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July 21, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Jesse Rogers

ESPNChicago.com
  (12:57 PM)

Jesse informs us he is running 10 minutes late. The chat will run a little later as well. Thanks.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:10 PM)

Hello all. Thanks for waiting. Was working the phones a bit. Im sure there are tons of questions still about this offseason so lets get right to it.

Jeffrey Wilson (St. Johns, Antigua)

Good to hear Sharp will be a Blackhawk in 2011. Do you think Bowman's declaration indicates he thinks Campbell can be moved?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:13 PM)

I think its a indication that they are TRYING to move campbell and maybe others...I can tell you for a FACT that they were listening to sharp offers..maybe they decided (or were told from above) it just aint working so lets just declare him off limits but he was within "limits" for a while there...still think its doubtful they can move soupy

Mitch Chicago [via mobile]

Do you think the Hawks have a shot at repeating as champs with all the moves made and do you think Niemi will be back?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:13 PM)

No on Niemi and of course they have a shot but its been lessened big time...i would say less than 50% but thats probably true for any champ for a lot of reasons

John (Chicago)

Why didn't the Hawks sign Hammer and Antti before they became free agents?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:16 PM)

Its a good question and a tough one to answer. Ive been using the phrase "it takes two to tango" because I think it applies for these 2. Maybe the players WANTED to wait to see what other teams would offer, however, the fact remains IF they had wowed the agents with offers befire July 1 maybe they sign. That never happened. There were no 10 year 30 mil offers for hammer...or niemi..it could have helped the cap hit and locked them up but there are always circumstances we dont know about...fact remains, bowman was FORCED to sign hammer at a rate he didnt set and the same will happen to niemi if they go to arb and somehoe he stays...doesnt sound like sound strategy to let others set the price so i still think they made mistakes

Frank (Bolingbrook)

Will Corey Crawford be with the Hawks next season regardless of what happens with Niemi? Could he start?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:18 PM)

Cant see a scenario where he is not. On a one way contract so dont want to pay him 800k to be in the minors, etc. and he could very well start...If you ask me right now, today, I think he is the starter...

Brian (Bloomington, Indiana)

Jesse, with all the Hawks trades, who do you currently tab as favorites in the West?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:19 PM)

I know the Kings are kind of a sexy pick even without Kovy..I like them...Det will have a say..no doubt...I dont see a big drop for San Jose. So those 3 with the hawks

Joe (Niles)

Do you think Niemi is worth 4 mill a year/

Jesse Rogers
  (1:19 PM)

I think he is worth between 3-4 for sure

George (Whiting)

Are the Hawks not taking Niemi's contributions seriously enough? Why overpay Hammer and ditch Niemi?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:21 PM)

Maybe because of thie rown doing but they had to pay hammer that rate since they were matching anotehr offer...BUT, to answer the first part, I dont think for a second they are taking his contributions seriously enough...at every turn, he had to prove himslef even more than he had previously...think about it...8-10 weeks before the Cup run there were doubts about him...that day that crawford played in anahiem in march while Huet was sick told me alot about what they felt...and the fact that they are dealing with his situation after everyone else tells me as well..not saying it is all their fault but I do get the feeling he's being dissed a bit

Bobby (Park Ridge)

Who is to blame for the salary cap crunch?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:23 PM)

Mostly Dale Tallon

ESPNChicago.com
  (1:26 PM)

Jesse is having minor technical difficulties. He'll resume in a couple of minutes.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:31 PM)

Sorry,im back

steven (chicago)

Jesse,We've been hearing about about the hawks cap issues and how they will have to lose one more important piece. All i want to know is how far under the cap are we at the moment and how many more players do we need to sign?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:34 PM)

Basically, they have 17 players signed including huet and that puts them OVER the cap a bit...get rid of huet, have like 5 mil give or take to play with for lets say 6 players to get to 22...have to leave some room for injury...even if 5 players avg out to 600k, there is about a mil or 1.5 or whatever for niemi...jsut doesnt work

James (Chicago)

Is there some type of tie or agreement with Kopecky and Hossa? I know its strange but I didnt understand why he was signed in the first place and how come he is never mentioned in a rumor? Him and Reasoner are a couple million in salary between the two.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:35 PM)

They are friends but that doesnt mean he wont be moved...yes, he and reasoner are options but who wants them? Not saying no one does but they are not lining up...one or both could be sent to save a few dollars...could happen but u only save a few hundred thousand which i guess is big on this team

Matt (Aurora)

Based on the cap issues this year (which are still not finished) isn't it safe to assume that this same problem will cost us players next year? If we don't lose Sharp this year will it be next? I bring this up because isn't Seabrook due for a new contract next year?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:37 PM)

You basic prenise is correct..with toews,kane, keith, hossa, campbell, and now hammer to an extent locked up the hawks will be facing this issue (to an extent)for a while. And yes, sharp is two yrs away from probably leaving (not sure sure)Its why you have to consider everything in thinking trade..sharp for 2 or niemi for 4 or more..Has to be part of thinking, etc. And seabrook is up after this yr

dan (bloomington)

if neimi goes what is the back up plan? Bring in someone or do they give crawford a chance?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:38 PM)

I dont see how you can bring in someone capable for the money they will have to spend UNLESS a guy like Turco REALLY wants to play for Chicago and takes 1.5 or less...so I say Crawfors who is slated for 800k

Charlie (Joliet)

Blackhawks are slowly creepin up on Niemi's arbitration date and negotiations have been awfully quiet to us fans... Are the Hawks making a strong effort to agree on a deal with Antti or are they just sitting back waiting for Zito to contact them because its sure lookin like that. Thanks for the time Jesse!

Jesse Rogers
  (1:40 PM)

Its pretty simple. Here is the conversation: Bowman: "This is what (little) we have. Will he take that?"Zito: "No."Next day same thing with maybe a slight twist OR "hang in there we are trying to move some money (campbell!) So I think they go to arb but even more likely IF they dont think they can afford him even if they WIN the case is they trade him before now and then and at least get SOMETHING for him

Tim (Chicago)

I understand Hockey in June in Chgo doesn't bode well for the Ice.But with the new mantra of the Organization as trying to Improve all facets , Are the Hawks looking into anything to improve the quality of Ice. Thanks and keep up the good work.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:41 PM)

Good question. Have not looked into that. Since they have a good chance of playing late into Spring quite often now, its something I will follow up on

Dave (Glendale Heights)

Hey Jesse...wanted to get your thoughts on the NHL rejecting Kovalchuk's new contract. When I first saw the terms I wondered if the NHL would finally put it's foot down with all of these long term contracts. In your opinion, where does Kovalchuk go from here? Do you think he can re-work things to stay in NJ?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:43 PM)

Im sure they will re-work..as soon as I heard the deal I assumed it would get a major look from the league BUT I do know that NJ GM Lou Lamoriello is about as powerful as they come in the league and so I did figure if he says its good the league would say it as well but guess not.

Fitz (My Cube)

Jesse, Don't get me wrong I love that Sharpie is staying but what did Stan accomplish by saying he isn't being traded? To me it doesn't make sense...could he be trying to get a deal from someone that blows him away?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:45 PM)

Something fishy going on there but not what you're thinking...Sharp was on espn 1000 monday morning and they asked about coming to town, doing promotional stuff and possibly being traded..I think they didnt hear anything they liked for him and someone in the front office decided to squash anything and make that statement as much for sharp as for PR...cause they WERE listening, so whatever...

Jesse Rogers
  (1:45 PM)

listening for offers that is

CT (Chicago)

Any chance they let Niemi go and make an offer to Turco? With the defensive squad the Hawks have, Turco may break the record for points by a goalie.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:46 PM)

AS answered before, maybe, but Turco has to take probably less than 2 mil

bob (tucson, az)

how many more moves do you expect the blackhawks to make in terms of trades, signing RFA and UFA?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:47 PM)

Very few..they will sign some of their own guys...hendry, bickell, etc. maybe someone off the scrap heap for 500k...and then deal with goalies but even with niemi they might stay in house with craw and toivonen

Paul (Chicago)

Hey Jesse! I am glad to hear that Sharp is staying, but worried about this probably costing us Niemi. Any chance that we only keep 20 or 21 on the roster to fit Niemi under the cap? Also, what are the Hawks looking to give Niemi at this point to stay under the cap? Thanks.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:48 PM)

Maybe 21...never 20. I think they are offering between 1-1.5, thats my guess...maybe a little more

Scott P (Wilmette)

Did you attend the prospect camps? Who stood out? Do you think Beach has a shot at the roster?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:49 PM)

I mentioned beofre I like 19 year old D-man Dyaln Olsen and the Hayes brothers but thats limited viewing so who knows...Lalonde decent too..Beach has a chance..I believe hes about the only legit entry level guy so they dont have many bonuses to deal with...his cap hit with bonuses is doable at 800k or so...with bonuses over a mil so a little tougher..might come down to math and he could be up and down for sure

Bret (Riverside)

What can you tell us about Hannu Toivenen as it sounds like he will be on the bench this year?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:50 PM)

Decent as a prospect but hasnt realized his potential..interesting, has the same agent as niemi..Zito has good goalie group...but if niemi goes, opens the door for Toivonen...

Charley C (Chicago)

It seems that the PR coming from the Hawks is that there will be no more big player losses. Why is there all this talk of either Sharp or Neimi? Is the money really not there?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:52 PM)

Stan did not say that recently..in fact on monday he said they dont have a solution to the niemi issue right now...The money is not there and thats even with huet out of the picture..As i wrote previously, you have to think of the hawks not just signing hammer as a free-agent but also Toews, Kane, and Keith...thats where all the money went...they just did it mid-season but its kicking in now

Rob (Cubicle)

Why doesn't anyone think we can win with Crawford? We won with a rookie last year (Niemi)....and if we stick with Detroit's philosophy, where our goaltender doesn't have to win us games, just not lose them, then Crawford would be fine. Thoughts??!

Jesse Rogers
  (1:53 PM)

You might be right but Niemi beat out Craw so we have to assunme Craw not as good but no one knows for sure PLUS Antti had an incredible special team in fron of him..Craws wont be as good. I like Niemi a lot

Matt K (Chicago)

Will Bickell and Hendry be locked up this week now that they have Skille? What is Turco asking per year?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:54 PM)

Well he turned down 6 mil for 3 yrs form Philly so thats 2 mil right there but maybe he changes his mind..based on that though, looks like he wants more than 2!

Joe (Edison Park)

Jesse, would the hawks consider sending Reasoner down to the minors and having a cheaper option like Dowell play center on the 4th line....could save a half mil and right now that is a ot given their cap situation

Jesse Rogers
  (1:54 PM)

Yes

Laura (Elmhurst)

Do you think there is any chance to trade Campbell or is it looking like Niemi is the odd man out? Do you think there is another option to keep Niemi?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:55 PM)

No other option. Campbell or some kind of savings on reasoner, kopecky, or someone else like that..Niemi has a small chance of being opening night starter...very small

Jesse Rogers
  (1:56 PM)

getting a lot of questions on niemi, etc. if you are just joining in look at the chat so far..most everything answered there

Jerry (Libertyville)

At what $$$ amount will the Hawks walk away from Niemi? $2M? $2.5M?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:59 PM)

Hmm..its not so much about walking away cause then you get nothing for him...they have to decide if they "win" the case and get a decent number..can they even afford that...if they cant then they should trade him now...if they think they can afford 2 mil...but the arb says he gets 4..then I still think they might hold onto him through training camp and let things play out but eventually trade him...Im just doubting they walk away then they just say good bye to a stanley cup winning goaltender and got nothing for him..if that was the case , they should have traded him 2 days after the finals..they definitely would have gotten a decent package...decent, not the best but more than nothing that's for sure!

andy (chicago)

do you think skille and bickell can provide the same production or make up for it as the same players that were traded away did i.e. byfuglien, ladd and versteeg?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:00 PM)

In a word: no way. Ok, two words

Mike (Elk Grove Village)

Jesse, is the fact that Kyle Beach's NHL salary would be slightly more than $1 million the only thing keeping him off the NHL club at this point?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:01 PM)

Sort of answered before..it will be close...his base is less than that but with bonuses it goes over a mil so tough to say but he has a shot..there are no other major bonuses (like kane/toews had) to deal with so that helps him

Kathy (Palos Park)

Although I'm pretty sure that John Madden won't be returning I don't recall hearing anything official on that. Also are Troy Brouwer and Tomas Kopecky back for sure or are they in question?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:03 PM)

There is no announcemnt on a plyer NOT returning except in some very specific situations. Its obvious they have moved on from him and hes too expensive as well...Brouwer is a bargain at a mil so doubt hes going anywhere..If they could package reasoner and kopecky to save some money for niemi, maybe that helps. Be saving a mil total if you replace them with minimum guys but again whos lining up for those guys?

Paul Gamboa (Naperville, Il)

I agree with most of the moves that they've made as they've been players that were very inconsistent and disappeared for long stretches during the season. However, how does the team take it when popular personalities in the lockerroom are traded? I know they know it's a business, but there's been a lot of colorful and seemingly well liked people moved. Thanks!

Jesse Rogers
  (2:04 PM)

It will definitely be a different dynamic...burish, buff, steeg...just to name 3 were all personalities so it changes...doesnt have to be for the bad but we'll see if its for the good...the unkown in this case is not a good thing since the known was very good!

Buddy (Las Vegas)

Didnt the Hawks foresee this salary cap problem when they gave out these large contracts to Keith, Towes, Campbell, etc..?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:06 PM)

Definitely but what can you do? At least you have those 3 and at pretty decent cap hits...Heres the deal: You can only have so many "stars" or "special" players..they locked those ones up and now they fill in with the rest..its too bad to lose guys ENTERING their prime..really stinks..hell, some, havent even reached thier prime

Dan (Lockport)

Thanks for being available today, JR. With the recent events of Kovy's contract (and if this becomes a grudge match between the union and the league), could you foresee the union fighting for Huet come September/October when he can officially be "demoted" as the Hawks have been deliberately piecing together a roster without him in mind?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:07 PM)

No, thats a whole other scenario...Huet gets paid his money no matter where he plays..teams have to be able to make personnell decisions..

Kurt (Chicago)

Jesse, Do you think Kopecky, currently slated for the second line and increased ice time, will double his output if he remains on the second line all year?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:07 PM)

Maybe..he seems kind of streaky..think he had three, 2 goal games...who knows where he ends up playing but he did play better as the season went along..

Rachel (Chicago)

Do you think Hjalmarsson's new contract at all affects negotiations for an extension on Seabrook this upcoming season?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:08 PM)

Probably in some manner...every dollar hammer made is one less for seabs in a sense but as for marketplace it certainly helps seabrook as well...he will want a big jump, no doubt

James ((Downers Grove))

So with Byfuglien, Versteeg and Burish gone, who do you anticipate your go-to guys for quotes being this upcoming season?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:10 PM)

I'd be lying if I said I had not thought about it. Of the new guys, i suppose Beach could be a loose cannon, since, well, he is. Kane is good and will have to step up his game...it has not been a good off-season in that dept. Pray Reasoner hates vancouver as much as burish!

Austin (Rochester, Indiana)

Do you have any idea exactly how much salary must be dumped after the playoff bonuses and Huet's exit are computed?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:11 PM)

Not sure what you are asking..none HAS to be dumped but guys just cant be getting a ton of money from here on out...

Dan (Chicago)

Jesse,Two questions. Do you think the Hawks will be proactive this year and try to extend Seabrook during the season like they did with KKT to avoid any offer sheets next Summer?Do you think a part of the reason that the Hawks are hesitant to give Niemi big money is partially because next season such goaltenders as Gigure, Bryzgalov, Anderson, Vokoun, Harding and Leclaire will be free agents?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:13 PM)

Cant answer the first part just yet, need time to ponder and look at contracts,etc. BUT if they deem him in that core categorey and they can afford it than yes.They just ran out of money. Thats the answer on Niemi...i dont believe it has to do with the market

Steve (Northbrook)

Jesse, could you fill us in on why Torchetti went to Atlanta to take the same exact position he had here? Seems odd that a coach would leave a Stanley Cup team after the year and not stick around longer if he wasn't going to get a head coaching position. Did he not get along with Coach Q? Was it money?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:15 PM)

Could easily be money since they gave him associate head coach or whatever second in command title they call it. but also, think about it, Q just won the Cup, hes not going anywhere..Atl could fire ramsay 10 days into the season and there's torch to take over..or maybe it happens a year from now, either way he's one step closer to a head gig there

JR (Chicago)

Will Niemi take $1 million because he knows that he's going to be playing for the best team in the NHL?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:16 PM)

NO

Ryan (Elgin)

On a positive note, at least those bonuses wont be counting against the cap next year....should help, wont be a complete savior but think what we could do with that 4 million right now

Jesse Rogers
  (2:17 PM)

Absolutely. That 4 mil is what burish and vertseeg or buff will bascially make this year

jake (Chi Town)

Why dont the hawks consider trading seabrook because it would seem like they can get a lot for him and then you can keep sharp next year

Jesse Rogers
  (2:18 PM)

It may have crossed thier mind but top 4 d-men are a priority so you trade him and you weaken yuor team now..at some point you have to think about the season coming up..its one reason why hammer was matched

Jesse Rogers
  (2:18 PM)

couple more questions

Charley (Portland OR)

I don't understand all the love for Neimi, he almost cost the Hawks the Cup. Yes he had two good series but he also had two bad series vs the Flyers and Preds. I say cut Huet, trade Neimi and go with Crawford.

Jesse Rogers
  (2:19 PM)

I dont have a lot of time but WRONG. He did not almost cost them the cup, and without him they have a much TOUGHER time getting there..(and maybe they dont!)

Steve (Chicago)

Assuming Campbell stays and is the #3 D-Man, and John Scott is the #5 D-Man, who is your best prediction to be the #6 D-Man? Hendry, Lalonde, Vishnevskiy, or someone else?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:19 PM)

Inside track is Hendry...but i think scott is 6..one of the young guys could pass them though so you never know

Nathan (Quad Cities)

I think people are thinking too much into how many pieces were dealt away. We definitely did not get duds in return. We won't be perennial favorites every year, but all we have to do is get to the playoffs and we'll be a dangerous team no matter what. Do you agree Jesse?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:21 PM)

For the most part, yes. Its just that a "dynasty" type team comes along like once in a lifetime and thats what they had but then again as others have pointes out without hte cap hossa probably isnt here cause det had to let him go for the same reasons the hawks are letting guys go but yes they should be good and then you roll the dice in the playoffs...i have NO problem with that

Michael (Evanston)

Jesse,I never can understand why people are consistantly down on Tomas Kopecky. The guy plays hard, is not afraid to mix it up (Carcillo), can score some big goals, and is a solid teammate. I never understood why Coach Q made him a healthy scratch. Do you think Kopecky can emerge as a top 6 forward this year?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:22 PM)

AHH, I agree with a little of what you are saying..his bark is much bigger than his bite..he likes to mix it up and then skate away but he is a bit gritty, has a decent shot, not the best hands..not the biggest fan but dont hate him either..

Randy (Elk Grove, CA)

Kaner seemed to really step it up the final 2 games against Phi. Throughout the whole playoffs he even got beter and better with his physical part of the game. Plus his attitude/cockiness is now at an all-time high. Think he can be up there with the Crosby's and Ocvhkins next season?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:23 PM)

Hmm, his size will alwys be an issue but I do commend him on improving his strength..for all his partying he does take hockey seriously and if he comes back after THIS offseason of having fun then maybe he can be a 100 point guy but not crosby and ovechkin..they are a diff category.

Jesse Rogers
  (2:25 PM)

ok, thats it for today. same time and day next week. then a major break in august! hope to see you all at the convention soon. stop me and say hi. dont be shy. email me at jrogers@espnchicago.com if your question did not get answered. follow me on twitter @espnchihawks. sign up now...will have the latest on niemi when it breaks. and Ill be on the radio on some sunday mornings coming up as well. espn 1000. take care all!