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)
Hi all, hope everyone is having a good Thursday. I should be here for about an hour or so. Look forward to answering your questions. Let's get started.
Hi Scott, Do you think we will see more of Raanta down the stretch before the playoffs start?
Scott Powers (2:32 PM)
TJ, I do think Raanta will play more in the coming weeks. The schedule becomes a bit more condensed, and Quenneville will look to get Crawford nights off on back-to-backs and weeks with four games. I would thinking having Crawford rested for the playoffs would be a priority, too.
Will Morin get a shot with Hossa on the shelf these next 2-3 weeks? How else will we get an offensive spark (besides reshuffling lines)?
Scott Powers (2:34 PM)
Pearce, they can't fit Morin under the cap now, so they'd either have to send someone like Rundblad down or put someone on injured reserve. I don't think Morin gets another chance until something like that happens.
Henry (Deland fl)
Is Khabibulin ever going to come back?
Scott Powers (2:35 PM)
Henry, I would bet against it. Bowman said yesterday Khabibulin could still come back, but he was still rehabbing and wasn't close. I think he has to say those things because they can't come out and say Khabibulin is done because he's still technically on the long-term IR and is allowing them to use cap money elsewhere.
Seemed like some of the Olympians were playing like they didn't have line mates on Tuesday and tried to force the game too much. Does playing in the Olympics, where individual talent drives success, mess with a player's approach coming back to more of a "team" game?
Scott Powers (2:38 PM)
Curt, I don't know if the individual game messes with them, but I think there has been some readjusting for those players. Hjalmarsson said today he was just getting back to feeling normal. I also think it's natural to have some letdown after gearing up for the Olympics, playing in them and then having to play again when you return. You would think they would start to get into some normal routines again in the next week.
In comparing the Pirri trade to other deadline deals, do you think we did not get enough in return? Seems to me we could have gotten a higher pick, or possibly an intriguing rental player for the homestretch.
Scott Powers (2:41 PM)
Ben, I do think they got some value for Pirri with the picks. Ultimately, you're talking about a guy who hasn't played a lot of NHL games and has shown just potential. He certainly has offensive skill, but there's no guarantee he's going to be a player in the league. As for getting a rental, they just didn't have much cap space to work with. They would have had to trade someone on the roster to free space, and Bowman wasn't willing to do that.
jim, burbank [via mobile]
Scott, Can you see hossa retiring in next couple yrs? Especially with injuries creeping into his game more of late
Scott Powers (2:42 PM)
Jim, I don't know when it'll be, but I'd be surprised if he plays through his entire contract. When healthy, he's still proven to be one of the league's top two-way players. The injuries have been piling up, and back injuries normally don't disappear forever. I would think he has at least a few more years left in him.
what is quenneville's plan for the final 19 games of the regular seasons, heading into the playoff race??
Scott Powers (2:44 PM)
Ryan, I wouldn't say there's a different plan now. I do think Quenneville understands it's going to be tough to catch St. Louis at this point. They're probably more worried about holding off Colorado. The loss the other day certainly didn't help with that. I think if they secure a playoff seed down the stretch that he'll give some of the regulars less ice time and rest them.
Scott, what do you attribute the Hawks seemingly chronic mid-late season malaise to? Their losing valuable ground, so I don't think it's just about not being motivated to prove their the best anymore.
Scott Powers (2:47 PM)
Paul, yeah, it's hard to put a finger on exactly what it is. Bowman thought yesterday that it might have to do with the concentration being elsewhere before the Olympics, and I could see how it'd be tough to get back into it afterward. Either way, I think they're realizing there isn't much time left. They need to snap out of the funk soon or could find themselves as low as the third seed in the Central. The big thing is getting the offense going again. Quenneville is obviously trying to do that with some different lines tonight.
Do you think Teravainen will come over this year? Will that fill the second line center void?
Scott Powers (2:49 PM)
Austin, I do think Teravainen comes over, but I don't know how much he'll play or what his role will be. It may depend on what the Blackhawks look like in April. If Handzus or Regin is fine at second-line center and the team is rolling, there's no need to disrupt that by playing Teravainen. If the production still isn't there, I think the kid gets a shot for a bit. His playoffs start in a few weeks, so we should have a better idea soon.
with the cap going up will Hawks be able to afford some new players or rentals next year at this time? I know they need to sign Towes and Kane but that won't kick in til 2015, right??
Scott Powers (2:52 PM)
Sean, I saw somewhere the other day where the cap could be around $68 million next season. I don't foresee many changes going forward. You have a lot of players signed for the upcoming seasons. The only unrestricted free agents you lose are Brookbank, Handzus and Regin. Smith is a restricted free agent. You add Teravainen for next season. Aside from Kane and Toews, Bowman has to also start thinking about Saad who will be a restricted free agent after next season.
Joachim (Berlin, Germany)
Hi Scott. After the loss to the Avs, Q called out the goaltending as not being great. Without getting into the useless debate about how good Crawford is - because he is good, obviously - can you tell us what Q and Bowman believe about whether STL's acquisition of Ryan Miller means for Chicago? Do they think it makes things harder a little, or a lot? Or not at all?
Scott Powers (2:55 PM)
Joachim, I got the impression Quenneville was calling out the defense more than Crawford against the Avalanche. He was upset with the third line on the first goal, Keith on the second one and the PK on the third line. Either way, I still think Crawford is good enough for the Blackhawks to win another Cup. He was pretty average early in the season, but he's been a lot more consistent since coming back from his injury in January. Certainly Miller makes the Blues better. They were a Cup contender before that. I don't think there's a huge difference between the teams, though.
When do you think we will see David Rundblad in the lineup? Really curious to see how he fits with giving up a 2nd round pick for him and the other D-man.
Scott Powers (2:57 PM)
Chris, it looks like he'll play against Buffalo on Sunday. Yeah, I'm curious to see him, too. He's always been a player deemed to possess a lot of upside, but hasn't produced yet wherever he's been. Bowman does think highly of him.
What were the Canucks asking for Kessler? Would the Hawks been able to acquire him with younger guys like Morin or would they have had to give up some one on the active roster?
Scott Powers (2:59 PM)
Matt, I don't know what the asking price was, but the Blackhawks would have had to give up someone on the active roster. They had little cap room to work with. Bowman's long-term plan is keeping the core together, so I don't think he ever considered acquiring any of the bigger names.
Dave (Boston) [via mobile]
I think we have a glut of 3rd line centers right now and no true second. I'd like to see PM Bouchard get a chance given that he has a bit more skill than a Regin or Handzus. With the cap, do we wait until playoffs to see him?
Scott Powers (3:00 PM)
Dave, yeah, unless they send down Rundblad or someone is placed on IR, I don't see Morin or Bouchard getting a shot in the near future. I do think both will be added to the roster late in the season and provide some more depth.
It seems to me (and I think most of the real fan base) that the Hawks seemed to just stay the same while everyone else in the division got better before the trade deadline. It's not that I think the Hawks should have made a huge trade, but that they should have maybe called up Morin instead of putting Runsblad on the roster. Is there a reason as to why Morin is still in Rockford producing like he is and the Hawks still carrying 8 D? Does this is also imply that Teuvo will be on the first plane to Chicago once his season is over in Finland?
Scott Powers (3:03 PM)
Dustin, it sounds like Bowman had his eye on Rundblad for some time and jumped at the chance to get him now. It's obviously not exactly what they needed now. Morin's in a tough spot because he really should up with the Blackhawks, especially with Hossa's injury. As for Teravainen, I do think he's coming, but I wouldn't bank on him given a quality look down the stretch.
Hi Scott!With all the " what if's" surrounding yesterdays trade deadline, Stan stood by his word. However, by his inaction, I think a few teams got better, specifically the Blues. I also would like your take on shipping off Pirri without a longer look in the bigs. Thank you!
Scott Powers (3:06 PM)
Rich, Pirri is an NHL player. I believe that. The Blackhawks just may not have been the right fit, and that has to do with Quenneville more than anyone. As a second-line center, Pirri was good for the Blackhawks. But when asked to play third line, he didn't meet Quenneville's expectations. I do think Teravainen would have jumped Pirri next season also, so I'm not sure where that would have left Pirri. I guess I understand why Bowman got some picks back when he could for him.
Scott, I'm not sure what's more troubling: the Blues trade or the fact that we extended Bollig for 3 years. Those monsters on Stl can now just deliver even more punishment and not have to worry about getting back with Miller in net; not to mention adding yet another physical presence with Ott. Why is Bollig extended? Even though his play has gotten better (not saying much), why would he say that he has no interest in enforcing, even if that's the case? To me that sounds like an open invitation to the league to take a run at Toews and Kane.Thanks as always!
Scott Powers (3:09 PM)
Kevin, I do think your opinion of Bollig is shared by a lot of people. The extension left a lot of people scratching their heads, but the fact is Quenneville and Bowman obviously like having that enforcer in the lineup. Quenneville is an old-school coach in that way. I think Bollig being a bit more defensively reliable and producing offensively occasionally this season only deepened Quenneville's appreciation for him. I'm not saying they're right, but they obviously find value in Bollig and you're not going to change their minds.
Jeff R (Dallas)
Good Afternoon Scott,CapGeek tweeted out today that the cap may go up substantially less than originally expected due to the decreasing value of the Canadian dollar. Their people even mentioned it could be as low as $68 million next year rather than the anticipated $70+. I crunched some numbers, and it looks like the Hawks would be in trouble if that were the case. (I'm sure other teams would be as well). Based on my calculations, this would only give us about 2 mil to fill 6 roster spots. What kind of moves would you expect the team to make in order to be cap complaint in such a scenario?
Scott Powers (3:11 PM)
Jeff, I wouldn't be surprised if they move a defenseman after the season, especially after acquiring Rundblad now. Maybe move Oduya? That would free up some money. I also see one of those roster spots going to Teravainen. Morin could get another shot as well. Ben Smith could be resigned as a RFA.
DJ G. (Elgin)
Does Raanta need to clear waivers in order to be sent back down? If they aren't going to use him that often would it be better to have someone like Labarbera up who has been a backup in the NHL. Let Raanta play more often for Rockford.
Scott Powers (3:13 PM)
DJ, I think the ship sailed on getting Raanta more consistent time this season. They trust him more than LaBarbera, and Raanta will start a few more games down the stretch. They'd rather have Raanta as the emergency backup instead of LaBarbera if something happened to Crawford in the playoffs.
Scott Powers (3:15 PM)
Henry, Leddy has one more year after this season. I guess it'll depend on where the cap is and what he's asking for. He's making $2.7 right now. I think he's been solid this season.
Tim (Falls Church)
It seems that Handzus has been misused since his acquisition and re-signing. Why does he play so many quality minutes in the top six on this roster?
Scott Powers (3:17 PM)
Tim, I think Quenneville keeps hoping Handzus will resemble the player he was in the playoffs last season. Kruger would be a better look there, but Quenneville sees that fourth-line role to be more important. Regin hasn't show much there yet either. I also think Quenneville believes Kane and that line can still produce with whomever is centering it.
Jonathan V. (Savannah)
As a fan, I have to say that I am really disappointed with what came back in the trade for Brandon Pirri. Ilya Bryzgalov, Viktor Fasth, Ales Hemsky and Marcel Goc all traded for a fifth and a third round pick, all over 30, all on expiring contracts, all streaky performers and all likely to go to a different team at seasons end than the team that traded for them. Brandon Pirri is a top 50 prospect who has done nothing but produce and win accolades at lower levels. I can empathize with the frustration that his defensive game needs work, but that doesn't knock his value down to the run-of-the-mill rental does it? This looks like an "old pal" discount for Dale Tallon to me.
Scott Powers (3:22 PM)
Jonathan, there might be some of that. I couldn't say. I would imagine Bowman took some different phone calls for him, too. I think others around the league have doubts about him, especially his foot speed and defensive game. I get your disappointment, though.
Mike (Washington, DC)
For a team that has been underperforming for a couple of months now, is there any valid reason why Stan Bowman was M.I.A. on trade deadline day? It seems that with a huge gaping hole at the #2 center position (Handzus shouldn't even be playing and Regin was scratched for the Stadium Series), he should at least have made a few calls...
Scott Powers (3:25 PM)
Mike, I would imagine he at least made some phone calls, but he stuck to his plan and said he didn't want to trade any of their roster players. We'll find out in the coming months whether they're right, but they believe they can win the Cup with what they have. If they don't win again, I think he'll have some harder questions to answer then about second-line center, etc.
Is any team in the west capable of beating the Hawks over a 7 game series?
Scott Powers (3:28 PM)
Andy, I would say yes. St. Louis and Colorado have proven they can consistently compete with the Blackhawks. Anaheim is going to finish atop the West and is better than a year ago. I think the Blackhawks are a Stanley Cup contender again, but I think there are a few others that be included in that category as week.
Scott Powers (3:28 PM)
As always, thanks for everyone's questions. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have anything else. Have a good weekend. Take care