Chicago, IL — Today should be interesting for several reasons. Today is the day that the NHLPA votes on what the final cap number will be by deciding what the escrow escalator amount will be employed.
This is huge for cap strapped teams like the Hawks. While a 2-4 million difference doesn’t sound like much it could be the difference of keeping a player or not.
Also today is the last day trades can be conducted as of 3pm CT due to the expansion. So after 3pm only trades with the Las Vegas Golden Knights can occur til the trade lift which is June 22nd.
Here is link to NHL site for key expansion draft dates – https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-expansion-draft-critical-dates/c-289723278
Tomorrow all the teams eligible players for the expansion draft will be released and I for one can not wait. I will probably construct my own mock Vegas Golden Knights team by playing suedo NHL GM so look for that tomorrow.
Now onto our beloved Chicago Blackhawks, as they are in off season training as an organization of their own. They have recently made some moves both on the player side with many more still to come I’m sure and on the coaching side.
First the player side. The Hawks resigned Michal Kempny D on for another year, I for one was very glad to see.
Personally I don’t think he was used enough last year and his cap hit is perfect for the Hawks with his upside it is a huge win for the organization in my humble opinion.
Having watched this years IIHF World Championships because the Blackhawks were out I really spent a lot of time on the teams that had Hawks players like Russia, Sweden, USA and Czech Republic.
I loved Team Czech Republic’s D core which had both Kempny and the newly signed Jan Rutta. Rutta is 26 yrs old and signed for a cap friendly amount. Between him and Kempny they bring youth and good puck moving skills.
Rutta is tall at 6′ 3″ so he has a great reach with the stick also the scouting on him is he is solid two way and brings a big offensive up side with decent shot and great on ice vision.
These are the types of players the Hawks needed on the Blueline some infusion of youth and physicality along with mobility and offensive upside.
Personally I think Kempny and Rutta should try to shoot more when they can jump in the play especially Kempny he actually has a really good shot.
I also loved Radim Simek from the Czech team but I’m happy they got Rutta who was also being pursued by the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
So thank the Lord he didn’t go to those western young up coming teams. Now both him and Kempny have work to do to in the NHL which brings us to the coaching pickups by the Blackhawks.
Ulf Samuelsson was signed to replace Mike Kitchen and while I have nothing against Mike Kitchen I do think it was time for a change in defensive philosophy since the league is changing.
As a fan I am anxious to see how the defense changes with D zone structure and penalty kill.
Samuelsson comes to the Blackhawks with NHL experience as a defenseman and spending coaching time in Sweden and the AHL.
Now I never saw him play as a defenseman but I’ve heard he was mean and tough which is exactly what the Blackhawks D core could use more of.
Here is a link which describes Samuelsson as a master of mayhem which sounds like exactly what the Hawks need some snarl and bite. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article110913602.html
They have the puck moving mobility but need a bit more speed and a lot more of mean. The Hawks D core of Keith, Seabrook and Hjalmarsson have a lot of miles on them so bringing in some youth here and fresh legs will only help them.
Now with bringing in youth or non NHLers like Rutta you need guidance, coaching and development and this is where the second coaching hire of Don Granato comes in.
So yes the Hawks will have basically three defensive minded coaches in Quenneville, Samuelsson and Granato but I think this is great for such an important position.
Granato has coaching experience in the AHL, University of Wisconsin , USNTD program and the 2015 USA junior team so he has plenty of knowledge and experience with working with young players which is exactly what the Hawks need.
Here is a link with more on Granato’s coaching background – http://host.madison.com/wsj/sports/college/hockey/badgers-men-s-hockey-associate-head-coach-don-granato-set/article_2b43a735-9510-5fbe-9514-837b0a99ec99.html
I wouldn’t mind if they got another Offensive asst coach to work with Kevin Dineen with helping all the young forwards develop and adjust to the NHL defenses but I’ll discuss that in another blog.
So I’m glad to see the Chicago Blackhawks are getting into shape organizationally this off season. They are bench pressing to build their core which is the defense.
I can’t wait to see what other changes/adjustments they do in this offseason but so far I like what they did and are doing.
It will be very interesting to see what this team finally shakes out to look like in October. I can’t wait for both the expansion draft and the NHL entry level draft to see what the Hawks do but in the meantime:
Welcome to Chicago gentleman and Let’s GO HAWKS!