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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 – Battle Central


Chicago, IL — We are fourteen games into the 2015-16 and the Hawks are sitting in 6th place in their division which, would mean that if the playoffs started today they would miss the playoffs. The playoffs however do not start today and there is still a lot of hockey left to be played.

Before panic sets in the Hawks record of 7-6-1 is exactly the same at this time last year and we all know how that year ended. Still it is a slight cause for concern.

Have the Hawks changed yes but maybe what has changed more is their competition in the Central Division which is the best division in the NHL. That means the Hawks do not have the luxury of taking any games off.

Last year at this time the Hawks with that record were in fourth in the division, same record now they sit at sixth and the Dallas Stars sit atop the division.

Taking a cursory look over the Stars schedule it does not really get that difficult til February which at that point this whole race maybe over.

The Stars are a much better team ironically because of the additions of former Hawks like Sharp, Oduya & Niemi. Couple that with two dynamic superstars in Jaime Benn & Tyler Seguin and it has spelled success so far.

The one thing though is the Stars have NOT played a Central Division opponent yet so lets see how they do against them.

Who is scary is the St. Louis Blues simply because they are missing so many of their players due to injury and are still finding ways to win particularly against their own divisional opponents.

Then again this is the regular season where the Blues always do well it is the playoffs where they struggle. Still the Hawks have no excuses if the Blues can win without key players you know the Hawks can.

While it is still too early to panic for the Hawks there are several things that need to be cleaned up.

One – the showing up to games late. By the time the Hawks wake up the game is over because the opposition has scored too many goals for them to overcome.

Two – with a bunch of young new players it is understandable that defensive positioning and awareness might suffer but you can’t say it is just the youth making the errors. As Nik Hjalmarsson said he made a big boo boo. It’s ok Nik you’re not alone and that unfortunately contributes to the problem.

Three – Goaltending the past couple of games needs to be better and they know that. I have no worries the Goalies will bounce back, but they need help they can not do things alone.

Four – Scoring outside of Patrick Kane has been sketchy at best. Why? Partially, youth deferring to passing to others instead of taking shots, no net front presence and not getting to the middle of the ice have all contributed. It also is harder to score when your chasing from behind.

Five – You’re the champs so everyone wants to beat you to validate their own position. Watching a Blues game and listening to their announcers, which by the way was not against the Hawks, they were talking so much about what the Hawks do it was uncanny.

If their announcers are that lock scoped on what the Hawks are doing what do you think the Blues and ever other team in the Central are doing then. They have studied them and their tendencies so much the Hawks need to be less predictable.

Six – This could be an anomaly but for whatever reason they can’t seem to find their mojo on the road. I know the team knows Chicago fans love them and maybe they miss the Hawks fans but guys you gotta figure this out because only winning home games will not get you to the playoffs.

In his post game presser Captain Jonathan Toews addressed all of the issues they know what they need to fix starting with showing up to play from the start and minding your defensive awareness particularly in your own end and neutral zone.

With Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa gone there is no question the impact on the defensive side of the game has missed them but everyone then needs to step up and we all know they can with those back to back shut outs against some very good teams. Everyone just needs to get their head in the game and think defense.

The Hawks know what they need to do which doesn’t have me too worried. Now though they do have to go execute it and they should be fine.

The Hawks do need to wake up though because they have already dropped a couple of games to divisional opponents in the Jets, Blues and Wild. That more than anything needs to change but they all know that.

The positives that are occurring is that the young players are getting invaluable playing minutes and experience. This is what is called growing pains, if the Hawks can get through this still close to their opposition in this division they will be alright.

I’ve always appreciated the skills and talents of Patrick Kane but I think this year more than any I really appreciate it. He can score goals and get points with any line mates.

Also I have seen a developement in his game as well. Yes even superstars get better. His backchecking and checking along the boards has improved. His defensive game is solid. Believe it or not he leads the team in +/- with 9 and he is not as predictable with the puck.

That last statements are what the young forwards need to do. Watch Patrick Kane you have no idea what he is going to do shoot, pass, skate, spin who knows fly, disappear he just leaves you guessing. Try to be a little less predictable it will make it harder on defenseman and goalies. Mind your defensive positioning and you must try to win board battles even if it means sacrificing offense.

Same thing could be said of Jonathan Toews you have no idea what he is going to do shoot, pass make a power rush to the net – mix it up and keep them guessing.

What has me optimistic though is some of the young players like Tanner Kero, Ryan Hartman and Marko Dano all have gotten their first points with the Hawks so that will go along way if they can continue and contribute to a more balanced attack.

The young defenseman like TVR, Gustafsson & Svedberg are all learning a very difficult position on the job. One mistake at this position and the puck could be in the back of your net. That’s ok learn, develop and in the long run the team will be all the better for it.

I have to say I have been very impressed with all of these defenseman for young guys they have a very good understanding of what they need to do which is why forwards you need to help a bit here. Mind the gaps, get sticks in lanes and take the body you’ll be fine.

I have no doubts that the Hawks just need to clean up some sloppy defensive play and things will turn around just don’t wait to long to do this. I also would love it if Patrick Kane got points leader in the league since his injury derailed him last year but I digress.

The Hawks will be forced to face their road problems soon with the circus trip upcoming because if they don’t they could be in a world of hurt but coach Quenneville will not let them slack off and will get them right defensively.

Maybe look at your selves and what your tendencies are and change it up a bit. Don’t change who you are but mix it up a little that’s all depending on opponents.

The good thing is there is tons of hockey left, next up the Oilers so the Hawks better have their skating legs with them.

GO HAWKS!

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – Building Blocks


Chicago, IL — We are a fifth of the way through this abbreviated season and the Blackhawks have already shored up their weakness from last year namely their defensive play.

If there was one thing that really hurt the Hawks last year it was an overall neglect of the defensive play which resulted in too many turnovers and the inability to clear pucks that got the Hawks in trouble. That is not the case this year.

As a team the Blackhawks are ranked 3rd overall in +/- in the league. They are 7th overall in Blockshots and 3rd in blockshots on the road where the majority of their games have been played.

And perhaps the biggest turnaround is their penalty kill which last year was a dreadful 27th and is now 1st among all teams with an incredible 94.9% kill percentage.

Credit the coaches and players for rectifying this. We are not really sure if it was more time off in the summer or just a greater recognition of the importance of defensive play but the results are showing in a big way. The Hawks are still the only team with no regulation losses in the entire league and their defensive play is a big part of this.

While this takes a team effort the defenseman must be singled out here for leading the charge.

seabsatrest

Brent Seabrook is leading the charge with 27 blocked shots which is 3rd best in the NHL. While Seabrook has not gotten off to a great start for him and some rust is showing, he is making big plays when it counts.  As the season wears on he will be a greater force which is bad news for scorers around the league.

Duncan Keith while his stats don’t indicate it and he and Seabrook have a pedestrian +/-  he is starting to look like the Duncan Keith of old. His stick work is top-notch and has saved many a goals. His awareness of when to join the rush is well, unparalleled on this team.

Niklas Hjalmarsson has really found his game and is coming into his own as a very good all around defenseman.  He probably is the most improved Dman on the team. He is 11th in league in blocked shots with 24. He also is tied for 4th in the league in takeaways and is a +6 which is 9th best among defenseman and 11th among all skaters. Right now it can be argued he is this teams best defenseman.

HammerJPG

Johnny Oduya what a pick up this guy has been. Oduya compliments this team very well. He also is 17th in the NHL in block shots with 22. He is currently third of all NHL skaters with +9 rating. Like Keith, Oduya just seems to have a knack for knowing when to join the rush and when not.

All of the Hawks defenseman are very good passers and know how to outlet their zones quickly, which is a key to getting out of your end and transitioning to offense.

With the Hawks being so skilled with blocking shots this indicates a fearlessness and a team first attitude which I’m sure their goalies appreciate.

The high takeaway ranking  Hjalmarsson has is indicative of his ability to win battles in the corners of his own zone and his stick work. Working out in Europe has really developed Hjalmarsson into a very well-rounded dman.

One can also see the maturation of Nick Leddy. He is much more confident with the puck and does not turnover the puck in his own zone which is key. Leddy has always been a very good offensive defenseman and this is continuing this year as well. He currently leads all the Hawks defenseman in points with five.

Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank have been solid as well. Both were good pick ups to solidify the back end.

Defense however is not just the defenseman’s responsibility and with the Hawks off to a 8-0-2 the forwards have taken up the defensive tasks as well.  As mentioned previously the Blackhawks are 3rd in the league overall in +/- with five players in the top 10 of +/- on the road which is where the majority of the Hawks games have been played.

Oduya – 1st

Toews – 2nd

Hammer – 5th

Kane – 7th

Hossa – 8th

Goals will come and go but if you have a solid team defense that will keep you in games you increase your chances of winning very tight games. The Hawks are building a defensive wall and so far it is solid. Defense is the foundation of which championships are laid.  If the Hawks continue on this path, this team will be very tough to beat.

Are they perfect no. I still think they give away too many pucks either in their zone or the neutral zone but you must have something to improve on right?

FeddyJPG

The Penalty kill turnaround has been huge and a shout out to the killers Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik for doing yeomen’s work. It isn’t sexy but  it can win games and is an important component to a hockey game. 

Overall everyone from the front office to coaches to players to fans have to be pleasantly pleased with the defensive play of this team so far. They are not only building blocks to a solid foundation, they are building what could be an impenetrable fortress.

 

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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

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  • Viktor Frankl from Man’s search for meaning

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Chicago Blackhawks – Playing GM with the Defense



Chicago, IL — I can’t think of a single position that is more important this offseason for Stan Bowman to get right. All of the talk about second line centers is fine but I think the primary need of this team is having the right defensive core. Last year we saw what having spotty defense is and how costly it is. It is no coincidence that the teams to make the conference finals were all solid defensively. It also doesn’t hurt to have a stand out goalie. The Blackhawks goalie situation is a question mark which makes having a solid D unit all the more important.

This week Sami Lepisto signed with the KHL and will be playing in Russia next year. Sean O’Donnell all but said goodbye to Chicago & and the Hawks stating he did not foresee a return to the Windy City. Johnny Oduya was resigned for what I think is a little too much money. I am however happy with the signing. I think Oduya was signed for the most part to steady young Nick Leddy
That leaves a D core of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, Nik Hjalmarsson, Steve Montador, Dylan Olsen. I believe the Hawks still need more size and physicality on the back-end, they have too many of the same type of defencemen. I think everyone would agree that Keith/Seabrook are going nowhere. This is the Hawks top duo and in fact last year Seabrook was probably better than Keith at least he was on the stats sheets. He led all the D-men with +21 rating and was 9thin the NHL with 198 hits and with only 22 PIM Wow that getting bang for your buck. On top of that Seabs led the D with 165 block shots. Can we get a carbon copy of this guy? The Hawks need a reliable D-man that can spot Seabs & Duncs some playing minutes to keep them fresh.


Dylan Olsen is in a great position to crack the Hawks lineup with his size being desperately needed. Last year he gained valuable playing time with the Hawks. He partnered well with Keith. If he can be more physical and learn to use his size the Hawks may already have their Seabrook type defenseman. He has to be given the time and right environment to develop and not be pushed to quickly like Leddy. He needs to improve foot speed but he is wise beyond his years with the puck and has a booming shot too.

Steve Montador we are still not sure of his injury status or where he will be come September. This could keep Hjalmarsson in a Hawks uniform. Montador will be difficult to move so he will in most likelihood stay with the Hawks for now. Hjalmarsson has a cap hit in the 3.5 range that is a hefty price tag for a 5th 6th D man. Still he is young and coachable at 25 yrs old. Hammer’s biggest problem is his lack of physicality and sometimes he has problems getting the puck out of his own end when pressured. Still he had +9 rating and 142 block shots. The question for Stan is that worth 3.5mil next year? & is there anyone out there who is better for less?

This year is not the best for UFA/RFA D-men. There are big names like Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Mike Green and Dennis Wideman who are probably all too rich for the Hawks blood. Ryan Suter would be great in a Hawks uni but I doubt now with Detroit’s Nik Lidstrom retiring that the Red Wings will not make a serious push for Suter. I doubt the Hawks want to enter into a bidding war with the Wings as they have more money to spend than the Hawks. This also could explain the timing of the Oduya signing.

There are a couple of UFA’s that are intriguing for the Hawks. Jason Garrison of the Florida Panthers and Shane O’Brien of the Colorado Avalanche both have higher hit totals than Hjalmarsson and Garrison also didn’t have a significantly lower number in block shots either. Garrison is a much more offensive defenseman and had a monster year on with 33 points 16G/17A.Then again he was paired with All Star defenseman Brian Campbell remember him? He also made Hjalmarsson look good too when he was paired with him. I doubt Dale Tallon will be letting Garrison go but if he did this one would be worth looking into. He right now only has a salary cap hit of 700K and is due a payday but if it is reasonable this one could be a steal.

Shane O”Brien I think would be a nice addition for the Hawks and while he does not have the block shots Hammer does he does bring size and physicality that they need. He was 38th in the NHL with 138 hits & at 6’3” 230 lbs won’t be being pushed around and can clear bodies from in front of the net. The Avs have practically their whole roster as either UFA’s or RFA’s so they will not be in position to sign them all. Why not take a run at O’Brien? The Avs need more fire power up front so possibly a forward prospect could be dangled here.

While I think the Hawks have too many rookies on their backend with Leddy and Olsen still learning and developing I would not be surprised if they bring another one or two up for salary cap reasons. If they did who are the most likely candidates?

The Hawks have in their system Adam Clendening, Klas Dahlbeck Stephen Johns, Ryan Stanton & Shawn LaLonde. Adam Clendening was just recently signed a rookie contract by the Hawks. He is much more of an offensive defensemen ala Brian Campbell. He has the skills to be a QB on the powerplay and that is his greatest asset. I think he is on the small side and still needs time to develop at BU.

Shawn LaLonde is another offensive defenseman who maybe on his last leg with the Blackhawks. His decision making skills are not the best and turnovers have killed LaLonde in the AHL. It is hard to imagine that would improve in the NHL. This is probably LaLonde’s last chance to impress the Hawks other wise he will be used as trade bait. He is entering his final year of his contract. The Hawks will take a long hard look at this one in camp.

Klas Dahlbeck, Stephen Johns and Ryan Stanton are all of the stay at home or defensive defensemen types which is more what the Hawks need right now. Johns plays a brutal physical game but I think he needs time in Rockford before making the jump to the Hawks. He is only 19 years old and could use more experience. Still look for this one in the future if Olsen does not work out on the blueline for the Hawks.

Ryan Stanton was called up by the Hawks during the playoffs and again he is a physical D-man that could help them clearing bodies out in front of their net. He plays a solid steady game and could make the jump to the big club if he shows steady consistent play on the blue line. Look for Stanton to possibly make the team.

If I were the GM, unless Garrison or O’Brien could be gotten I would hold Hammer for now pending the health status of Montador. There is no question Leddy needs more coaching and development which is why I would be hesitant to bring in another rookie unless they showed poise in their end and consistency which Dylan Olsen has so far but I think to bring in another rookie is asking too much for such an important position.

In my next segment I will look at the Goalie position and where the Hawks stand and the direction they are headed in.  I’ll look at their prospects and the UFA’s/RFA’s that would fit here best. Til then Happy Puck Drops!

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