Tag Archives: Brandon Saad

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 – Deconstruction to a Picasso?


Image result for picasso cubism paintings

Chicago, IL — Pablo Picasso is one of the foremost twentieth century creative minds. His visionary art pushed the artistic envelope more than any other.

Not only did Picasso explore more different types of styles with his periods of Blue, Rose, African, Cubism, Classism & Surrealism but he employed different mediums as well.

Picasso used not only painting but sculpting, collage and ceramics this also illustrates an ingenuity with flexibility to change.

The Chicago Blackhawks can only hope to achieve some of this type of creativity and success with their recent changes.

Think the Picasso Bull deconstruction when thinking of the Blackhawks right now and Stan Bowman may only be on plate 4 in his abstract deconstruction.

What the final picture will be who knows. One can only hope it ends with a silver Cup.

Part of the deconstruction was the trading of Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad which will definitely give the Hawks a much different look.

There is no question part of what will be leaving with Panarin is 20 offensive points but what the Hawks will gain is more of a two way play with Saad which hopefully leads to better possession numbers.

The other benefit to Saad’s game is he also had more D-zone starts as opposed to Panarin which gives the Hawks more flexibility as well with lines and players.

The other thing losing Panarin his points coming from the power play.

This leaves a spot there as well along the left half wall which will most likely be filled by Patrick Sharp.

Welcome back Patrick Sharp. I have no question about Sharp’s hip injury and his ability to be ready come day one.

I am a little more concerned with his concussions and I hope this is not an issue going forward as no one really understands what goes on with this.

For this reason I would prefer to see Sharp on the third line rather than the second line with more exposure being with Patrick Kane.

There is the possiblity of getting more hits with more visibility but we shall see how this plays out.

I’ve got to say Sharp has a great attitude any young player should watch him and learn. Sharp also brings more speed up front.

What will be missed is Hossa in a lot of different areas. He had 26 G and 19 A last year.

The Hawks are looking for Nick Schmaltz, Tomas Jurco  and maybe some youth in Alex DeBrincat or Graham Knott or Alex Fortin to step up and surprise. All of this will have to be sorted through come training camp.

With the Hossa departure it should not be forgotten his work on the power play and penalty kill which both Saad and Sharp should help with these.

Speaking of special teams in particular the penalty kill had a rough start and really never recovered due to the poor start.

With the departure of Kruger, Hossa, Rasmussen and probably Desi an entirely different look for Pk will be forthcoming. Sharp, Saad and newcomer Tommy Wingels can all fill in on the PK.

Speaking of which Stan Bowman really has changed the bottom six look with bringing in Tommy Wingels from Ottawa and Lance Bouma from Calgary both bring more physicality and direct straight line play. Hopefully more net front presence than what the Hawks have had as well.

How the bottom six shakes out will be interesting Bouma, Jurco, Hinostroza, Dauphin, Hayden will all be vying for spots in camp which again should be interesting to watch how this develops.

My concern is at the face off dot because outside of Jonathan Toews there is no one even now at center that is over 50%.

Coaching here will be the key. Wingels, Sharp and Bouma can all play center so we shall see who can improve here.

Perhaps though the scariest part of this deconstruction is the defense.

Outside of Keith and Seabrook there is a tremendous leap of faith that younger unproven guys can step up and in without giving up too much.

Eyes will be on Connor Murphy who will have to fill in for a great dman in Hjalmarsson leaving fair or not.

Murphy is more physical and younger but it remains to be seen what and how all the changes on the back end will affect the overall team defense.

Murphy, Rutta, Kempny, Forsling, Gustafsson and Jordan Oesterle like the forwards will all get their shot to show what they can bring and make the Hawks see they can’t do without them.

Toss in the Hawks also have new assistant coaches and you really aren’t sure if we have the next Picasso masterpiece or dogs playing poker poster.

To go from a known substance in how it looks and how it feels to an unknown new look that makes the surreal esthetically pleasing takes guts and skilled craftsmanship.

Unlike art tho sports depends on elements outside the artists control, making this endeavor extremely bold.

Only time will tell but one has to have faith and believe these decisions will work out the best maybe not this year but in the long run.

Question is can the critics (fans) see the vision or end game if there is no initial success to their standards?

If the Hawks make another first round exit or heaven forbid don’t even make the playoffs what changes will then be made and where? To the front office, coaching, players?

It’s scary to deconstruct for everyone but it is probably the least scary for the fans because they know they’ll be back the following year regardless of how the team does.

The others can’t say the same which should provide plenty of motivation this year.

So Hawks fans if your feeling scared or unsure remember, to forge into greatness risks always need to be taken especially if they’re not initially understood.

In season changes and finer brush strokes also can be applied as well. Another thing you can never say the Chicago Blackhawks are dull or uninventive that’s for sure.
 

image is Picasso Cubism period

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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 – Globalizing


Chicago, IL — We are only three weeks away from training camp so it is time to talk hockey again, specifically NHL Chicago Blackhawks hockey. Speaking personally I have never been more ready for this season to begin.

In fact it is rare that I focus on the next year when my team is in the middle of trying to win another Stanley Cup. That scenario though is exactly what happened when the Blackhawks announced back in spring, they had signed Artemi Panarin from the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg team.

I could hardly contain myself, was I reading the reports right? Was I in a Hawkey fantasy land? Was I just wishful thinking? Was this for real?

For those Blackhawks fans that follow religiously the IIHF World Juniors, Artemi Panarin is a name they should be very familiar with and we all know the skill and potential that he brings.

Yes I know it was on larger ice however, there are certain skills that translate like vision, stickhandling & scoring I. Q.

Panarin posses all of these. Sure there will be an adjustment period but, given Panarin is experienced and has played on the highest international stages you would have to think he will be able to master the NHL transition better than say a 20 year old.

Panarin’s biggest challenge will be the pace and lack of space one is given in the NHL. Give him time he’ll figure it out like another young European prospect Teuvo Teravainen.

As Hawks fans we saw with Teuvo him develop right before our eyes in the playoffs and he only got better as the playoffs went along. Panarin like Teravainen has a high hockey intelligence and will make adjustments when needed.

Panarin will also need to be mindful of the defensive zone but as a winger his responsibilities will be less than if he was a center. My understanding is Panarin will definitely be slotted as a winger not a center which, I think is best at least to begin with.

Teravainen may in fact be moved to center which, I guess we will find out come training camp. Teravainen certainly has played that position before and has at Blackhawks prospect camps in the past so it is not something he will be unfamiliar with. His two way game is overshadowed by his high end offense.

Also coming from the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg team is countryman Viktor Tikhonov a former Arizona Coyotes prospect that was drafted in 2008 28th overall. He was passed on his first two times of eligibility like Andrew Shaw and we see how that turned out.

Viktor is another winger but brings with him size. He may not crack the lineup on a regular basis we will have to see how this goes but he has a better opportunity with the Blackhawks than he did with Coyotes. He will certainly be given every opportunity to make the line-up.

Nothing against the developement and training staff in Arizona but the Blackhawks staff is the best in the business and will work with Viktor if there are any short comings and the Hawks will know how and when to utilize Tikhonov’s skills.

For those that attended this past Blackhawks convention or were able to catch it on the Hawks website or via steaming when it was live Viktor is seemingly a very thoughtful, charming young man who will have no trouble making the transition to the western life and language as he has lived in the United States before so his concentration can just be on the ice and adapting to the NHL.

Viktor probably needs to concentrate on his skating and speed to stay in the Hawks lineup. Let’s face it, the Hawks are a team built on these two skills so to have good speed, doesn’t need to be blinding, and being strong on your skates will go along way to keep you in the Hawks lineup.

Tikhonov is more of a two-way player which should serve him well as we all know coach Q loves you to be defensively responsible in your own end. On the Blackhawks he doesn’t necessarily need to be an offensive dynamo which is a huge difference from the Coyotes.

While it was a surprise that Brandon Saad will no longer be in a Blackhawks uniform it was amazing who Stan Bowman was able to get back in return.

Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano came to the Hawks in the Saad trade and if things project out as expected Bowman was able to secure a 2nd line Center in Anisimov who is younger than Brad Richards with more miles left on the tires and is a better two-way forward.

Stan Bowman thinks Anisimov is the answer at 2nd line center otherwise he would not have given him an extension for five years. Anisimov is an excellent two-way hockey player.

He has struggled at times with consistency but on the Hawks that may not be an issue given the talent surrounding him. His offensive potential may be ignited particularly if he has Panarin and hopefully Patrick Kane on either side. Woo buddy look out he may reach his offensive potential.

The hidden gem in this deal was Marko Dano who was basically the Columbus Blue Jackets Teuvo Teravainen. Dano is offensively talented with a shot that makes him a lethal scorer maybe a better scoring threat than Brandon Saad. Dano is also a very good skater.

Dano needs to work on his two-way game but let’s not forget Saad become a solid two-way player due to his linemates of Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews and it’s already been well documented Dano is set to learn and clone from Hossa his countryman.

If, and that’s a big if, Dano can crack that first line he will be in a perfect position to improve his two-way game and learn from two of the best all around hockey players in the world in 19 & 81. If he can do this night in and night out he’ll learn fast.

While most of the Hawks new forward additions are more offensively inclined and people worry about two-way play suffering lets not forget the Hawks still have some pretty solid defenseman like Keith, Seabrook & Hjalmarsson.

You remember the three that anchored that defense to a third Cup and couldn’t possibly sustain all that playing time and physical punishment.

Yeah those guys will be back. Oh that goalie no one ever respects who just keeps racking up Jennings trophys and Stanley Cup Championships, Yeah that’s right Chicago, Corey Crawford will be back as well.

Honestly the transition will be the hardest for Panarin coming from a different ice surface, culture with language obstacles and cultural differences but Panarin has stated he wants to push himself both on and off the ice.

Will this be a challenge and change for sure but, he is coming to a city that is so diverse and has something to offer for everyone to enjoy and partake in and on the ice..

He is coming to a team that has the best players in the world to watch and learn from and hopefully they can learn from Panarin & Tikhonov as well who come in bringing a fresh, new insight to the game.

My only suggestion for all the offensive players mind your two-way game and your play along the boards as wingers be strong on the puck with no turnovers and get to the oppositions front of the net/slot area and pick up garbage and you’ll be fine.

Now there are other new players to the Hawks as well from Dallas, free agent signings and NCAA prospects but this blog was just focused on the international changes in another blog I will discuss those.

The Hawks have gotten younger for sure which may serve them well if they are to make another run deep in the playoffs. We all know how hard it is to repeat as a SC champion.

It has not been done since 1997-98 of course by the Detroit Red Wings. hmmm wasn’t that team composed of a lot of European players too? I’m just saying.

All I know is it is very exciting thinking about the line combinations, skills, development and all the possibilities that we may see on the ice.

Is it October yet?

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Chicago Blackhawks – with the 27th pick select…


Chicago, IL — Now that the 2013-14 season is in the books it is time to think about next year and the future. Stan Bowman is I’m sure.

The upcoming resigning of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane has never made it more imperative to make sure that there is a sufficient supply of upcoming youngsters for some time so these two franchise players stay in the Indianhead jersey til they physically can not skate any more. Stan, that is what Chicago wants, so please make it so. Which means in order to afford what these two will deserve they will need to have young skill surrounding them in the pipeline to stay within the cap.

Now that the playoffs are over we know where the Hawks will be selecting. Unless the Hawks make trades or draft day trades they currently have the following picks:

Rd 1 – 27th pick overall
Rd 2- none pick to Phoenix Coyotes for David Rundblad and Matthieu Brisbois
Rd 3- 62nd & 88th the extra pick is from the Florida Panthers as part of the Brandon Pirri trade.
Rd 4- 93rd pick is actually from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the Dave Bolland trade. Chicago’s own pick was sent to the NY Islanders for Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Rd 5 – 141st & 148th the extra pick is from the San Jose Sharks as part of draft picks trades done in 2013 draft day.
Rd 6- 178th pick
Rd 7-208th pick

Without a 2nd round pick it is very important that the first round selection is a good one. Not that you can not pick up good players in later rounds but it is important to get your higher rounds right for your team. That being said let’s take a look at the potential candidates that will be available with the 27th overall pick. The focus here is on who would fit the Hawks organization the best.

These names could go anywhere from as high as 17th. Remember Teuvo Teravainen and Brandon Saad went much lower and fell to the Blackhawks. They fell not because they weren’t valued but teams scouts assess differently so it is possible for higher picks to fall if the player does not fit the organizations skills assessment and need. Some teams value size,some speed, some versatility you get the idea, with that here we go.

Alex Tuch,RW – Not sure this one will be there for the Blackhawks but this is a a pure power forward with excellent forechecking skills. He also has size at 6’3″ he’s a big American boy. The scouting reports on him is he has one of the heaviest shots in the draft.

Nikita Scherbak,RW – This Russian who is skilled, skilled & skilled would fit perfectly with the Hawks. The problem is he is Russian and could opt for the KHL but his set up skills and overall offensive upside maybe enough to take a gamble on. Scouting reports say he has good mobility and some slick hands hmm sounds like a couple of other Hawks. His size is decent at 6’1″ and his overall skills maybe too much to ignore.

Conner Bleackley,C – This 6′ Canadian has the triple crown of hockey, size, skill & strenth. He is a 200′ ft forward that does not mind getting dirty with good hockey sense. He opens up passing lanes & is a leader to boot. He was named captain of his Red Deer Rebels team. He needs to work on skating speed but other than that he is NHL ready. He has also been described as a hard worker. How could any team pass on this combo.

Nick Schmaltz,RW – This is a 5’11” American that has all around skills. He is a good 200′ player with play making abilities. He is low key but paired with dynamic offensive players of which the Hawks have plenty this kid could thrive. He is also a local kid from WI as we saw last draft the Hawks like local kids when they selected Ryan Hartman.

John Quenneville,C – yes that Quenneville. He is the 2nd cousin of Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach which may make for some sticky situations but this kid has the goods to deliver. Scouting reports say the kid has a nose for the net which the Hawks could use more of. He does everything well with good size already at 6′ and 182lbs.

This draft is not said to be particularly good for defenseman so I don’t see the Hawks taking any early. There is a good American goalie Thatcher Demko that could be available at 27th pick but again I don’t see the Blackhawks taking a goalie early.

Other than winning the Stanley Cup I can’t think of a more exciting time in a franchises season or one more filled with promise for fans. Stan Bowman and Mark Kelly Director of amateur scouting have done very well in the past and there is no reason to think their impeccable record will stop now. Happy Drafting.

Information was compiled from Hockey Futures – http://www.Hockeyfutures.com , Elite Prospects – http://www.eliteprospects.com, NHL draft center –www.NHL.com ; The Hockey News -www.thehockeynews.com

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Chicago Blackhawks – Metamorphosis of a team


Chicago, IL – “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” – Viktor Frankl 1

If you look at the Chicago Blackhawks roster, there does not seem to be much change at all in personnel.  There appears to be only a couple of changes on the blue line with off season acquisitions of Sheldon Brookbank and Mikhal Rozsival.  Upon further examination the team has the same players but oh how they have changed.

KaneHossa

Patrick Kane has stated he has something to prove and wants to be “The Guy”. Whatever it is his focus is singular and clearly on the ice. Fueled by trade rumors Kane is out to prove his detractors clearly know nothing of what they speak. We all have seen his skill and talent so it is hard to believe he has another level but he has. While it is early in the season he is playing more consistently and has even more patience with the puck which is good news for his linemates and bad news for the opposition.  He currently leads his team with 7 points (2G, 4A) in four games.

Marian Hossa like Kane also has something to prove. Hossa wants to prove to everyone that he has fully recovered from his concussion last year and proving it he is. He is currently leading the team in goals with 5 goals in 4 games. Guess you could say Hossa is back to his old self thankfully.  Hossa stayed in Chicago and practiced with some of his team mates due to his recovering from concussion.  Hossa is also playing with an edge maybe even a little bit of anger at being knocked out of the playoffs by the dirty Raffi Torres hit.

Bolly

Dave Bolland is now playing the second line center role which is a different approach to his normal third line center role. Bolland now has an opportunity to concentrate on the offensive part of his game. He also has an upgrade in line mates to the Patricks. Bolland’s hidden offensive talents will now be given an opportunity to shine. He is cashing in on that opportunity with 2G and 1A in four games. With Bolland stepping up offensively this could be a major change with more offensive skill up front like the Hawks were lacking in that department.

Corey Crawford like Kane is showing more focus and definitely has something to prove if you listen to the media after last years first round playoff exit. He recently revealed to the local media he has changed his pre-game routine and it is paying off. He no longer plays pre-game soccer with the boys. He now stays to himself and focuses on his preparation and focus for the game. If Crawford can regain his rookie form this may be the most significant change on the team.  Crawford at ease

Daniel Carcillo is a changed man and has gone all Zen on us. He revealed to WGN Radio that due to his off season injury he had much time to, if you will look at the man in the mirror and he did not particularly like what he was seeing. Carcillo decided to make a change in how he approaches the game and focus more on hockey and less on being an enforcer. Carcillo was also slated on the top line with Toews and Hossa, unfortunately Carcillo is once again injured but in that first game he played in there was a much more calm Carcillo. Carcillo always had skill he just chose not to highlight that side of his game. Meditation is a wonderful thing that we should all insert in our lives.

Viktor Stalberg, Bryan Bickell, Nik Hjalmarsson, Michael Frolik all spent time in Europe during the NHL lockout in different leagues and the changes and improvements in the games shows. Some of these guys are also in the final years of their contracts which also provides motivation. All of them are much more confident and their hockey IQ is at another level. If all of these guys stay at this other level that will make it much easier for the Hawks to roll four lines and bring overall balance to the team.

Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are not logging as much ice time which is a good thing. These guys will stay fresher down the stretch and if the Hawks make a playoff run this pay immediate dividends. Keith is playing like a man possessed again dare we say back to his Norris Trophy form – so far yes. Maybe Keith also feels he has something to prove and the chip is back on his shoulders.

Brandon Saad  as a rookie in the NHL it can be overwhelming but Saad has looked at home on the first line with Toews and Hossa. Saad was ready to fill in after Carcillo went down. He is playing with a steadiness beyond his years. You have no worries that he will make a crucial mistake with the puck because he is so balanced and solid in his skates.  He has not tallied the score sheets yet but it is only a matter of time. He wants to prove he belongs with the big boys .

Nick Leddy, Brandon Bollig ,Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger have all had to adapt to the NHL game pace but having spent time in Rockford has kept them in game shape. The biggest adjustment for them is to play on the edge but not over and not take bad penalties. Shaw is being given third line center duties between Stalberg and Bickell which is a huge opportunity for him.

HawkslearningJPG

The Blackhawks will lose at some point but with their new-found patience and confidence there is no worry they will bounce back. The roster is the same but the demeanor, attitude and growth of this team is different. The skills have always been there but now the focus is more defined.

The Blackhawks have always had a good team since winning the cup in 2010,  but like a butterfly emerging from the cocoon there is a new maturity and confidence this team now exudes. Whether it is that they feel they have something to prove or having their livelihood taken from them temporarily, it is evident these Hawks are ready to fly beautifully onto another level maybe both on and off the ice.

Follow me on twitter @sportshashhash

1.

  • Viktor Frankl from Man’s search for meaning

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Chicago Blackhawks – Going Camping


Chicago, IL — With the Blackhawks prospect camp running this week, the Hawks are hoping that they may hit the jackpot with some of these young hockey players. Free Agency may not have played out the way they exactly wanted til this point but there is still plenty to be optimistic about the future and these kids are why.

There are so many potential stars in this years’ camp it is almost hard to know who and what to look for. The Hawks are rich at the forward positions and the rich got richer in the past two years drafts. Landing Saad & Teravainen in the slots the Hawks had is a coo. All of their picks will be in attendance so go check out the future of the Hawks. There are several prospects that I will be watching.

From the 2011 draft I will be looking at Brandon Saad and what I’ll be looking at is now that he has played with the big club and had a monster year in juniors alot will be expected from him. The Hawks were very fortunate indeed that Saad was even left at the 43rd pick in round two. He was projected to go in the first round at the 23rd spot. The stars aligned very well for the Hawks.

I’m expecting he should stand out amongst the rest of the prospects who have not had NHL experience. I look for Saad this year to make the starting line-up of the Hawks as a top six forward. Whether Saad is flanking Toews on the left-wing or playing opposite Marian Hossa, he should contribute solid two-way play this year for the Hawks. Look for #43.

Mark McNeill who was the Blackhawks first overall pick last year at 18 is very intriguing. Could Mark be the 2nd line center that the Hawks have been looking for? He could just be. Mark will have a lot of work to do to impress and make the coach’s feel comfortable to put him is such a key role. To crack a top six spot on the Hawks will be hard but not impossible.  I will be watching #11 and see how he does in camp.

He is a big physical player that should be ready for the NHL. I will focus on his defensive play and faceoff skills. He will also have to battle Marcus Krueger as well once the Hawks open their training camp with the veterans. Krueger is solid defensively so this should be interesting. It is also possible one of them makes 2nd line and the other 4th line center. If McNeill can do solid work in the dot who knows he may make the team. McNeill is definitely one to keep your eyes on.

Phillip Danault is another first round pick from the 2011 draft that is probably a dark horse to make the team this year. He may just surprise everyone and pull an Andrew Shaw and exceed everyone’s expectations. His work ethic is top shelf and character too so anything is possible. Danault also loves to play in front of the net and could provide the Hawks with that net front presence that the need. Coaches always love dedication and hard work so Danault could be right in the mix so keep your eyes on #4.

From this years’ draft all eyes will be on first rounder Teuvo Teravainen who will be donning the #29 jersey. Anyone who cites Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Kane as their role models is someone you’re going to want to watch. Because of the run on defensemen the Hawks became benefactors in getting such a skilled forward. I’m interested in seeing his puck handling skills which according to scouts is already NHL ready. Look for this kid to dazzle in camp. He has played professionally in Europe on the Finnish Elite team Jokerit so his skills should be NHL ready it just a question of his size.

Teuvo will probably not make the Hawks this year due to his size and needing to still physically develop but that doesn’t mean he will not thrill the locals at camp.

At the forward position also look for Kevin Hayes (Jimmy Hayes brother) who was drafted in 2010 to also make a push at center. Chris Calnan who is the nephew of Jeremy Roenick, and plays a power forward style is a very good forechecker which the Hawks are in need of. Calnan will either play in college or juniors this year but look for him down the road.

On the defensive side of the puck, the Hawks have fewer prospects but there are some to keep an eye on.

Klas Dahlbeck is a big Swedish defenseman who is playing in the SEL he will be sporting the #64. He is a good skater and adept at breakout passing which the Hawks love their defensemen to do.  I doubt Klas will break the Hawks lineup yet what I will be looking for with him is his stick work when defending and his gap control.  Not known to be physical despite his size but is considered a defensive defensemen. I would love to see how he defends against McNeill and Saad if he can stop them he might just be NHL ready.

Adam Clendening is the opposite of Dahlbeck in that he would be considered an offensive defenseman. I will be looking for his shot from the point which scouts have highly touted. This could be a weapon the Hawks could use on the power play. He has excellent puck moving and skating abilities and finesse for a big blueliner. Another Boston U recruit the coaches will be taking a long look at Clendening. Look for #8.

Look for and you probably won’t miss Victor Svedberg at 6”9” which is Chara like sizing so he will stand out on the ice. Dillion Fournier will not be participating due to injury.

The Goalies in camp will probably not make the Hawks team but they will be interesting to watch as well. They all have good size at 6’2” or higher. Mac Carruth, Kent Simpson, Matt Tompkins and Johan Mattson and the big boy at 6’5” Brandon Whitney should be interesting.

There is a lot of promise in the Hawks prospect system and while not all of these prospects will make the NHL some of them will and will provide some excitement at the United Center for years to come.

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