With the subtractions of Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery, Jamal Mayers and Michael Frolik due to trade or free agency the 2013-2014 Chicago Blackhawks lines may look something like the following.

 

Bickell/Toews/Kane

Sharp/Handzus/Hossa

Saad/Shaw/Pirri

Carcillo/Kruger/Bollig

Outside looking in: Smith, Hayes, Morin, Leblanc and Beach

As we know, Quenneville’s lines are never set in stone but this is an early forecast of what they may look like to start the 2013 NHL season. Marcus Kruger (RFA) is yet to be signed but very early in the off-season Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said he will be signing Kruger to a new contract. However, we have all seen this before where Bowman has stated similar (Niemi) and the Hawks ended up losing him.

Could a team offer sheet Kruger? Possibly, the minimum that would need to be offered to Kruger would be a 105% raise of last year’s salary which I believe was 900k. That would put him close to the 2 million mark and not unreasonable for a player like Kruger. There would be no compensation for losing Kruger from the team using an offer sheet on him if that was the case.

I believe Kruger is looking for 2.2-2.5 million per season and if he does end up receiving that the Blackhawks will be completely out of cap space although they can go over the salary cap (up to 10%) until the start of the season.

Bowman could try to do something with Carcillo and Bollig who have a combines 2013-14 salary of $1,400,000 but still does not leave a ton of room, cap wise. Also, I’m not too sure what teams would have interest in either player.

As you can see in the lines I have Pirri slotted in on the 3rd line, however, with the cap situation it may be tough to add a young player in due to the cap hit. Pirri (2-way contract) has a hit of $870,000.

Kruger would need to sign a deal by December 1, 2013 or he will not be eligible to play the rest of the season.

How else could the Blackhawks make room if they want to sign Kruger?

Well, one can’t imagine any of the forwards being moved besides Carcillo or Bollig so one has to look below at the defenseman.

Keith/Seabrook

Hjalmarsson/Oduya

Leddy/Rozsival

Brookbank

Outside looking in: Olsen, Clendening and Stanton

Chicago has a solid top 6 defense group but they also have a ton of money invested in them. Bowman could free up some cap space by moving Niklas Hjalmarsson or Johnny Oduya. I personally believe it would be much easier to move Hammer due to him being an unrestricted free agent next season.

The issue with moving one of our defenseman is that the Blackhawks are not as deep on the back end as they are up front. Sheldon Brookbank would step in to fill a spot but after that is a huge question for depth.

Crawford/ Khabibulin

Outside looking in: Raanta

The goaltending situation is interesting. Corey Crawford is the clear number one goalie in Chicago after proving to many critics that he’s one of the best “tenders” in the game today. The back-up situation was figured at one point to be freshly signed Antti Raanta’s job but Stan Bowman went and spent 2 million on 40 year old ex- Blackhawk goaltender and Stanley Cup winner (with Tampa Bay) Nikolai Khabibulin.

Raanta initially signed the contract expecting to be in Chicago for the 2013-14 season and earlier Stan Bowman did an online interview saying he expects Raanta to fill that role. This was only a few days prior to the signing of Khabibulin. In a recent interview, Raanta was questioned about where he was going to be playing next season and has mentioned that he is prepared to go to the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the Rockford Icehogs.

It should be an interesting and possibly shocking off-season for Chicago with the reduced salary cap but Bowman has done an extraordinary job in the past managing players and contracts.

Thanks for reading,

 

TK0N

 

 

 

The Chicago Blackhawks are off to an incredible start to the season banging off seven wins in nine games with the only blemishes on their record being two shootout losses to Minnesota and Vancouver, respectively

With a match up coming against San Jose on Tuesday, there have been a few questions on who should start in goal against the Sharks.

Corey Crawford who boasts a 5-0-2 record with a 1.66 G.A.A and a save percentage of .934 or Ray Emery who came off the best performance from any goalie so far this year who is 2-0-0 with a 2.88 G.A.A. and a .921 save percentage. Many coaches would go with the hot hand but the issue here is, both goalies are hot to start the year which is obviously a great problem to have.

For me, there is no question on which of the two you would go with in goal. With these being the top two teams in the NHL you have to go with your best and that would be Corey Crawford. Amongst goaltenders who have played at least 7 games, Crawford ranks second in goals against, tied for third in wins and fourth in save percentage.

 

Rookie Brandon Saad has stepped in and played his position remarkably well filling in for the injured Daniel Carcillo.

The subtraction of Carcillo had me worried for the wellbeing of Toews and Hossa simply because of how opposition would feast on those two considering there is no tough guy on a line with them. We did see both players get pushed around in the first game having Saad on that line but surprisingly Toews and Hossa have been left alone in that regard.

What happens when Carcillo comes back? Well, someone has to sit in the press box or be moved to Rockford of the AHL. Stan Bowman recently said that Brandon Saad will be with the team the entire season but the bottom line is that he has to produce. He is a bit snake bitten, similar to Michael Frolik last year, but it’s not rare that this happens to a rookie. Again, he’s played extremely well and he is getting scoring chances. One thing to remember is a GM’s word is never bond, remember Bowman’s comments when it came time to sign Niemi and Hjalmarsson? Stan said they weren’t going anywhere, well, he made a promise he couldn’t keep, obviously.

Let’s hope the Blackhawks can step their game up and keep their unblemished regulation time record unscathed!

Hat tip to Zimbio.com for the use of your photos.

Thanks for reading,

TK0N

 

  Chicago Blackhawks fans are getting anxious with the NHL trade deadline only two days away and rightly so. The Blackhawks have a big game in which the entire NHL will be tuning in to watch and more so for the debut of newly acquired Jeff Carter by the Los Angeles Kings who is reunited with center Mike Richards from their days playing together with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Chicago currently sits sixth in the Western Conference with 73 points and a plus 10 goals for and goals against differential. Last season, at this time, the Blackhawks sat in 9th position in the Western Conference with 72 points and a plus 32 goal differential. What does this tell you? Well, it tells you that in comparison to last season the Blackhawks have not improved and if anything they’ve regressed, to some extent.

The Blackhawks are sitting three spots higher in the standings in comparison to last year; however, a lot has to do with eight teams not having 70 points in comparison to last season when there were only four after 62 games. There are additional teams this year that are weaker; there are teams this year that are much stronger; for example, the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators. What does this mean for Chicago? It means that they’re once again fighting for a playoff spot and if they want to get home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, well, they will have to go on quite a sick winning streak. Blackhawks nation are hoping they don’t lose their way in to the playoffs like they did last year when they were sitting and hoping that the Dallas Stars would lose their final game of the year, luckily for them, they did.

Looking at the trade front, it’s no doubt that the Blackhawks fans, media and undoubtedly some of the players are hoping that something gets done to bolster this team into a true Stanley Cup contender because at this point they are not a legit contender. General manager Stan Bowman has to be feeling the heat, unlike last season, he has the cap space, prospects, draft picks and players to make some significant moves so basically there are no excuses. Sure, there are not a ton of pieces that seem to be available but there are some noteworthy candidates that would make an immediate impact for Chicago that are available such as a Derek Roy or Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres.

The pressure on Bowman to make a move has increased immensely considering that Steve Montador is more than likely gone for the season, Niklas Hjalmarsson has concussion like symptoms, Jonathan Toews injury is being downplayed but many feel it is also concussion related, and agitator Dan Carcillo is also done for the season. Brendan Morrison is not going to do the trick especially being a healthy scratch many times since he was acquired from the Calgary Flames.

It’s no secret that the Blackhawks have had holes since the beginning of the season and little has been done to help find a solution to adjust those holes. Just recently, the Blackhawks coaching staff finally implemented a better defensive system along with a new penalty kill structure. The Blackhawks management’s lackadaisical and seemingly non urgent attitude to strengthen the team’s weaknesses are frustrating a lot of people.

It has only been two years since the dismantling of the Stanley Cup team and it’s understandable that it takes time to rebuild, however, with the Blackhawks core and many pieces to use as trade bait plus a plethora of cap space there are no excuses for Stan Bowman. It’s now or never for Mr. Bowman, he’d better improve the team or he will most certainly be on the NHL unemployment line sooner than later.

Let’s see if he does something to impress…. then perhaps we will take a look at this again.

I’m sure most don’t want to hear “we were unable to do anything by or at the trade deadline, teams were just not willing to deal”

Thanks for reading as always,

TK0N

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