Tag Archives: Alex DeBrincat

Chicago Blackhawks – Serving Apple Pie at IIHF World Championships


Chicago, Il –Yesterday was the start of the IIHF Men’s World Championships and anyone who follows me knows I absolutely love International hockey and all the events from Jrs levels to Men’s to Women’s.

Let me just say that yesterday’s game between old rivals of USA vs Canada did not disappoint. What a way to open going to a shootout.

For those of you that don’t know Team USA is captianed by our own Patty Kane and he is not alone he has with him the Cat, Connor Murphy and Jordan Oesterle from the Blackhawks.

In looking over Team USA’s roster I initially really really liked it, after yesterday I love it. It is what I imagined it would be with a sprinkling of very young players, NHL young players and veterans. It has skill and speed mixed with size.

The only area I was concerned was the defense and the Goaltending. After yesterday my apologies Keith Kinkaid I was wrong you were fabulous.

The USA did not have their legs in the first period and were slow to pucks and spent almost the entire game in their own zone.

If not for Kinkaid the game could have been over after the first. Instead they came out only down 2-1 which was a miracle in itself with how badly they were dominated in the first.

Anders Lee got things rolling with Alex DeBrincat with the secondary assist to end the first.

The second period the USA found their legs and their battle levels. They not only tied they at one point took the lead on goals by Dylan Larkin and Johnny Gaudreau.

The Larkin Goal saw Jordan Oesterle with an apple and the Johnny Gaudreau goal was set up by a gorgeous cross ice pass from Patrick Kane. I mean seeing these two together on a line wow, just wow.

After the Game Kane said he thought the team could play better and I agree they will with more familiarity.

I liked that Coach Jeff Blashill had Murphy paired with Oesterle on defense so there was some commonality there with the Blackhawks.

Kane and Gaudreau you can see just think the game the same way so there was sort of instant chemistry there. Alex DeBrincat can just flat-out play and shoot that puck regardless.

The game went to OT and both the USA and Canada took penalties but it was Canada that suffered the most from the infraction when Connor McDavid tripped Gaudreau with .16 seconds left.

In IIHF the rule is even if the game ends the player who commits the penalty can not shoot in the shoot out so McDavid could not shoot for Canada which might have made the difference.

Personally I love this rule and the NHL should adopt although I’m not sure how many games this year went to shoot out in the NHL still I would love to see this implemented.

Canadian shooters were Barzal, Eberle, Shenn, RNH, Horvat with Eberle going twice as you can repeat shooters in IIHF. Eberle connected once and that was it.

USA shooters were Atkinson, Kane, Gaudreau, Hughes and Larkin. It was Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets that connected twice on absolutely sick moves that sealed the win for the USA along with Kinkaid stopping almost everyone and everything.

I think Kane is right they need to get better acquainted with each other as a team.

The defense needs to tighten up a bit and keep the pace up and transition quickly. Kane was backchecking and that will be needed from everyone especially against teams like Canada and Russia and Sweden.

All in all what a way to kick things off as Canada is in Group B with the USA so getting the extra point was huge.

Other Blackhawks that played yesterday was Artem Anisimov for Team Russia and he had a goal and looked his typical Arty Party self in the opposition’s house area in front of the goal.

Also playing for Russia was Hawks Prospect Maxim Shalunov who had a goal himself on an absolute snipe. Shalunov was drafted by the Blackhawks in the 4th round in 2011.  Shalunov is under contract in the KHL for another couple of years I believe to the Sibir Novosibirsk. Hey bud please come over to the Hawks OK?

Anyhow Russia trounced France 7-0

Erik Gustafsson was playing for Sweden no points but Sweden won handily 5-0 over Belarus.

Recently signed Dominik Kahun was playing for Germany but no points. Kahun was playing from the Munich Red Bull before the Blackhawks signed him to an ELC after his great performance at the Olympics.

The USA takes on home country Denmark today at 1:00 PM CT and should be fun with the Denmark winning yesterday.

Highlights of the USA game are linked below and all stats can be gotten from the https://www.new-iihf.com/en/events/2018/wm/

USA keep improving and Good Luck to all the Blackhawks.

GO USA!

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Chicago Blackhawks – Future Central


Chicago, IL — A lot has gone wrong with the Chicago Blackhawks this year and when that happens one is usually compelled to look back to try to find what exactly went wrong.

Well I have never been usual I am looking forward because honestly I need time to digest everything that went wrong and come up with some solutions.

So for now I will be looking ahead and not just for the Blackhawks but for their competition in the Central as well.

I will be looking at all the teams currently in the Central but wanted to start for now with the Hawks and it just so happens they are first up alphabetically by City as well. So my next look will be at the Colorado Avalanche.

I think it is important to not only know they self but to understand your opponents and their strengths especially in the hardest division in the NHL. This division will only be getting harder with an influx of new skilled talents for all the teams.

Below is a chart showing for the past five years who the Hawks have drafted and where. The Bolded names means those players have or currently are playing with the Chicago Blackhawks and the rounds in which they were selected.

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
1 Jokiharju-D None None Schmaltz-F Hartman-F
2 Mitchell-D DeBrincat-F Knott – F None Dahlstrom-D
Krys – D
Kayumov-F
3 Altybarmakyan-F Peeters- G Gilbert – D Iacopelli-F Hayden-F
Barrett – F Starrett -F
4 Soderlund – F Carlsson-D Shea – D Olofsson-F Norell-D
Laavainen – D Noel – F Motte-F
5 Foo – F From-F Bondra – F Snuggerud-D Johnson-F
Galvas-D Soderberg-D
6 none Hillman-D Radke- F Sikura-F Louis – F
Tuulola-D Nalimov – G
7 Ess- D Ryczek – D Dahlstrom-F Ramsey-F Press-D

 

We can see the importance of first round draft picks as all of them have played for the Hawks. I did not go back to 2012 but there was one Teuvo Teravainen (long sigh) who is currently a force with the Carolina Hurricanes.

He actually helped the Hawks win a Cup in 2015. Also in that year Vinny Hinostroza was drafted in the sixth round and he has been a spark plug this year for the team and will be a part of not only their future but their rise again to the top of the division.

It is the likes of Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz, Vinny Hinostroza, David Kampf and others that will lead the charge.

Not that the core of this team is washed up but long-term it will be the kids that will determine the Hawks future that’s just the reality of it.

Even ones who are not on the team yet like Henri Jokiharju and recent sign ups like Denver U’s Blake Hillman and Northeastern’s Dylan Sikura. I did not highlight them above as five games is not enough games they are just getting their skates wet.

The other interesting thing is where the Hawks have drafted from in the first rounds namely Finnish teams Jokerit for Teravainen before the team went to the KHL or US NCAA University North Dakota for Schmaltz and the OHL Plymouth Whalers  for Ryan Hartman.

The Hawks certainly like their Finns, Swedes, Canadians and Americans there is no denying that.

The Hawks have also taken players from Denmark, Russia and Czech Republic so the Hawks will find you if you have the potential no matter where you are.

Keep in mind also the Blackhawks were drafting very late in the first rounds that is the tradeoff for success. Hartman was indeed drafted dead last in the first round.

Speaking of Hartman we will have to see how Victor Ejdsell works out as basically he should be substituted in that Hartman slot since the trade.

Keep in mind he is coming from SHL and big ice so give the guy some time esp on the D side.

The Hawks though put him right on the first line of fire with Kane and Saad centering them no less and I think that is a great move. They need to determine how these new players will fit in the current roster and how their games translate or where they need coaching.

I look for Sikura to get a baptism under fire as well which is great for the team and these players development. But fans patience please they will make mistakes, I would be shocked if they didn’t and that is ok do it now in meaningless games and learn and move on.

It is also obvious a lack of number 1 in 2016 & 2015 could be impactful set back to the Hawks if not for the gift from the hockey Gods in 2016 landing Alex DeBrincat in the 2nd round. Thanks to the rest of the teams being afraid of lack of size Chicago will be glad for years to come.

This year with the team having a horrendous year one of the bright spots is having a high draft round pick in 2018 and possibly a draft lottery bonanza, not that that is what the Hawks or their fans wanted but hey at this point take any positives.

As we will see more from viewing other teams in the Central high draft picks can turn an organization around you just need to look at the Avs, Jets and Stars and in a way it was inevitable that the Hawks would take a back step considering where they were drafting from as opposed to the rest of the division.

No excuses that is how it is for all the teams but the Hawks have to their credit realized what has happened and are taking steps in the right direction to address this.

This past weekend I watched a lot of NCAA Hockey while others were watching basketball, I said I was unusual and I did see Sikura, Hillman, Mitchell, Shea, Krys, Gilbert and Starrett.

Believe it or not also got a chance to catch a SHL game and caught forward Tim Söderlund of Skellefteå AIK , Oh my not sure how his game translates to NHL but I liked what I saw what a dynamo. If he turns out to be another Arvidsson look out.

But back to the NCAA prospects Sikura has a ton of skill and could turn out to be a difference maker. Like all young players the Dzone is where the kids need to work and improve.

Remember even DeBrincat had to work on that and still could improve even with how great he is in O zone. No one said NHL was easy if it was it wouldn’t be as great a game.

Hillman, Shea, Krys and Gilbert are all D man and Hawks fans have patience help is coming but remember defense takes a while to develop you don’t want to rush it. Forwards you can push quicker but D takes time to bake. I liked what I did see though they all are puck moving and pretty solid in their own end.

Let’s face past years the Hawks biggest struggles were defensive leaving the goalie on an island. I’m not saying this is all defenseman’s fault forwards are guility as well but I do think the Hawks defense needed to get younger, faster and more mobile and better skating abilities to keep up with the likes of the Laines, McKinnons, Seguins ect..

Also on the defensive side  Finnish defensive prospect Joni Tuulola on Monday was signed by the Hawks.  22-year-old Tuulola will report to AHL Rockford so he can get acclimated to the smaller ice.

I have a feeling that next year Jokiharju will be joining the Hawks and yes I know I said D men take longer but I love this kids attitude he left his native Finland to come to the WHL Portland WinterHawks to learn North American hockey. Now if that doesn’t say I want to be an NHLer I don’t know what does. If he spends time in the AHL I doubt it will be for long.

The scouting report of Jokiharju is he has been described as “the new age defenseman who has good feet, stick, and high skill in playing the game at the fastest pace.” Sounds perfect to me.

Now again the jump to the NHL is huge they have never faced players this fast or skilled so give them time and again they will make mistakes. Hillman is signed on with the Hawks so we will get to see him along with Sikura and Ejdsell and I would suggest if you are interested at all in the Hawks future to take in  these games if you can.

I also think for the forwards getting a chance to work with Patrick Kane invaluable so I hope they can take advantage and as Dylan Sikura said in an interview just be a sponge – smart guy.

Now back to the European circuit I have to admit I have not seen any of the players there too much. I would say the Russian players need more seasoning and not even sure if they are wanting to come here which is why the hesitation with drafting Russian players so we will have to see on them.

Mathis From from Denmark is playing the SHL and I am really anxious to see what he can do here. He is a solid two-way player that pays as much attention to back checking and transitioning to the offense from defense but not sure if he will be coming over either. He is what I would call a true power forward in the making but he needs time probably in AHL to adjust to small ice.

I think another blessing is that these last games are great since they are better than a training camp these younglings are getting to play in real NHL games against divisional foes who have everything to play for as they are all in playoff hunts or need to keep getting points.

So the kids will see the competitive side and how strong you have to be. I say get as many youths in now and so they see what this NHL is all about and also to coach them up if need.

So see Blackhawks nation it is not all doom and gloom. There is exciting times ahead but there is a lot of work on the youths part and the coaches will have to be patient and positively guide.

Fans patience, patience and more patience.

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Chicago Blackhawks – And so it begins


Chicago, IL — I have been really busy at work so you will be seeing fewer posts of mine. I know don’t all cry now.

I did want to post today because the last time I did the Hawks were in the middle of re-designing the team.

Now that training camp is over we know somewhat of how this team looks we can start to see how they progress.

Of course there will be tweeks made throughout the year due to many things, injuries, opponents and just wanting to see something different.

So where are the Blackhawks after all the post season changes this year?

Well, it is too soon to tell but the Hawks got a great test out of the shoots with walloping the champs in Pittsburgh.

If Patrick Kane thought it was surreal to play in that game, as a fan I can say it was surreal to watch.

In fact I still am not sure if what I saw was that the Hawks are that much better or the Penguins were that bad.

The Pens looked slow and just worn out which, as Hawks fans know is the problem with having won a Stanley Cup and the wear and tear that ensues.

I think we will get a better picture how this team really measures up right away especially I am keen to see how they do against young, fast, skilled teams.

Next up on the docket brings back an old friend the Breadman, Artemi Panarin and his Columbus Blue Jackets.

Let me just say for the fans that feel the need to say the Hawks or the Jackets won the Panarin/Saad deal, both teams won as these players appear to be exactly what the other needed.

As a fan though man I miss Panarin in Chicago.

I hold out hope one day he returns but if not I will still be following from afar as I doubt I will ever be living in the Columbus area.

Let me also say John McD and Stan Bowman you both should ask Commissioner Bettman and the NHL for an extra 5% of the NHL revenues for the Hawks because the Hawks are the NHL’s biggest marketing tool I’ve ever seen.

This year because of the Hawks having so many former players I will be following the Columbus Blue Jackets due to my loving Panarin, well and I kind of like that team and Bobrovsky, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Arizona Coyotes.

I already keep an eye on Montreal because of Shaw and Danault, the Islanders because of Leddy and Ladd and the Jets because of Big Buff & Marco

Yes I cheer for these teams because they are in the east and well with the Jets former Hawks front office Kevin Cheveldayoff is their GM as well.

It is ridiculous though how many former Hawks are on the Hurricanes with Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Scott Darling, Marcus Kruger, Joakim Nordstrom and all of our favorite young Finn Teuvo Time Terravainen. Blackhawks east for sure.

Hurricane’s I’ll be watching and listening to you when I can. In fact I will be listening to today before Hawks/Jackets game and there is a Cubs game today too.

GO CUBS GO!

Arizona well you have Nik Hjalmarsson and when I need to see warriors when Game of Thrones is not on to get my fix, I will be watching and tuning in there as well.

Columbus though is the team I have my eyes on. I’m looking for them to supplant Pittsburgh hopefully.

Honestly I am sick of the Penguins. I didn’t even watch the playoffs after the Hawks were eliminated as I knew Pittsburgh would win again.

I watched the Jackets yesterday and no they did not have 10 goals but they had 5 and they looked very fast and skilled.

Artemi Panarin just like Patrick Kane looked fine with his new linesmates. Panarin’s line with Alex Wenneberg and Cam Atkinson are really dynamic and fun to watch and they will only get better.

Bread you go boy and dominate the east. Columbus you are in for a treat. What Chicago was lucky enough to witness you will now get to savor all the flavors of the Breadman.

I honestly now believe that this is the best thing that could have happened for Panarin. He will become more of a leader and I already see his D zone attention.

Patrick Kane I never have any questions about him and who he plays with. I could play with him and score goals and I can’t skate. Just park yourself in front of the net or get him the puck and you’ll score points.

In the Penguins game Brandon Saad looked like a man possessed and what did Nick Schmaltz do to himself this past year. Kaner was that your training with him? If so Blackhawks you need to hire Kane as jr. coach and mentor.

If just working and training with Kane does this for a player yowzer both Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman look more polished and faster.

Kane I know is a savage when it comes to training and being prepared on ice. I know everyone says professionals are all like this not like Kane. Please stay in Chicago in the off seasons and get these kids trained up please and thank you PK.

Now this maybe due in part to their own natural progression since they are young and still developing but my Lord their progress was noticeable both in training camp and vs the Pens. This will be fun to watch all year their development.

Speaking of fun to watch Alex DeBrincat or as Coach Q has coined him “The Cat” well after seeing his play last year in Erie and his hit on Cole and not backing down from Ryan Reaves it doesn’t surprise me.

He backs down from no one. He maybe a Cat but he has the heart of a lion. Just like the king of the animal jungle he is smart. He knows how to keep his head up and use balance going against bigger opponents.

He will be fun to watch along with John Hayden. What can you say about Hayden. Talk about the triple threat he’s handsome, smart and can play hockey, need I say more.

On the ice like DeBrincat he always seems to be around the puck and he brings a fierceness and physicality that the Hawks have been lacking. His determination though maybe penthouse level. He just will not be denied.

Jan Rutta, Gustav Forsling and Conner Murphy will all get better with more games under their belt and learning Q defense and Q speak. They have been very good so far but mistakes will be made that is how you learn.

I think tonight’s game against Columbus will be a great test for both teams as they are both fast, young teams with puck magicians in Kane and Panarin. This should be a fun game.

I know the Blue Jackets are licking their chops to come to Chicago to prove they are right there with the NHL’s big clubs.

Let’s see this year if they can sustain the play to the end of the year where they sort of faded last year but the Hawks did as well in the playoffs so maintaining consistency is always an issue.

I am secretly hoping this is a preview of SCF but I jumped too far ahead.

For the Hawks though this month of October will be a real test.

On the schedule, I don’t know who coach Q and his staff will use as gauges. Who I am going to use as my personal measuring sticks for this team are the games against Toronto, Edmonton and of course Nashville.

These games should be telling to see just how they do against young fast skilled hungry teams and if this team can compete better in the playoffs this year. They should they are constructed more what you need to have but you never know until the games are played.

Now the divisional rival games are always key as the last couple years the Hawks have not done well in their own division so Blues, Stars, Jets, Avs, Wild should be their focus along side the Preds.

I’ve got to say too that seeing Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell at the home opener was bittersweet and I know all of Chicago wishes both of them nothing but the best.

So the fun has started as the NHL is back. Commish Bettman you should be thrilled you now have me watching almost half your league thanks to the Blackhawks.

And while I will be paying more attention to Carolina, Columbus and Arizona this year my heart is always focused on the Blackhawks and I’ll be watching you every chance I can. Damn jobs I tell you.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Stan Bowman what did you do?


Chicago, IL — Hot time, summer in the city. Yes it is time for block parties, beach volleyball, outdoor concerts, sailing with the smell of tanning lotions and barbecue in the air. Should be a fun time right?

Well not necessarily if you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan. This past few days have been a whirlwind of changes.

It took me until now to process everything that happened and that is not even counting we had a draft here as well.

Several things you can say about the GM of the Chicago Blackhawks Stan Bowman:

1) He is a man of his word

2) He’s all business first

3) He has the audacity of youth.

Stan Bowman vowed changes would come at his post season presser and boy he was not joking.

I think as fans we all knew changes would come down the pike just maybe not these moves which are either suicidal or genius. Only time will tell on this but I am leaning toward the latter.

Bowman I believe has said in the past he doesn’t get attached to players and he was not lying here either.

Stan reminds me of a professional assassin think Daniel Craig James Bond.

He is vigilantly ready if needed to swing his sword despite the cold breeze it may generate afterwards and the finality that ensues with potential repercussions.

I mean this as a compliment it takes a great deal of strength to do this for the greater good of team to put head before heart.

Us fans usually put heart before head but if there is any fan base that has had to get used to losing beloved players it’s Blackhawks fans.

I slowly am becoming detached not sure that is good or not. I try now to look at the business of hockey but I hate it.

He made moves which are bold and yet at the end of the day because of these changes we are still not sure and either is he how the results will be and that is what is scary – the unknown.

The team definitely got younger, faster, bigger and more like the direction the NHL is going in and for that you have to applaud him.

To lose three key players like Marian Hossa, Nik Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin is gut wrenching but when I take my heart (believe me that is difficult I love these guys) and look logically and on paper all of these moves make sense for a cap strapped team.

Let’s look at the forward situation first.

The first tumble down the rabbit hole of change came with the Marian Hossa announcement that he would not be playing this year due to medical reasons and I have to say I still have not wrapped my head around the fact we may have seen Hossa play hockey in a Blackhawks uni for the last time already.

With Hossa’s departure that leaves a huge void for a two-way playing winger and also someone who can play on the PK too which no doubt factored into the trade of Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad 2.0 excursion.

Believe me Hossa brings so much more than that and again not sure Saad or anyone can fill those skates or if it’s even fair to ask them to.

I adore Artemi Panarin but Saad brings a different look to the team.

He is more a two -way player w blazing speed as we have all seen and in this new NHL everything is about speed and North/South play inside the dots and getting to the net.

There is no question in my mind the Hawks will miss Panarin’s offensive brilliance and I wish him the best of everything, that boy was thrill for sure both on and off the ice.

Someone or a committee of someones need to fill this offence void and it’s a big one points wise and the chemistry that 2nd line had.

If I look logically Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad and whoever is with them will have a lot of pressure on them to help fill this void.

All eyes right now are on Toews who for two years has let’s be honest not been good for the contract he has. Yes I’m putting that out there as a challenge to 19 and his line because I know they can step up and will.

You have to think also part of dealing Panarin was the hope that Schmaltz, Hayden, Hartman, Jurco, Panik and I will throw in Alex DeBrincat and Graham Knott can come in and help fill the points production deficit when Hossa & Panarin left.

DeBrincat and Knott may need time in the AHL but don’t be surprised if they make the team straight out.

DeBrincat is small but that boy has grit in him and so much skill offensively.

Knott is just huge and fast and skilled if he can get to the net with his big frame goals will be scored I guarantee.

Now will they need time to ripen and grow of course that is also why the Hawks wisely hired Asst. Coach Don Granato. Boy he is going to be one busy man with all the youth and schooling them up.

I have no doubts whoever plays with Patrick Kane will be all the better for it.

It sounds like it will be Schmaltz who gets first crack all I can say is get Kane the puck and get to the net or open ice and just follow his lead and you’ll be fine. If you have a shot don’t think take it especially if it’s open to the net.

The other forward gotten in trades was Laurent Dauphin from AZ. Dauphin think Kruger/Danault like which one has to think will be Kruger’s replacement and see him gone as well for cap reasons.

Dauphin is a projected 3rd line Center with good speed and two – way play and a lot cheaper than Kruger. He will be a RFA next year and I believe his cap hit is only in the 750K range this year and he is only 22 yrs old and also plays on the PK.

The Hawks definitely got younger, bigger and faster and I see them doing even more moves with moving Kruger out and maybe bringing in another winger depending on how the kids above do or possibly another contract gets moved out so brace yourselves for more possible sword swings Hawks fans.

Now onto the Defense and boy this one is difficult.

Losing a warrior like Hammer is going to be hard to replace.

The Hawks some what started earlier with signing Kempny and Rutta from Czech Republic which I already said in another blog I really like these two guys but they will need to get NHL ready with the speed and skill that NHL shooters have again this is where Granato and Samuelsson will have a big impact.

The big factor will be Connor Murphy that was exchanged in the Hammer trade from Arizona.

His contract goes to 2022 so that was a big consideration here along with he is only 24 yrs old. He brings physicality and great skating ability also he has a great first pass out of the dzone.

What you lose though is a warrior who was a shot blocker, team player and tough physically. Murphy I believe has already had some health issues so we shall see how that plays out.

The Hawks are placing a lot on young Dmen but they have Keith and Seabrook to look to for guidance and I can’t think of two guys any better to learn from and get coached up from.

So the Hawks have lost in 72 hrs a HOF All Star Winger, a Gagarin Cup Champion/Calder Trophy Winger and a 3X Stanley Cup Defenseman yeah Chicago it is ok to cry, throw things or just get sick to your stomach.

What the Hawks gained remains to be seen and how it will all come together and the moves that are yet to be made.

One thing we know for sure is this team will certainly be a lot different from the one last year come October.

The good thing is they don’t need to really come together immediately its 2018 they need to but stay close in 2017 til they figure it all out.

Coaching up these young players will be the key this year for sure. Coach Quenneville and his staff are certainly going to earn their pay checks this year.

Change is a difficult thing for everyone and again it only reinforces to me one day what’s left of this core 2,7,19 & 88 will no longer be on the Hawks and will retire.

What we are seeing now is a slow transition and if you hated like me seeing 81, 72 & 4 gone it could be worse at least some of the core is still here and there is still a small window the next 2-3 years to get another Cup here at least that is what I am telling myself.

Did Stan Bowman make this team better in the long run?

Hard to say there is a lot of work still to be done by all but I do think in the long run these were the right moves no matter how much my heart hates them and probably needed to be made with a new youth infused NHL if you want to compete.

It took guts to make these moves for sure.

Still Bowman will be looked at and questioned if the Hawks don’t even make the playoffs this year or are bounced again early which is a good possibility with all the young players on the team.

It is now on the shoulders of the coaches and the players to step up and in whether the Hawks succeed or fall this year Hawks fans will support we may fuss and question but only because we are fans and want the team to do well.

I will close with these from those far more eloquent than I:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare

 

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – Prospects in Memorial Cup Final


Chicago, IL — The 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup crowned a champion yesterday. Congratulations to the Windsor Spitfires and Graham Knott on defeating the high powered Erie Otters 4-3 in what was about as closely contested final you could get.

I would also like to congratulate the Erie Otters on an amazing year and winning the OHL Championship. Alex DeBrincat congrats on being named CHL player of the year and what a year it was for both the Otters and DeBrincat.

So in the final DeBrincat had one assist on his buddy Dylan Strome’s goal but he had numerous chances. He hit the post and missed a wide open net so he did get his chances in the game just couldn’t bury them. He had seven shots on goal in the game so he was getting his chances.

DeBrincat finished this tournament with 2 goals and 8 assists which was good for third overall in scoring in the tourney.

Graham Knott enjoy the championship at any level it is an achievement and to do it against a great team like the Erie Otters is quit a feat.  Knott tallied a goal and like DeBrincat had numerous chances that just didn’t go in. I can remember one he was in all alone on the goalie thanks to a great pass by Jeremy Bracco but just didn’t bury it.

Knott ended this game with 1 goal on 3 shots on goal and was 3 for 5 in face off dot. He ended this tournament as the 14th overall scorer with 3 goals, 1 assist in 4 games.

Now I’m sure both DeBrincat and Knott would tell you it doesn’t hurt playing on lines with talented linemates. So now what is next for these two Blackhawks prospects is questions and a lot of work.

Can they make the transition from the OHL/CHL to the NHL or will there be time spent in the AHL? I specifically wanted to see how their 2-way game was, their speed, net front presence and forecheck/board work.

Let me start with Knott. He has really good speed because of his long stride. It doesn’t take him much to get from one end of the ice to the other.

I love his game because it will I think translate well to the way the NHL is going. He just goes straight to the net and with his big frame he makes a great screen. As I said previously he does so much that does not show on the stat sheets because he is wrecking havoc at the net.  I would say the strength of his game is his speed and net front presence along with his physicality.

I have not seen Knott play that much but I do think Knott will need seasoning in the AHL to work on his two way game. I want to see more backchecking and being more defensively aware. I would say he may need board work on the forecheck with his big body.

As with all young players I want to see more shooting work on that and deflecting pucks since he is always parked in front of the net. Knott is a LW and his size and straight to the net game is something the Blackhawks need more of for sure I just think he needs to develop more on the defensive side but he may surprise with hard work in this off season.

Good Luck in camp and congrats again on Memorial Cup.

Alex DeBrincat we all know has tremendous potential offensively yes even in the NHL. His shot is lethal and his hockey IQ is off the charts and NHL ready. He knows exactly where to go to find quiet ice space even in front of the net. Now he will not get this kind of time and space in the NHL but I’m betting it doesn’t take him long to figure out where to go.

If I was DeBrincat I would be studying film of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin and lets throw in there Brad Marchand, Viktor Arvidsson and Cam Atkinson. Just my two cents. In camp I would definitely be watching 88 & 72 and if you can pick 88’s brain 72 maybe hard to understand unless you speak Russian otherwise ask him too.

DeBrincat does seem to be able to take hits and even deliver some too.

His two – way game is also NHL ready. There have been numerous times I’ve seen him high tail himself back to chase down a player on a break. I’ve seen him cover for his dmen pinching in and I’ve seen him block shots.

He plays both ends of special teams which any team can use more of and the Blackhawks particularly have not been good on either side. I loved that the Otters use DeBrincat in the high slot on the power play with his shot and he has great hand eye co-ordination for tipping and deflections.

I doubt in the NHL DeBrincat will be put on the penalty kill but if he is at least it won’t be foreign to him. So I would say his two way game is very good coming out of juniors .

What I think DeBrincat should work on is his board work and forechecking and learning how to avoid hits or balancing so you can use bigger players size and weight against them.

Out of all the prospects I can see DeBrincat making the jump straight to the NHL but if he has to spend time in the AHL that would not hurt either but I don’t think he would be there long.

It is really hard to tell how and how quickly prospects can transition to the NHL but I have been really impressed with how these guys hockey sense is and can’t wait to see them develop and for them to start their professional careers.

Good Luck boys!

 

 

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – Prospects in CHL’s Memorial Cup recap


Chicago, IL — So how have the Chicago Blackhawks prospects done in the CHL Memorial Cup?  Well lets start with Nathan Noel and Matthew Highmore and their Saint John Sea Dogs whose journey has now come to an end.

In a battle of teams that had not won a game between the Sea Dogs and the Seattle Thunderbirds the Sea Dogs dominated in a 7-0 landslide which earned them the right to go to the Memorial Cup Semi Final. Noel had an assist in this game and Highmore ended the game with two apples.

Unfortunately they had to face the fire power of the Erie Otters again and while they had a better game versus the Otters than the 12-5 drubbing they took they none the less were eliminated from the tournament 6-3.

Nathan Noel ended the event with one goal and one assist in four games and Matthew Highmore ended the tourney with three assists. Congrats boys on a great season and being QMJHL Champions.

My overall thoughts on Nathan Noel was that he is all heart. He reminded me of Andrew Shaw, smaller yet plays a physical game especially in the corners and along the boards. Noel is more of a defensive player used on the penalty kill and he was centering the third line for Saint John which is the checking line.

I see him going to the IceHogs and there everyone will love this guy as he projects a team first all the way.

Matthew Highmore was centering the first line and was used on the power play. The thing about Highmore’s game is he is physical and is always by the oppositions net which is always a good thing.

He ended the tournament with a 50% face-off percentage but it was noticeable in the last game against Erie he won almost every face-off in the defensive zone which everyone can use that skill.

I think Highmore will need some seasoning in Rockford but can be an impactful net front presence and power forward if he works on it. He has really good speed which is a huge asset.

The next game was a battle of the unbeaten teams when the Erie Otters took on the host team Windsor Spitfires for the opportunity to get a pass to the Memorial Cup Final.

I was hyped to see this game. I wanted to see how well both Graham Knott and Alex DeBrincat did against a familiar OHL foe that is very good. Now neither player hit the score sheets and the Spitfires totally frustrated the high powered Otters.

The Spitfires totally blanketed the Otters forwards and their goalie was insanely good that night. DeBrincat had a rough game physically as he was targeted for sure. In fact he had to leave at one point but did make it back into the game.

Since we get a rematch of these two teams for the final I am curious to see how DeBrincat will now make adjustments to deal with no space and time and his response. Welcome to the world of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

This is great preparation for the NHL, becauses believe me there will be even less time and space there and the physicality will be even more ramped up and if your lucky enough to make NHL playoffs that is off the charts intensity so best get ready now if you want a championship at the highest level of hockey.

The encouraging thing for Blackhawks fans is it seems that DeBrincat can take the physical play pretty well and even dishes it occasionally. He and the Otters seemed ready for battle when they downed the Sea Dogs 6-3 in the Semi final to punch their ticket to the final.

We all know how talented DeBrincat is offensively but what I’ve been impressed with is his two way game and his defensive responsibility. In fact in this game he managed to clear a puck away from his crease that got past his goalie and was sitting there ripe for the pouncing.

Good on you Alex for being that down low as a forward acting like a defenseman that will endear you to coach Quenneville for sure. It is little things like that the coaches notice and will keep you in Chicago.

DeBrincat is used in all situations but really shines on the power play where they use him in the high slot where he can tip or pass or just let that rocket of a shot he has go. What is very noticeable about DeBrincat is his hand eye coordination is top notch which explains the high slot positioning.

His line with Dylan Strome and Warren Foegele is just fun to watch as they work off each other. This line ended up this game with two goals one each by Strome and Foegle and four assists three of which came from DeBrincat.

Two of his assists were on Taylor Raddysh power play goals and the other apple was on Dylan Strome’s goal. I think it is highly likely that DeBrincat can make the jump straight to the NHL from the CHL.

I will have a more definitive opinion on him after the final and as I stated earlier how he bounces back and responds against a more NHL like defensive structured team with tight checking, blocking shots, great goalie and clogging up of the neutral zone.

The Erie Otters just have so many scoring threats and fire power it’s hard to keep them suppressed for too long. The final should be a good one against Graham Knott’s Spitfires who seemed like the only team that found a formula to slow them down.

Graham Knott is having a good tournament himself. He currently has two goals and one assist in three games played. Knott played in one less game due to their beating the Otters and not having to play a semi-final game.

Knott’s game is pretty simple he is straight up a power forward on the RW. He is big powerful and just a menace in front of the net with his 6’4″ frame. He screens a lot of shots and for that alone he is impactful in games that may not show up on score sheets.

I need to see more of Knott to give an opinion on if he is ready to go straight to the NHL or not. Sunday I will be watching him and DeBrincat closely. The game thankfully will be on NHL Network at 6pm CT. I would recommend tuning in if your interested at all about the future of the Blackhawks.

With the Blackhawks out of the playoff in what seems like an eternity since we saw them, I am so glad that the NHL Network broadcast the Canadian Sportsnet telecast in the United States of this Memorial Cup.

Not just because I’m not that interest in the NHL playoffs but because it gives us in the States a chance to see the CHL prospects for our teams that we don’t normally get a chance to see. I don’t recall the NHL Network ever broadcasting this before. We can see players on NCAA teams but not generally the CHL.

I’m sure I am not the only one who can’t travel to Erie, PA or Saint John or Windsor although I’m sure those are grand destinations work always seems to get in the way. So thank you NHL Network and Sportsnet so we can get to see these incredibly talented young men continue their journeys to making their NHL teams.

To all the Chicago Blackhawk prospects Good Luck! Those remaining in the tournament and those out we look forward to seeing you either in Rockford or Chicago hopefully.

I will do a final wrap up blog after Sunday’s game to put a bow on this tournament and give a final opinion on DeBrincat and Knott’s game and how they will transition to the NHL and some hidden gems that I spotted that maybe teams should consider drafting this June.

One thing we do know is that one of the Chicago Blackhawks prospects will be a Memorial Cup Champion what an accomplishment.

 

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Chicago Blackhawks prospects in CHL Memorial Cup how are they doing so far?


Chicago, IL — Catching up on the events of the Memorial Cup games three and four, game three saw Graham Knott and his Windsor Spitfires down the Seattle Thunderbirds in a 7-1 Route.

Knott had himself a game. He ended up with 2G, 1A and 5SOG now that is establishing your presence in a game. Knott also has some very good line mates in Logan Brown (Ottawa Senators prospect) and Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs prospect).

Knott’s assist came on a goal by Bracco so to say this line can wreck havoc is an understatement. Knott was named second star of the game as his line mate Logan Brown was first star.

Bracco had 1G,1a and Brown had 1G,2A along with Knotts tallies the line ended up with 4G, 4A. I’d say they had themselves a game.

This line maybe the only one who can give the Erie Otters some trouble who they will be playing against on Wednesday.

Both the Spitfires and Otters are currently undefeated in this tournament so Wednesday’s tilt will be a good one to say the least and could be the decider of who wins the entire tournament.

As I have state before Knott is a power forward. He is big, physical yet skilled. He always seems to go to the net. I can’t wait to see how his line does against the Otters and their stellar defense.

Ah Alex DeBrincat and his Erie Otters what is there to say. The Otters are a well run team both offensively and defensively these kids are really good and fun to watch. They set up plays like a pro team. In fact I’d venture to say they may play as well if not better than some pro teams.

In game four they took on Matthew Highmore and Nathan Noel’s St. John Sea Dogs but this game was finished almost as soon as it started with the Otters thrashing the Sea Dogs 12-5.

It was hard to notice anyone other the DeBrincat and his Otter team. His line mate Dylan Strome (Az Coyotes prospect) set a record for most points in a game with seven 4G,3A. DeBrincat had an assist on three of his goals and tallied a goal of his own for a four point night.

All year long these two along with either Taylor Raddysh or Warren Foegele have just been amazing. I can’t say enough about DeBrincat his shot is heavy and accurate but maybe his passing is even prettier than his shot.

There was a play in particular where he set up Strome on a rush up the ice I swear it looked like Panarin to Kane or Kane to Panarin it was that pretty.

Chicago get ready, not to put pressure on this kid but I can foresee him coming straight to the Blackhawks or if he is in Rockford it will not be long.

His scoring instincts are unreal he is always in an area to score or set up his line mates. Now this isn’t NHL defenders he’s playing against but I’m excited to see his development.

DeBrincat also plays on special teams both power play at the point and on the penalty kill which is great because it is rounding out his game early.

His defensive awareness if high end and his stick work is NHL ready he may just need some strengthening in the wrists but we will have to see.

The goal DeBrincat scored was a blast from the high slot that was accurate because he looked liked he was just trying to get the whistle to blow as there was a delayed penalty call coming and the Otters were already on the PP so he wanted to get a two man advantage.

I guess when you are hot and a goal scorer everything just goes in.

So far in this tournament DeBrincat is third in points, assists, goals and first in power play goals. Now that is production.

Graham Knott is third in power play goals, first goals and plus minus. Again we can see the balance in Knott’s game.

Tonight the St. John Sea Dogs and Highmore and Noel play against the Seattle Thunderbirds and both teams are desperate so this should be a good tilt.

The one to really watch though is Wednesday when the Otters take on the Spitfires in an OHL showdown. I’d say though if you can tune in to all these games.

Good Luck to all the Blackhawks prospects in their games.

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