The off season for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks has been anything but an exciting one losing key members of this championship team. Chicago fans need to remember that the Hawks are Stanley Cup champions and every hardcore Chicago fan knew the dismantling of this team was going to occur this summer like it or not. Was it worth losing these players for a Stanley Cup? Damn rights it was. Hockey is a business and although many of us fall in love with certain players and what they have done there is a time to let go of some players and move on and strive towards the next season. Heck, it could have been worse as the Hawks could not have won the cup and either way Chicago was losing players regardless this off-season.
OK, I am not cold hearted but I tell it how it is and I see how many fans perspectives on how hard it is to see our beloved players leave.
Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien were acquired by Atlanta.
Kris Versteeg was acquired by Toronto
Colin Fraser was acquired by Edmonton
Adam Burish signed a 2 year deal with Dallas
And what did the Hawks receive? Pretty much prospects and picks but a couple of the Hawks acquisitions may be able to help Chicago as early as next season in the likes of Marty Reasoner (yikes) , Viktor Stalberg, and the monstrosity in John Scott will add some big time toughness.
So if that was not hard enough to handle for the Blackhawks and their fans but they recently had to deal with an offer sheet submitted by ex-hawk Doug Wilson of the freshly sweeped San Jose Sharks. “Dougie doo” offered Niklas Hjalmarsson a 4 year deal forcing Stan Bowman to make a decision on matching that offer or letting the highly touted d-man walk and therefore would receive the Sharks 1st and 3rd round draft picks next off-season. Bowman matched and I think it was a smart decision on his part, keeping this kid keeps Chicago’s defensive corp in tact and can fill the 3rd pairing accordingly with a guy like Scott and/or Hendry or perhaps even a rookie that played down in Rockford last year.
Signing “Hammer” was costly for Chicago as it now puts the Hawks in a bind for signing another key RFA in Antti Niemi, if he is not offered a contract by another team which would force Chicago to either match it or let him walk then it will depend on the Arbitration hearing that occurs in 17 days from today I believe.
Assuming the Hawks do not trade any more players the team tentatively looks like this:
Toews Kane Brouwer
Bolland Hossa Kopecky
Sharp Bickell Stalberg
Reasoner Beach Dowell
Niemi/Crawford (assuming Huet is waived/traded)
This is assuming Hendry is re-signed and Dowell , Stalberg and Beach crack the lineup. Shawn Lalonde may even have an outside edge of making the squad but I would assume Lalonde needs some more seasoning in the AHL still. This is a long off-season and anything can happen, Chicago may sign some cheaper free agents to fill the voids left by the departed players if they feel the youngsters are not ready yet. I have a feeling these young guys will come to camp ripped and ready, the rookies all now realize they have a legitimate shot at making the big club and will come out guns a blazin’.
I have mentioned many times in previous blogs and message boards that Chicago’s core players will keep them in the playoffs for years to come. This IS a playoff team next year and I guarantee you that as still this is one of the deepest core teams in the NHL plus if Bowman fills the voids correctly these Blackhawks may surprise a few people next year.
I keep hearing fans of opposing teams say “Hawks won’t be as good as they were this year”. I thank them for pointing out the obvious and kindly respond in saying “No $hit Sherlock, but we will be damn competitive next season so get ready for a ride!”
Blackhawk hockey is back in Chicago and it’s not going anywhere for years to come. Another Tkon guarantee
Las Vegas odds are out. Chicago and Washington are the favourites to win the cup next year at 6-1. Take that as you will.
Thanks as always for reading,
About the Author
Written by Trent Kondo
An all around sports fan and has been a Chicago BlackHawks supporter longer then he can remember. Currently writes for Prosportsblogging.com on the Blackhawks and NHLHotstove.com on the Edmonton Oilers. (If you would like to email feel free to contact Trent at TKONHOCKEY@gmail.com )