questions, and a few are selected and asked by the moderator.
The new format eliminates fan interaction, any questions the Blackhawks may not want to answer and the spontaneity and often humor of the unknown.
At the hockey operations’ panel, you would have expected a few fans to question some of the moves the Blackhawks have made in recent years or this offseason. Instead, these were the questions that made it through the Blackhawks’ screening:
What does the mental skills coach do?
What is the difference in today’s defensemen to one’s in Maciver’s playing days?
Would the Blackhawks consider holding an exhibition game or practice at the Indy Fuel’s facility?
Which IceHogs player from last season has the best shot of being with the Blackhawks this season?
What role has Bowman had in helping launch a Division I hockey program at Illinois?
The questions were fine and some were interesting, but they weren’t what you’d expect if fans were given the opportunity to ask Bowman and company what went wrong last season, how Crawford’s doing or anything else. Crawford’s name wasn’t mentioned in the front office or John McDonough’s panels.
13. McDonough’s panel did include some more insight into his thoughts on where things went wrong last season and what they’re doing to fix that.
One fan question was about McDonough’s current goal for the Blackhawks.
“Our current goal as an organization is for our team,” McDonough said. “The first thing we have to do is be a playoff team. And when we are a playoff team, you got to be in that group to position yourself to make a deep run and ultimately win the Stanley Cup. So every year going into the season, our goal is to win the Stanley Cup. But you’ve got to get into the playoffs first and it’s a tough conference, it’s a tough division, and we have to get through that.
“But from an organizational standpoint, keep raising the bar of what are expectations are, making sure the experience whether it’s online, whether it’s on the radio, whether it’s on television, whether it’s in the arena is so unique and so enticing and something you’re proud to be a Blackhawks fan for a variety of different reasons. But there’s many tentacles. We’re proud of our social media group, which is ultimately the greatest beacon that we have. We’re proud of what happens with our organization. We have training camp festival where we’re selling out practices and this wonderful convention. But these are all tentacles to our one goal which is to win the Stanley Cup.”
14. McDonough was also asked about handling the adversity of last season. It’s one of the few times I’ve heard the Blackhawks admit trading Teuvo Teravainen was possibly a mistake.
“I love to tell you I deal with it well,” McDonough said. “I can be quiet and solemn. We’ve had some tough days at the United Center. We’ve had some days in our suite, home games, road games, where we kind of twist and turn and try to figure it out and use everything possible to try to steer the team to win.
“I can tell you this: this group is doing everything they possibly can to succeed. There is a chance that maybe this past season, which we all endured, maybe this was a blessing in disguise, maybe this was a wakeup call, maybe we needed this. This might have been the Blackhawks have been riding high now for nine or 10 years, you go to the Western Conference finals five times, you win three Stanley Cups, you make the playoffs nine years in a row, things didn’t go our way. This is a game of bounces and caroms and posts and ghosts, and if you have injuries and things happen that are completely out of your control. Bryan Bickell, completely out of our control, then when we move Bryan, we move Teuvo Teravainen. You hate to see what happened to Marian Hossa. Unfortunately, Marian’s no longer part of the organization. He was moved on. You can’t control these things.
“However, every organization faces adversity. We’re not the only organization in sports that has injuries. So we can’t look at it, that’s just on us. But it was certainly a wakeup call and it was addressed internally. But I have all the faith in the world in our hockey people and Stan and Joel and their respective staffs and what [Jay Blunk’s] people have done with the in-game entertainment, from a marketing standpoint and the sponsors and the relationships that I’m really excited about the future and what’s going to happen going forward.”
The Bickell comment seemed a bit off to me. While it’s awful what Bickell has gone through, the Blackhawks should never have given him that contract. He shouldn’t have been offered a four-year, $16 million deal even after his stellar play in the 2013 playoffs. He was a third-line winger who could occasionally elevate his game. There was enough proof of that at that point. The Blackhawks probably should have figured out a way to eat the final year of Bickell’s contract instead of trading Teravainen.
Fans stand to welcome Corey Crawford at a panel on Saturday. (Scott Powers/The Athletic)
15. McDonough discussed why he believes the Blackhawks have given some of their recent contracts.
“I have great respect for our hockey operations people,” McDonough said. “They have a real difficult job because we’re playing in a salary cap era. You have a finite amount of money to spend. You got to pay your superstar players the requisite amount they deserve. On our roster, we have four mortal-lock players that are going to go to the Hall of Fame in addition to a head coach. That’s going to happen, so you have to pay those players. Every decision our hockey operations group makes, there’s got to be a lot of finesse. It’s trying to weave the right players in.”
16. McDonough also had an interesting idea on how he’d like to change the draft system for all major sports.
“There’s one change I’d love to see not just the NHL, but I would like to see all major sports embrace,” he said. “I don’t like the draft setup. I don’t like necessarily that if you finish with the worst record in the NFL or the NBA or Major League Baseball or the NHL you automatically pick first. I think it should be random. I don’t’ think there should be any reward for tanking. I think every team should have the opportunity that if you finish with the best record and you somehow pick that lottery ball and you pick first, that’s just a roll of the dice. But I’d change that system where you don’t automatically get the best player because you have the worst record. I think it would make a more even playing field.”
17. Going back to the front office panel, the answer to the question about the IceHogs player who could make the jump to the NHL was notable.
“Well, we have a couple guys who are good candidates,” Bowman said. “I think on the back end you have [Carl] Dahlstrom and [Gustav] Forsling, were both guys who played in Chicago last year, so maybe that’s not a surprise. If you’re looking at someone who didn’t play here, the one player that probably is on the edge of being an NHL player is Luke Johnson. I thought Luke had a real strong season, really strong playoffs as well. He’s a versatile player.
“Obviously up front we have [Andreas] Martinsen and [John] Hayden, those guys also played some in Chicago. Of all those guys I named, the one who didn’t yet to make it the NHL is Luke. I know we’re going to see him in Chicago at some point. He’s got a chance to make our team out of camp. But if not, I have confidence he’ll help us out during the year. He’s probably someone to watch out.”
18. I also took in the goal-scoring panel which featured Patrick Kane and Jeremy Roenick. Kane share some insight into his scoring.
On whether he picks spots to shoot
“The game is so quick now to the point where if you need a one-timer, need to shoot quick, you kind of have an awareness in the back of your head, you know of where you are on the ice and what could potentially be open for that shot, right? So, you’re getting that puck, sometimes you don’t have time to look up and see where you’re at and where the goalie’s at. You’re kind of shooting it to an area where you believe is open and could be open because of your awareness. That’s kind of the thought process behind that.”
On whether he scouts goalies
“I think a lot of goalies are similar now. A lot of them are so big. They play that butterfly style of hockey to the point where if you’re getting a pass on the weak side of the ice and a goalie’s sliding over, you usually have a little bit of space like a foot off the ice or in the top part of the net. I think you know that a lot about goalies. Like you said, you get a scouting report from every goalie from our goaltender coach Jimmy Waite. He puts up a report for us to look at and some weak areas and some things to focus on. Potentially you play against goalies for a longer period of time, you realize tendencies. You play Jonathan Quick so many times whether it’s a playoff series or in the regular season, and you know he’s going to be really aggressive and you’re going to have to get the puck up high when you shoot, on one-timers you’re going to have to make a move because he’s so fast in the net. Just certain things like that you know going into games.”
On transitioning from a pass-first player
“As time goes on, you really try to work on your shot. You try to focus on certain things you need to improve in your game. But I always thought if there’s some way I can get to 50/50 balance where shoot first, pass first, whatever you want to say it, and add in that deception and then you have the goaltender, whoever it is, thinking a little bit more than they should. I think that’s always where I tried to get to. Even last year a little bit, I probably could have shot the puck a little bit more. Sometimes you’re making adjustments throughout the game and you’re just maybe thinking too much.
“I think for all the to players in the league, I think it goes back to what I was saying before, you have to have that confidence. You have to trust your instincts. The game is so fast now. You have to trust what you’re doing out there. Now it’s not like I’m out there thinking, okay, I got to pass as much as I got to shoot today. It’s you make the right play at the time. It was definitely three, four, five years ago something I was working on to try to get that 50/50 balance.
On whether he gets more joy from scoring or setting up a goal
“It’s a good question. I’ve talked to my dad about it before too, and I was saying if there’s one thing you can really experience in the NHL it’s scoring a goal. That adrenaline is nothing like you could ever imagine or replicate in anything you do. It’s probably why I celebrate the way I do like an idiot sometimes. It’s just that joy, that emotion and what you’re feeling out there in that moment. There’s really nothing like it.
“At the same time, if you can ever make a couple moves and find a guy at the backdoor and you’re able to set up a tap-in goal or a one-timer goal, that’s a really great feeling too. Like I said, scoring goals, it’s like nothing else. You can’t replicate that.
19. Kane recalled a funny story about his most memorable goal, the one he scored to win the 2010 Stanley Cup.
“Of course, I was on the ice with Andrew Ladd and Patrick Sharp, those were my linemates that game,” Kane said. “If you watch the play, Sharpie’s pretty open in the slot. So we’re all celebrating after, Sharpie being the great scorer he is and so clutch — he scored so many goals for us — he looks at me, you know we just won the Stanley Cup what was it for the first time in 49 years, looks at me and says, ‘Hey, I was open in the slot.’ And I looked at him and I was like laughing, I thought he was joking around and he was dead serious. He said that to me a couple times. That’s Sharpie for you.”
20. Marian Hossa wasn’t at the convention, but he also wasn’t forgotten. Kane and McDonough were among the people who mentioned his contribution to the organization over the years.
“Not only a teammate, but I sat next him in the locker room for maybe the last seven or eight years he was here,” Kane said. “He’s just an unbelievable human. I think everyone knows that. I think just the joy he had coming to the rink every day. Not just playing hockey but being around the guys and laughing every day and enjoying that part, it’s something I really missed especially last year, and I know the team missed as well.
“Great human being, great teammate, great two-way payer and then you add in he scored 500 goals as well, big-time playoffs performer too. We miss him for sure around here and definitely missed his absence last year.”
McDonough said, “I will say this, and I’ve said this publicly and privately, we don’t win three Stanley Cups without Marian Hossa. I’m not sure if we win any. Marian, on and off the ice and I’ve had the pleasure to be around soccer players and baseball players and hockey players, he is the most unique, revered, respected role model for young players I’ve ever seen. Selfless, two-way player, never about him, great in the locker room, less is more.
“And many times, you will see players who don’t need to say a lot, that the younger player just watch how he conducts himself, how he does his business. There’s nobody better in my entire career that I’ve ever seen that would be someone who is a springboard or role model than Marian Hossa. And I hope Marian Hossa is part of this organization forever.”
The only Blackhawk whose autograph I have
Anyone with a sub want to post the article?
By Corey Pronman 4h ago 30
Corey Pronman’s deep dive into the farm system of every NHL organization includes a ranking of all of the team’s prospects, broken into tiers based on their projection; the impact on the upcoming season and an overall ranking of all players under 23. Further explanation of Pronman’s system and the complete ranking of all 31 teams can be found here.
Chicago’s system is quite deep. In fact, in terms of number of prospects ranked, they are tied for first among all teams. The top of the system isn’t too impressive outside Adam Boqvist, but there are a lot of quality prospects throughout their ranks.
Team’s 2017 ranking*: No. 27
HIGH-END NHL PROSPECT
1. Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas-J20 SuperElit
Boqvist’s hands and IQ all get very high grades. He’s very skilled and creative with the puck, on top of displaying top level, if not elite, vision. What I love about him is his attacking mindset. He’s always looking to jump up and make a play, looking for opportunities and wants to make a difference in the game. Boqvist skates well with the ability to lead a rush and he closes his gaps well defensively. But his skating isn’t as much of a standout trait as his brain. His shot from the point is quite good as well and he’s very skilled at getting it through traffic, showing high shot generation numbers everywhere he goes. On defense, he’s small and not that physical. I’ve seen him make stops effectively versus players his age — not at an elite level, but more than passable.
LEGIT NHL PROSPECT
2. Dylan Sikura, LW, Northeastern-Hockey East
Sikura was one of the best players in college hockey and is a dynamic offensive threat. He is a great skater with high-end puck skills and good offensive instincts. He’s a play-driver who generated a ridiculous amount of chances and shots for Northeastern albeit as a 23-year-old in college. My concerns with Sikura are more off the puck, as he’s not the biggest guy or known for being the most engaged physically or defensively. He’s ready to play real NHL minutes though due to his skill set and experience.
3. Henrik Jokiharju, D, Portland-WHL
Jokiharju was one of the top defensemen in the WHL last season. He won’t stand out with a flashy rush, but he makes a lot of quality plays all over the ice and can QB a power play. Jokiharju’s skating stands out when you watch him due to how fluid a skater he is and how he can transition the play with his feet. He has excellent vision and makes a lot of high-level passes. He has some skill but I don’t see him as a player who relies on his hands. Defensively he’s solid for his age, but he needs to get stronger and more confident checking good players before he reaches the NHL.
4. Jake Wise, C, USNTDP-USHL
Wise was one of the top players on the USNTDP this past season. He’s coordinated in handling the puck and can make defenders miss. He also shows very good two-way IQ. Wise can set up tough plays and can play center competently in his own end. He’s not an overly physical kind of guy, but he works hard to cover his checks and can PK. His feet/pace are not great for his size, but he has an above-average top gear and a decent first step.
5. Ian Mitchell, D, Denver-NCHC
Mitchell had a fantastic freshman season, being one of the top defensemen on one of the best college teams in the country as an 18-year-old. He brings a lot of components to the table in terms of his skating and skill, but his IQ stands out the most to me. Mitchell is very calm moving the puck and controls things well on the PP, showing great vision. He isn’t offense-only, as he plays tough minutes and on the PK in Denver. Also, despite being small, he defends OK.
6. Niklas Nordgren, RW, HIFK-Jr. A Liiga
Nordgren is a highly-skilled playmaker. He has a great understanding of how to create offense, has the touch to pull off difficult plays and can be a QB from the side boards on the power play. His vision and puck skills are both great, with the ability to be a primary creator of offense and excel on the man-advantage. His skating is worrisome for a 5-foot-9 guy, which keeps me from getting him to the higher tiers, but it still grades as average, and given how hard he hustles, he gets up the ice reasonably well. I also wouldn’t classify him as a highly physical guy, but he works and I’ve seen him be competent on the PK.
HAVE A CHANCE
7. Artur Kayumov, RW, Yaroslavl-KHL
Kayumov’s development has stagnated a bit the last year or so, but his impressive world juniors gives reason for optimism. The skill set is intriguing. He’s a very good skater, has good hands and impressive two-way hockey sense. Kayumov can make an offensive play one shift and kill a penalty the next. Despite his skills, I have questions if that’s enough to make him a legit top-six forward in the NHL. He needs to get stronger and find a way to produce versus men.
8. Victor Ejdsell, LW, Rockford-AHL
Ejdsell was acquired from the Predators at the deadline and looked good for Rockford once he came over. He’s a big man at 6-foot-5 with impressive skills. Ejdsell has the hands to make quick plays. He has a good shot, as he can score from a distance, but he can also make plays and be a side-wall guy on the power play. Despite being a big guy, Ejdsell isn’t that aggressive and uses his body more to shield pucks. He’s also not the quickest guy in terms of foot-speed or the pace he plays at.
9. Nicolas Beaudin, D, Drummondville-QMJHL
The first thing that stands out about Beaudin is his hockey sense. He’s a very composed and aware defender with the puck who makes plays with pace and displays quality vision. He’s not a super flashy puck rusher and, although his skating and hands are fine, I wouldn’t call him a dynamic player. His IQ allows him to be OK defensively at the junior level, although given he’s a smaller defenseman and lacks elite mobility, he’ll need to get a lot stronger to defend at the higher levels.
10. Maxim Shalunov, RW, CSKA-KHL
Shalunov has been around a while. He’s 25 and in terms of player development is close to the best he’ll be. He has size, good hands, a big shot, makes some plays, and is coming off his best season ever. I have questions on his ultimate output in the NHL. I don’t think he plays with a ton of speed and he’ll be a complemental scorer as opposed to a driver, but he has ability for sure even if I’ve never been truly wowed by him.
11. Chad Krys, D, Boston University-Hockey East
Krys is a prospect that sparks a lot of debate in scouting circles. Some are big believers. Some have no time for him. Some are in the middle. I fall into the last camp. I see the great mobility, and flashes of offensive brilliance. He can QB a power play very well and impact the transition game. Krys is small though and shows issues with the physical components of defending and can be pushed aside. His decision making isn’t great at times too. The upside remains tantalizing, even if not as much as a few years ago.
12. Andrey Altybarmakyan, RW, SKA-KHL
Altybarmakyan turned heads at the Canada-Russia series. His World Juniors was more so-so, but with flashes of the same player. He’s a high-energy/speed player. He jets up the ice and plays hard getting to the net. His best trait is his skating, but Altybarmakyan has skill and can make good plays with the puck although I don’t see him as a top-six forward in the NHL. He could still be a decent bottom-six guy who kills penalties.
13. Dominik Kahun, LW, Munchen-DEL
Kahun turned some heads this season when he was one of the best players at the men’s Olympic tournament. I remember him from his amateur days. He’s not a game-breaker, but he’s a skilled playmaker who has added a lot of speed from his teenage days. Kahun is small but works hard without taking penalties. He can run a power play, and make the odd high-end pass.
14. Carl Dahlstrom, D, Rockford-AHL
Dahlstrom’s development has trended up as late. He was good for Rockford this season, and OK for Chicago in a brief call-up. He’s a big defenseman who is a fantastic skater for a guy his size. Every now and then Dahlstrom will have a rush that grabs your attention due to the way he moves. He showed more confidence with the puck this season, but his skills are just OK. He needs to be a little more consistent and be tougher on his checks, but he could be a fine lower-half of roster/PK type.
15. Tim Soderlund, LW, Skelleftea-SHL:
Soderlund is one of the quicker skaters outside the NHL. He plays fast, and with a ton of hustle in his game. He’s good defensively, kills penalties, and can be a shorthanded threat due to his speed. He has skill, but it’s just fine skill/vision, and he’s not the biggest guy. He’ll have obstacles, but he’s always impressed whenever I’ve watched him the last two years.
16. Philipp Kurashev, C, Quebec-QMJHL
Kurashev’s a great playmaker with the instincts to create chances off the perimeter and has enough speed to generate a lot of clean entries. He can make high-level creative plays and can finish chances, too. His main issue is off the puck, as he’s not a very physical player whose effort isn’t always there in battles.
17. Lucas Carlsson, D, Brynas-SHL: Very smart puck-moving defenseman who can run a power play. I have questions on whether he has the dynamic speed/skill to make a ton of plays in NHL.
18. Evan Barratt, C, Penn State-Big Ten: Barratt has fantastic hockey sense. His ability as a playmaker and the way he reads the game is truly high-end and he can make some unique plays. Barratt also works hard at both ends. He’s not incredibly quick or skilled though.
19. Matthew Highmore, LW, Rockford-AHL: Highmore isn’t going to be on a ton of highlight reels, but he’s quick, has good two-way hockey sense and competes hard. He had a good rookie pro season.
20. Ivan Nalimov, G, Ufa-KHL: Nalimov is a big goalie with dynamic athleticism who had a fantastic year in the KHL. He hasn’t played a ton of hockey the last two years so it’s hard to gauge where he is as a player.
21. Alexandre Fortin, LW, Rockford-AHL: Big time speed, has some skill but needs to show more consistent effort. I’m not sold that his hockey sense is better-than-average as well.
22. Anthony Louis, LW, Rockford-AHL: Fantastic playmaker who can run a power play and had a good rookie pro year. Very small, and struggles to win battles.
23. Darren Raddysh, D, Rockford-AHL: He showed this season he can run a pro power play and can move the puck well. Foot-speed will always be a question, but his hockey sense got him an NHL contract and AHL points.
24. Jakub Galvas, D, Olomouc-Czech Extraliga: Good skater, moves the puck, isn’t high-end at anything, but makes plays at both ends. He played for the Czech national team as an 18-year-old briefly this season.
25. Mackenzie Entwistle, RW, Hamilton-OHL: Entwistle is a big winger who plays hard and has good speed. His skill level is OK, but he doesn’t have much in terms of offensive instincts.
Sikura should be an opening lineup guy in the top-nine. Dahlstrom, Ejdsell and Highmore could be up at some point. I’m not betting against Kahun at this point given his development track.
Organizational Top 10 (23 and Under)
Nick Schmaltz, C
Adam Boqvist, D
Alex DeBrincat, RW
Dylan Sikura, LW
Henri Jokiharju, D
Jake Wise, C
Ian Mitchell, D
Niklas Nordgren, RW
Gustav Forsling, D
Artur Kayumov, RW
Schmaltz has made a believer out of the skeptic in me. He emerged this season into a top role for Chicago and held his own. He’s a fantastic playmaker and has worked to make himself a more consistent and reliable center. DeBrincat was also way better than I thought he’d be as a rookie pro, being one of the top rookies in the NHL. His hockey IQ and shot allow him to be so dangerous. Forsling had a so-so season and was sent down mid-year. He’s probably never going to be an impact guy skill/speed wise, but he’s a smart puck-mover.
* – 2017 ranking is from my work at ESPN
Mark Lazerus is leaving the Sun Times to join The Athletic. Seems like he will be doing Blackhawks columns (in addition to Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Bears), but not the day-to-day Beat. That will be Scott Powers still.
Chris Kuc is leaving the Tribune to cover the Caps for the Athletic. Which sucks bc Kuc was good.
The Athletic is scooping up some top tier guys.
But fuck paying them for the info.
Why? It's more than worth the 40 bucks a year or whatever it is.