Chat with Scott Powers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Thursday, Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter Scott Powers stops by to chat.
Powers, who joined ESPNChicago.com in 2009, covers the Blackhawks for both ESPN Radio 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning reporter who has been reporting on sports of all levels, from preps to pros throughout the Midwest since 1997.
Send your questions now and join Powers Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT/2:30 p.m. ET!
Scott Powers (2:31 PM)
Hello, hope everyone is having a good Thursday. I'll be here for awhile today and hope to get to all your questions. Here we go...
Any Hossa updates?
Scott Powers (2:32 PM)
Hossa will be back in the lineup tonight.
Any updates on the extent of Bickell's knee injury? Are we looking at a week off or 6-8 weeks like Carcillo's knee injury last year?
Scott Powers (2:34 PM)
Michael, Quenneville said at least a couple weeks on Bickell. It doesn't appear as severe as Carcillo's, which ended his season.
Greg (MO./ARK. BORDER)
What's the deal with Morin any idea. Not that he has been as good as Piri but I think he plays @ the level of Smith. So why is he riding the bench & back
Scott Powers (2:37 PM)
Greg, prospects have to prove to Quenneville they're reliable defensively to stay on the ice. Morin hasn't proven that to him yet. He could also help himself if he got his offensive going a little bit more. He didn't produce much during his first stint. He should get another extended look here with Bickell going out.
Scott what is going on with Sheldon Brookbank at wing...this is a bad decision by Q as it prevents us from rolling 4 lines and when the Hawks roll 4 lines we win. When is this mistake going to change???
Scott Powers (2:38 PM)
Brad, Brookbank was in the lineup at first because Quenneville was unhappy with Morin, and lately it was out of necessity with roster numbers. With Hossa returning to the lineup, Morin being called up again and Hanzus coming back soon from injury, I don't expect you'll see Brookbank at wing going forward.
Will the Hawks look to acquire an experienced goalie as a backup?
Scott Powers (2:41 PM)
Marcel, I think it depends on whether Raanta can do the job. If he's capable, the Blackhawks will stick with him. He has NHL-caliber ability, but hadn't found the consistency at the AHL level in the first few months.
Who would be next forward in the Rockford pipeline, if someone else needed to be called up?
Scott Powers (2:43 PM)
Phil, Alex Broadhurst and Mark McNeil have played well. Broadhurt was called up for a few hours last week and was sent back down when Versteeg was traded for. He's second on the IceHogs in points. Defensively, I think Adam Clendening will get a chance at some point.
Hi Scott, now for my weekly Tuevo question, just kidding. Do you think Bickel become more important in the playoffs as the game is less wide open and more about grinding out goals? I think that he isn't suited to play on the top 2 lines in the regular season when it is up and down. Curious what your thoughts are?
Scott Powers (2:45 PM)
Tim, Bickell has always played better in the playoffs. He's always attributed it to being a more physical game and fitting his style. It might be a mindset with him, too. Either way, he's got to find a way to produce more in the regular season. I thought getting Versteeg would get that line going offensively, and then Bickell suffered his injury.
Matt (North Center)
With the salary cap being so tight, could you see any players being traded away? Or is that unlikely, given the 'Hawks will compete for the championship this year?
Scott Powers (2:48 PM)
Matt, I don't seen any of the core players being moved. Bowman has a plan in place for the future, and I think it includes most of the players on the roster. He has a bulk of the team signed for the near future. They may fill in a void like the third-line winger as they did with Versteeg, but I don't foresee many other moves up ahead. Teravainen might join the team in April. If Raanta plays well, he could be Crawford's backup for a few years, too. He'll be a restricted free agent after the season.
Can the Hawks do anything to replace players who are hurt based on salary cap restrictions?
Scott Powers (2:50 PM)
Shaun, the Blackhawks can go above the cap if they place players on the long-term injured reserve. They were able to do that with Handzus, Kostka and Khabibulin being placed on the LTIR. Once they're healthy, though, the Blackhawks must adjust the roster to fit under the cap again.
Versteeg was a solid pick up. Your thoughts?
Scott Powers (2:52 PM)
Ryan, I thought so, too, especially getting the Panthers to pick up half of his cap hit. At $2.2 million, Versteeg is a solid pick up. The Blackhawks were hoping Morin, Hayes or someone could fill that third-line winger void, but none of them ran with it. Bowman saw a chance to fill that need with Versteeg.
charlie (dallas) [via mobile]
What is going to be our solution for a backup goalie?
Scott Powers (2:54 PM)
Charlie, it'll be Antti Raanta for now. I expect he'll start a game here soon.
i am a fan of the deal we got for 'steeg, but nay ideas what the grand plan is in the front office wrt toews and kane? i would say it is pretty obvious at this point they are going to have to move someone after next year. no way the cap is going up THAT much. or is it?
Scott Powers (2:57 PM)
Pamela, I have heard people say they expect the cap to go up to at least $70 million next year. Remember, Kane and Toews doesn't actually become free agents until after the 14-15 season. Even if the Blackhawks announce a new contract after this season, those figures won't go into place until the following season. At that point, I imagine they'll let some free agents go and turn to a few younger guys.
Rich London (Chicago)
Is it to early to pull off a trade for another back-up goalie?
Scott Powers (2:58 PM)
Rich, I do think it's too early to consider that. Raanta has ability. He needs to be given a chance.
Sean (Peoria, AZ)
Scott, can we expect Crawford's play last season to be the exception or the norm? Maybe it's just me, but he has not looked sharp the last few weeks. Unfortunately, i still have nightmares of the playoff series against Phoenix in '12. Will he turn it around and be a solid number 1 the rest of the way?
Scott Powers (3:02 PM)
Sean, Crawford's numbers, especially at even strength, were good until recently. Personally, I think he's tired. He hasn't had a true game off in nearly a month. He had to replace Khabibulin in his last two starts. Emery lessened that load for him last season, and the Blackhawks haven't been able to do that so far. I felt like Crawford allowed some of his softer goals of the season just recently. Let's see how he is in a few weeks. Raanta should get a few start to spell him.
Hi Scott, who do think has been the Hawks MVP through the first quarter of the season?
Scott Powers (3:05 PM)
Nate, I'd probably go with Toews. He's just solid in every area from producing points to faceoffs to contributing on PK and PP to being defensive reliable. Kane, Sharp and Keith should be considered, too.
Mike G. (VIlla Park)
When we ask about salary cap, can you specify how much we have now, how much the salary cap is this year, and then compare it to next year so that way we get a better perspective like you.
Scott Powers (3:08 PM)
Mike, the cap this season is at $64.3 million. The Blackhawks are up to it now. They're close to $63 million with the players they have already signed for next season. If the cap goes up to $70, they'll have a little room to play with. Pirri, Morin, Smith, Raanta and some others become restricted free agents next season. A good site for all this is capgeek.com.
Andrew(rockford) [via mobile]
Are we looking to shop brookbank? We have plenty of young d men in rockford capable of playing at his level. Also, do you think alex broadhurst will actually get a chance here coming up? Hes been called up twice and sent right back down
Scott Powers (3:25 PM)
Sorry, just lost my internet connection and couldn't get back on for a bit.
Scott Powers (3:26 PM)
As for the question about Brookbank, I don't see him going anywhere. The Blackhawks like having that depth at defense. Plus, I don't think there would be any takers unless some prospects were thrown in.
how has drew leblanc been playing this season with rockford, i really really liked his nose for the puck and all around game in his cameo last season, any chance we see him this season with the hawks ?
Scott Powers (3:27 PM)
Bryan, LeBlanc has been a bit inconsistent, at least offensively. He had his first points in November just yesterday. He has some potential especially as a distributing center, but I think he'll need some time in the AHL. He even said prior to the season he wasn't ready for the jump yet.
Mike G. (VIlla Park)
Thank you for the cap insight and the site as well. Here's my other questions regarding that, with the call-ups and being RFAs, what kind of numbers do you see them getting? Pirri I think would get a decent one consindering he has been pretty solid since his call up. What about Morin, Raanta, and so on? How MUCH would that impact us really in signing Kane and Toews? What about Seabs and Keith the next couple years...
Scott Powers (3:32 PM)
Mike, Bowman's priority is paying Kane and Toews, and he's planning on everything else around that. I think they'll each require somewhere in the ballpark of $8 million each. That obviously leaves a little less for everyone else. It'll be interesting to see what the Blackhawks' plan is for Pirri and Morin going forward. Teravainen will be with the team next season, and they already have Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Saad, Bickell, Versteeg, Shaw and Kruger signed for at least a few years going forward. Either way, none of that will affect whether they can sign Kane and Toews.
Frank Marchionni (Chicago Heights)
What is up with the penalty kill this year and what are they doing to get it fixed?????
Scott Powers (3:35 PM)
Frank, Quenneville has been experimenting with different players. I thought Saad and Kruger were providing some stability there, but that's fluctuated. Hossa being out the past three games hasn't helped either. He and Toews are normally rock solid there. It's certainly a work in progress, and something the Blackhawks know they have to get better at. I think they appreciate what Frolik did a lot more now.
Scott Powers (3:35 PM)
Thanks for all the questions today. Sorry about the technical difficulties. As always, feel free to email me at email@example.com. We should be on for next Thursday again. Have a good week.