Jesse Rogers grades the Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks 2010-11 Report Card
No. 2 Duncan Keith, D
The year after winning the Norris Trophy wasn’t a good one for Keith. Not by his standards. His minus-1 rating tells his story. He was plus-21 the year before. Turnovers and poor coverage were part of the problem. So was getting his shot blocked.
Outlook for ’11-’12: A full summer of rest should do Keith more good than any player on the team. That and a hunger to return as an elite defenseman. Keith should be much better in 2011-2012.
No. 4 Niklas Hjalmarsson, D
After signing a new multi-million dollar deal Hjalmarsson got off to a slow start. Eventually he abandoned any hopes of helping out on offense to concentrate on shot blocking and defending. His game improved subsequently finishing with a plus-13 rating after being at minus-9 in November.
Outlook for ’11-’12: The jury is still out if he can provide much in the way of offense. He had just 10 points in 80 eighty games but the Hawks would probably be happy if his plus/minus stayed in the positive double digits. He’s paid to defend and he’s pretty good at it.
No. 6 Jordan Hendry, D
He suffered a season-ending knee injury just as his playing time was increasing. He wasn’t a favorite of Joel Quenneville early in the season but worked his way into the lineup before going down.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Hendry is a free agent but could be brought back when fully recovered from surgery. He is decent insurance as a seventh or eighth defenseman.
No. 7 Brent Seabrook, D
Like his buddy Keith, Seabrook got off to a slow star but got better as the year went along. Though his plus/minus was just one point better than Keith, Seabrook’s offense was more reliable. He set career highs in goals and points and led all Hawks’ defensemen in scoring. Not an easy task with Keith and Brian Campbell on the same blue line.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Seabrook said he wanted to contribute on offense this year and he did. There is no reason to believe he can’t do more next season getting a full year on the top power play unit. Like Keith his defense should be better with a summer of rest.
No. 8 Nick Leddy, D
Leddy was a bright spot at a time when the Hawks needed some help and depth on defense. He probably made it to the NHL a year ahead of schedule and for the most part he showed he belonged.
Outlook for ’11-’12: The partial year plus the playoff series should do wonders for Leddy next season. Expect him to take that next step as a defenseman though his game is far from refined at the tender age 20.
No. 10 Patrick Sharp, C
One of the more consistent Hawks he shined while other stars were still experiencing a “Cup Hangover.” He was deadly on the left point on the power play and once again held his own as a centerman when called upon. His minus-1 rating is a bit misleading in his case.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Nothing like having a goal scorer enter a contract year, Sharp should have a chance at repeating his team- high 34 goals. If he stays on the point on the power play 40 tallies seems in reach.
No. 14 Chris Campoli, D
People might have to forget his Game 7 playoff gaffe to remember Campoli was a solid trade deadline pick-up. He stepped up his game when injuries took out Seabrook helping the Hawks win Games 4-6 against Vancouver. He had the occasional misplay but was reliable at both ends of the ice.
Outlook for ’11-’12: There is a very good chance the Hawks will re-sign the restricted free-agent and bring him back to do exactly what he did when acquired: provide a solid contribution as a fifth or sixth defenseman while moving up when called upon due to injuries.
No. 15 Fernando Pisani, RW
Pisani might be a reliable player for $500,000, but he added very little pop to any line he played on. As a penalty killer he was part of a group ranked near the bottom of the league. He started the season on the second line but quickly dropped.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Unless the Hawks just want a body for depth don’t expect the unrestricted free-agent back in a Hawks uniform.
No. 16 Marcus Kruger, C
The Hawks were hoping his high hockey IQ might allow him a quick adjustment to the NHL game when they brought him over from Sweden late in the season. He showed flashes but ultimately needs more time, like a full training camp.
Outlook for ’11-’12: There is no reason to believe the talk surrounding the young center isn’t true. He needs to put on 10 pounds and have the puck more but with time on the ice his hockey skills and smarts should emerge.
No. 17 Ryan Johnson, C
How can a guy that’s brought in on a tryout and finish as the quasi-third line center not earn an “A”? His faceoff prowess alone is cause for high marks. He played about as well as expected considering he was signed mid-season.
Outlook for ’11-’12: If the Hawks are serious about improving their depth at center there is no reason Johnson shouldn’t be re-signed. Even as an extra body he provides bottom six stability on a team that could use a faceoff specialist.
No. 19 Jonathan Toews, C
Oh, there were a couple moments here and there at the start of the season where Toews didn’t dominate, but he more than made up for them with a great second half earning a career high in points and notice on the defensive end with a Selke nomination.
Outlook for ’11-’12: There is no reason not to believe Toews takes another step. He did so this past year with a 76-point season. 80 or more isn’t out of the realm of possibility. As a leader there is none better. He’s already there among the best in the game.
No. 22 Troy Brouwer, RW
Probably the quietest 17 goals on the team. He had his moments but they were few and far between. He gets some points for his physical play, ranking fifth in the NHL in that department but even that was achieved rather quietly.
Outlook for ’11-’12: As a restricted free agent and a big body, he probably has a place on next year’s team -- if the price is right. He can play on any of the four lines which gives him value, but is he ultimately a top 6 or bottom 6 forward? That question remains unanswered, though it's leaning to the latter.
No. 25 Viktor Stalberg, LW
A tough one to grade, he bounced around from the top line to the bottom. He showed brilliant flashes of speed but the complete game isn’t there yet. He learned how to play as a fourth-liner as the season went along and provided a speedier, grittier spark on occasion. Acquired for Kris Versteeg, he earns a "C" compared to the player who left but he wasn’t far from a "B."
Outlook for ’11-’12: There seems to be a player in there somewhere; he simply might need more seasoning. Ultimately he’s still a top 6 forward but there is nothing wrong with learning the game from the bottom up. The Hawks should probably give him another chance by re-signing the restricted free agent.
No. 28 Jake Dowell, C
He started out with promise showing a touch around the net but his six goals were long forgotten by the time the second half rolled around. Even though he was willing to drop the gloves, his five-on-five play didn’t have the edge the Hawks needed. He was a healthy scratch by the time the playoffs came around.
Outlook for ’11-’12: A restricted free agent, he might not be tendered a contract, making him unrestricted. The Hawks did the same with Hendry a year ago but ultimately brought him back. It’s possible they do the same with Dowell as an extra body at center but they could just as easily let him walk.
No. 29 Bryan Bickell, LW
Everyone wanted him to play more physical but after flashing a deceptive shot and some touch around the net, can you blame him for thinking about scoring? His 17 goals were not achieved "quietly" like Brouwer, and he was part of a dynamic third line as the Hawks roared back in their playoff series against the Canucks.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Another step in his game would be using his size and skill. If he does, he could be a two way player who scores 20 or more goals per season. Opposing goalies might give his shot more respect after seeing it for a full season so learning some new tricks will be part of the process.
No. 32 John Scott, D
In terms of doing what the Hawks asked of him, he did almost everything. He did it slowly, but he didn’t embarrass himself using positional smarts to get by. He fell to the ice early in the season on defense and fans never forgot it. But as a fourth-line enforcer, he was as good as they come. There wasn’t much in terms of hands or touch—unless the gloves came off.
Outlook for ’11-’12: He’s signed for one more year and though the Hawks want a little more out of him, even if he repeats this season’s performance as a fighter, he’ll have a good year. Working on his game around the net might get him more playing time but for now, he’s that swing man every team needs.
No. 36 Dave Bolland, C
Based on three of his four games in the playoffs he might deserve an A+ but he was slow to get it going in the regular season. It didn’t help that a concussion sidelined him just as his offense was picking up.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Bolland proved he’s as valuable as they come in the spring when matchups rule. Whatever he provides before that might just be gravy. The question is, can he be a second line two way center or is he best suited for a third line checking role and getting his offense off of there? He’s smart enough for either but hasn’t had that big year yet. Maybe 2011-2012 will be it.
No. 51 Brian Campbell, D
Absolutely the toughest player to grade. His contract screams elite level defenseman but his play says "very solid." There is a difference between the two. Yes, his plus-28 is impressive, but misleading, as he was almost never on the ice against the other team’s best players. His five goals and 28 points were nothing special for one of the smoothest skaters in the game. Still, he helps in the transition from defense to offense, which doesn’t always show up in the boxscore.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Ironically, he’s found a comfort level in the defensive side of the game under Joel Quenneville though he’s slowed down on offense. A long, slow wind-up to his shot doesn’t help his scoring but he can and should be at least a 30 assist man like Keith and Seabrook.
No. 57 Ben Smith, RW
Remember, this is based on expectations and performance. Quenneville thought enough of him to put Smith on the second line, play him at the end of games, and give him serious minutes in overtime of Games 6 and 7 of the playoffs. He won Game 6 with a beauty of a rebound goal. His play was mature beyond his years.
Outlook for ’11-’12: At this moment Smith’s game qualifies for "sky’s the limit." He’s willing to go to the tough areas to score, has a touch around the net, and enough speed to keep up with Toews and Kane. He’s also stronger than he seems as evidenced by victorious puck battles in the corners. He’s a keeper.
No. 67 Michael Frolik, C
His grade improved from a C to a B based on his playoff performance. Frolik figured out playing the defensive part of the game can lead to offense. His back-checking and coverage was top notch in the postseason even if his scoring touch was not during the regular.
Outlook for ’11-’12: He’s Hawks property so there is no reason not to re-sign him as a restricted free agent provided the numbers work. It’s worth it to see if Frolik turned a corner in the playoffs and is ready for a complete season on both ends of the ice as he showed in the seven game postseason.
No. 81 Marian Hossa, RW
Those first two weeks of the season when Hossa dominated seem like years ago, and he had some other moments. But for whatever reason there weren’t enough of them. Most of that can be attributed to injuries, but at some point that cant be used as an excuse. There’s little doubt fatigue played some role in his season as well.
Outlook for ’11-’12: After Keith, a full summer to rest and recover should do Hossa as much good as anyone. He still has explosion in his game, but it’s waned with all the wear and tear. Still, there is reason to hope Hossa has some time in his prime before he becomes a third-line player in the way Mike Modano has, but that should still be a long ways off.
No. 82 Tomas Kopecky, C
Another tough one to grade, he had career highs in goals and points. But he was minus-13 and a lot of his offensive damage came very early in the season. He provides some grit but might not be a classic fourth-line player though he’s not a top six either. So what is he? Sometimes, it’s hard to know, other times he’s in the middle of all the action.
Outlook for ’11-’12: As one of the few unrestricted free-agents on the team there is a good chance Kopecky wont be brought back. Then again, the Hawks might just bring him back at a cut rate asking him to play on the fourth line full-time. They didn’t have the depth for that at the beginning of 2010-2011 but they will next year. And Hossa likes having him around.
No. 88 Patrick Kane, RW
It’s an easy grade to hand out. Kane was good but not great. And as he said, it’s nice not to be satisfied as a point per game guy. Everyone knows he can be better. Forget about a 100-point season. Kane should try for 90 and go from there. He was still dynamic with the puck, when he chose to go get it.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Some may question Kane’s dedication so a full summer to get ready will answer that question. He committed himself the year before the Hawks won the Cup so there is no reason to think he wont again. He loves to play, loves the spotlight, and loves producing. He will again.
No. 30 Marty Turco, G
He’s the student everyone likes but still gets a bad grade based on the expectation he was going to help the Hawks return to the promised land. We know they had many more problems than Turco, but close games were lost early in the season when pucks squeezed by the undersized Turco either in close, or from the point.
Outlook for ’11-’12: Turco is another unrestricted free agent and is the surest bet not to return.
No. 50 Corey Crawford, G
Robbed as a Rookie of the Year finalist, Crawford was everything the Hawks could have hoped for and more. He was as technically sound a goaltender in the NHL and it’s hard to know if his abilities were better than his demeanor or vice versa. He showed the hockey world what he was about with a magnificent Game 7 performance in the playoffs.
Outlook for ’11-’12: This is a no-brainer for the Hawks. Crawford is a restricted free-agent who should sign a multi-year deal to stay with the team sooner rather than later. He’ll need to “loosen” his game some to take the next step but Crawford showed all the signs—including endurance—to be a No.1 goaltender.
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