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July 28, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Jesse Rogers

Jesse Rogers
  (1:02 PM)

Hey all. Happy Wednesday...convention coming up in 2 days...then I suspect a quiet month of august before training camp starts to rev up. Been a busy off-season. Lets get right to some Hawk talk!

Pat (Chicago)

With it looking more and more likely that Niemi and the Hawks will not reach an agreement prior to arbitration, what is the likely hood he will be a FA this weekend? If he is gone who is Crawford the favorite to be in net next season?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:03 PM)

I doubt the hawks will turn down the arb number and just let him walk UNLESS its just a huge figure and they might get caught with too much money on the payroll to open the season...but if the number is just a slightly too high as in about 3 mil. I think they keep him and then trade him or someone else by oct. 1 basically....crawford or i think turco is in play as well

Nate (Chicago)

Is Viktor Stalberg pretty much definitely part of the roster for next season?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:05 PM)

More than likely he's on the team..he'd be a casualty if they were trying to squeeze niemi in after the arbitration..they could save about 350k if they replace him with a minimum guy...that would go to niemi..but they could make plans for that now and offer Niemi a number that works and apparently they havent...

Nate (Chicago)

With Leddy signed now, where do you figure he'll spend most of year?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:06 PM)

Good question. Some would assume if they signed him away from college they want him on the hawks but at 19, maybe they just want him a pro and have him ready for the NHL soone rrather than later...its a tough call without seeing training camp..ill say rockford to start cause thats the easy answer..his bonus situation could play a part as well..cause of cap

Gary (Berkeley)

Do you think given some of the success he's had this past year that we can expect a faster start to the season from Toews? He came out guns a-blazing his rookie season, but the past two season's his scoring touch has taken time to get going. Any thoughts on the matter?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:07 PM)

Havent really thought about it. We dont havea ton of evidence to say he's a slow starter or whatever..just a couple years..hes so dedicated that I think its more of a coincidence than anything but I suppose this year could answer that

Shannon (Lisle)

Any final thoughts or insights on the Niemi situation before his hearing? Which side do you think has a stronger case? If forced to make your best educated guess, do you think Niemi will be back next year?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:10 PM)

I would have to say Niemi has a slightly stronger case only in that for him to "win" they arbitrator only has to go for like 3 mil. Thats not all that much when you consider comparable players which they will do. And "Stanley Cup Winning Goaltender" has more of a positive ring than "he's only played a half a season" does on the negative side...He'll get AT LEAST 2.5..prob more like 3 OR EVEN 3.5..other extreme would be 4...I do not think he will be back. best guess. Ive been saying less than 50/50 and we'll leave it at that

Elliott (Rockford)

Is the final D pairing up for grabs at this point for whoever can produce the best showing at training camp? What's the status on Jordan Hendry these days, and if he does re-sign, can we count on him to contribute more?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:11 PM)

I've been told all along he'd be back but hes not going to get much more than 500k. Hes part of that final D pair with John Scott in the roatation, also as a forward, plus maybe Leddy or Lalonde...so there are some choices there, depending on camp.

Alex (Chicago)

What's the likelihood any or all of the following prospects log any sort of considerable time with the big club: Marcus Kruger, Shawn LaLonde, Nick Leddy, Kyle Beach (and his high cap hit and propensity for being a head case)?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:13 PM)

Beach's cap hit is a concern but if Niemi walks, its not so bad unless he hits all his bonuses..even then, not horrendous. Leddy has a chance now that he's leaving college. Kruger, decent chance..I wish I could tell you more. This is what traning camp is for..If a guy scores 5 goals in 3 pre-season games, he gets a better look than others..Just an example..

Alex (Chicago)

How much do suppose it will affect the coaching staff's tactics that they're going from a team last year that essentially had no true rookies (since Antti is older) to a team that could have quite a few?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:14 PM)

Good question. Definitely a lot of teaching, especially if they go young with a couple D-men..BUt yeah, new people mean learning all over again, etc. No doubt new challenge for Q and staff

John (Quad Cities)

Jess - Theodore, Turco or Niemi? Who's your choice and why?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:17 PM)

If you have read any of my blogs I think you know how I feel. There is little doubt in how I would rank them. Niemi, Turco, and a distant third would be Theodore..Not a fan at all...I used to LOVE Turco but times have changed. I do think Niemi is the real deal...I dont understand how the playoffs did not convince the masses of this..hes only enetering his prime and now has a TON more confidence than he had enetering the playoffs although this off-season may have taken him down a notch..who knows. I do like that Turco can handle the puck but who cares if he's letting in 4 a game!

Colin (Chicago)

Nobody could replace Niemii's playoff stats. You NEED to resign this guy

Jesse Rogers
  (1:18 PM)

Or i could have just said that

denard (lake villa)

jesse, is niemi all he's cracked up to be? he had a 2.63 goals against in the playoffs-good for 6th best among goalies in the playoffs. niemi was playing behind one of the best offensive teams in the league, and he also had one of the best defensive groups, if not the best, in front of him. i am a fan of niemi's, but i feel like the hawks could get by with another goalie, for a lot cheaper than niemi will be. is this an accurate statement or am i missing something?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:22 PM)

I understand that arguement. I do. But let me tell you, when the puck was in the hawks zone, think of Nashville and san jose and Philly...the Hawks WERE NOT that great on D...they gave up 5 more shots a game in the playoffs than in the reg season..that doesnt sound like a lot but it is..if we were basing this on reg season I would agree with you, the hawks were never in their own zone...(forget the fact that it can be hard to play goalie seeing few shots--see huet for evidence) but in the playoffs..diff story...Nashville with no offensive firepower outshot the hawks 2 games ina row..that did not happen ONCE in the reg season...not once...he was fantastic on the PK in that series..and dont get me started on san jose...44 saves, twice. again, did not happen in reg season...ok, philly he was just better than the other guy but that was enough...what if he let in that soft goal that leighton did to lose the series? he didnt.

Matt D. (Chicago, IL)

Jesse, With the outlook for Niemi minding the Hawks net next year looking pretty grim and Turco turning down Philly's $2 million offer, how well do you think a Corey Crawford can do with the roster in place in front of him for the 2010 - 2011 season?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:23 PM)

Tough call. I like him but he cant ease into the role..ALL eyes will be on him..but at least its mostly the same D...i dont think the roster in front of him will be the deciding factor in his play..he can either handle it or he cant

Moose (Chicago)

Who from this this years team that has already left will the blackhawks miss the most next year ?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:25 PM)

Another tough one...come spring: BIG BUFF of course. It really is tough to say, they all do different things..man, steeg came on in the playoffs..Ladd is steady...and then there is Buff..Ill just say Buff bt it could easily be steeg..Ladd is a good player but not a difference maker..Buff showed he could be, if hes not sleepwalking!

David (North Shore)

Sad that - now that the Hawks have an owner willing to pay for players, the cap kills it. Altho I doubt it will happen, it would be nice if the NHL / NHLPA could figure out a way to have a softer cap so teams could more easily stay together. Eh?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:27 PM)

Well, maybe. My big beef is actually that good teams that spend can afford their high draft picks to make the team cause of bonuses,etc. Bickell had a shot last year cause he was cheap..skille and maybe beach this year get put behind the 8 ball because they are good. Its a little backward. But anyway, I understand your sentiment..As others have pointed out if not for the cap, Hossa would still be on det. so it works both ways

Jesse Rogers
  (1:27 PM)

That should say CAN'T afford

MARC (PLAINFIELD)

I READ THAT JORDON HENRY SIGN A CONTACT WITH THE KHL IS THAT TRUE I HOPE NOT I LIKED THAT GUY!!

Jesse Rogers
  (1:28 PM)

Thats HENRY not Hendry.Diff player ..come off the ledge

Mike (Addison)

Is trading Campbell still being looked at as a possibility for the Hawks? Finding a team to take him would solve many problems right away, especially if Niemi gets more than 3 mil in arbitration

Jesse Rogers
  (1:29 PM)

I think its always on the table....Im sure all teams know he can be had

Andy (Illinois)

Can the Hawks sign Niemi to say a four or five year deal paying $2 mil per the first two years then raise to $4 or $5 mil over the last couple of years?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:30 PM)

yes, but the CAP hit which is all we care about would be the average of the 4 years...so lets say its a total of 12 mil for 4 years...its still 3 mil a year against the cap

Mike (Chicago)

I know it is early but have you seen any of these young guys such as Beach or Olson step up their game and could you see any of these young guys in camp make an impact with all the roster movement going on this off season?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:31 PM)

As I have written previously, I liked Olsen at the camp earlier this month and beach fought anyone who looked at him funny...I think Olsen is a year away..Obviously they like Leddy enough to lure him away from college so he has a chance..

Randy Johnson (Elk Grove, CA)

Kane and Toews were pretty effective when separated for the last two games against the Flyers. What do you think about them each being on a different line, ie. Kane/Sharp/?? and Toews/Hossa and Kop?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:33 PM)

Gut feeling, they will start the season together but as we know that could change at any point. I would imagine...toews/kane/brouwer...hossa/sharp/kopecky are how the lines are written on Q's cocktail napkin right now...Bolland centers the third line but with injury sharp could move back to wing and bolland up but thats how it will start Im guessing

Eric (Chicago)

Jesse, Jim Hendry (GM of the Cubs) has a great track record when it comes to players and arbitration, give him a call and see if he can't get something done...Just Kidding. Anyway, what are the chances that the goalies for the Hawks are Crawford and Turco?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:34 PM)

Pretty good...as long as the ycan afford both..im guessing Turco would take between 2 and 2.5, which is what the hawks basically have to spend...craw will make 800k in the minors or the nhl

mark L (Asheville NC)

Ok. I'm just carious if all goes to hell and we sign Theodore or Turco. How would he fit in. Do you think he would mesh well with the Hawks style of play.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:35 PM)

Turco fits in good..puck moving team..he's a puck moving goalie...just not sure what he has left..he'll be older than both Khabby and Huet were when they signed here so we'll see..I think he can be decent..I like Nimei better

Jeff (Arlington Heights)

Jesse, love the Hawks coverage! Do you think the hawks will be making any other bigs moves coming up, other then a move for a goalie?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:36 PM)

No..its near minimum type guys the rest of the way unless they go with Craw and Toivonen, then maybe they can afford a mil dollar guy or what not

Tiffanie (Chicago)

Jesse: With the arbitration looming tomorrow, I read your article on Niemi. I'm nervous that we're going to let a proven winner walk somewhere else. I'm with you on the fact that the guy won us a Cup, who cares if he played less than half a season? But if Niemi and the Hawks do part ways, do you really see the Hawks throwing money at Turco to come here? Past his prime and hasn't done a lot lately. What are the other options? Go with Crawford and Toivonen?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:37 PM)

You pretty much summed it up and yes i could see them going after Turco..Im not sure they would qualify it as throwing money away though. lol Im pretty sure the sides have talked very specifically..

Jon B (Newfoundland)

Hey Jesse,Gonna deviate from the normal niemi q's and go with some fortune telling. Any pre-season thoughts on how the Western Conference standings are going to look at the end of the season based on the moves teams have made this off season? 1 - 8 would suffice.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:39 PM)

San JoseL.A.ChicagoDetroitSt.LouisVancouverPhoenixNashvilleI have no idea

Ben (River Forest IL)

Can you explain when drafted players become restricted/unrestricted free agents as well as when they are eligible for arbitration? It seems odd that guys like niemi and hendry have only been on the team one year and are already arbitration eligible and restricted free agents

Jesse Rogers
  (1:44 PM)

Wont go into complete detail but age is a major factor..under 27, you become restricted when your contract is up...at 27 or older you are unrestricted...at certain ages you are arbitration elgibile which can also be based on time spent in the league...Niemi is 26 so he's eligible.then there are these qualifying offers..they did not extend one to hendry so hes NOT arbitration eligible but he did become unrestricted because of it..can actually sign with anyone but his agent told me from day 1 the hawks wanted him back..they just havent come to an agreement yet (or maybe they have..they were very close..i imagine...all these signings will be official in next 48 hours..sorry if thats not clear enough..

Bill (Chicago)

Will we see Leddy on the NHL club this year or will he be in Rockford all year?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:46 PM)

Simply impossible to answer...A guess would be we would see him but thats just a guess...They must have convinced him he has a shot of playing sooner rather than later i imagine

bob (burr ridge)

Im sure the hawks will offer niemi 2-3 million, he wants 3-4 million, he's not worth that so will marty turco accept less than that to be on a stanley cup contending team

Jesse Rogers
  (1:47 PM)

With the Hawks 2-3 million is a large range...I think he might take 2.8 (maybe) but not 2.3 which is what I think Turco would take

Larry (Chicago)

Jesse...good blog on how arbitration works. But I'm wondering how difficult it should be to trade Kopecky to a team with cap space like Anaheim or Tampa Bay? We'd be asking for next to nothing in return and they could use Kopy. Maybe Yzerman would want him because of the Detroit connection. It just doesn't seem like it would be that hard to trade Kopy to clear space for a deal with Niemi. Your thoughts?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:49 PM)

Cant disagree...Though we cant say for sure they havent tried..Its why I dont believe they believe in Niemi all the way either..They are pretty close. Its not Niemi or Sharp anymore..At this point if it comes down to Niemi or Kopecky (and maybe satlberg in the minors) Im sure I know what most fans would say to that but something tells me its more complicated than that..It must be, right?

Fitz (My Cube)

Jess, have you seen the DVD yet? I tried to get it the night it came out but that line was insaine...if you have seen it what are you thoughts? thanks

Jesse Rogers
  (1:49 PM)

Just got it in the mail yesterday...will look tonight

steven (chicago)

if we sign Turco for around 2 mil (if niemi doesn't come back) do we have enough money to still field the team we want (i.e. with people like stalberg who are making more than he minimum).

Jesse Rogers
  (1:50 PM)

yes

Dan G (Buffalo Grove)

Jesse- Regardless of what happens w/ Niemi, do you see any scenario which HUET is with the Hawks on opening night? Also, which rookie do you see making the greatest impact on the Hawks in 2010-2011? Thanks

Jesse Rogers
  (1:51 PM)

No way Huet. No chance...I dont know what his technical status is but I'll go with stalberg..told hes got some talent...

matt (bg)

Would it be in Niemi's best interest to take a 1 year deal with a defensive puck possesion team like the hawks and pad his stats for another year, then go out and try to land a big deal next year? in any case if we can keep him great, but if it doesn't make sense then lets roll the dice on Crawford.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:52 PM)

No i dont. No agent would suggest that. He ALREADY won the cup to have to prove himself again doesnt sound like the pro athlete way, does it? I performed, now pay me!

Andy (Chicago)

Jesse, what does next years offseason look like. Are we going to have to go through this again?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:54 PM)

In some manner as long as keith, toews, kane, hossa, and campbell are under contract than yes...add sharp and bolland then yes, even more so...

John (Plainfield, IL)

I thought Bickell's contract was a steal for the Hawks. Do you think he'll outplay his contract by the end of the 3 years or does his contract truly reflect his potential?

Jesse Rogers
  (1:55 PM)

Im sure Q would agree with you..he likes him a lot. I also agree. he's big and with some decent hands..Wont be hard to outplay his deal

JPinSD (san diego)

Why does post season bonuses count towards the cap? Makes no sense at all.

Jesse Rogers
  (1:56 PM)

Dont have an answer except it must be for the same reason reg season does so teams dont load up on that...if you said postseason did not count than wouldnt perennial playoff teams circumvent the cap by paying lower salaries and put in for EASY bonuses in the postseason...you get my drift but I dont think winning the Conn Smythe should count...thats ridiculous....

marty (oak forest)

do you see the hawks sending huet to rockford to get rid of his salary or will he be sitting on the bench like a multi million dollar piece of junk

Jesse Rogers
  (1:57 PM)

For the millionth time this off-season..rockford or most likely Europe

Dave (Winnetka)

It seems that management lost track of the bonus hit on the year's cap ($5MM) - just after (or before?) Versteeg was traded, Bowman said they didn't have to make any more moves - then it seems like it all hit the fan. Your thoughts?

Jesse Rogers
  (2:00 PM)

yeah, Im not sure why he at least intimated that. Maybe you're right...anybody that did the math knew they had to or maybe he was being very technical cause at that point Hammer, Ladd, Niemi, etc. were unsigned so their salaries did not count..but of course their potential salaries counted but Im not sure why he said that

Jesse Rogers
  (2:00 PM)

Couple more

marty (oak forest)

would we get any money if we send him to europe

Jesse Rogers
  (2:00 PM)

If so, very little

Ed (Sacramento, Ca.)

As a longtime Blackhawks fan (over 50 years) to have lamented the Blackhawks letting Dominac Hasek leave and lose one of the best goaltenders ever. Sign Niemi...find a way......

Jesse Rogers
  (2:00 PM)

Amen

Jeff (Arlington Heights)

in your oppinion is the Hawks D good enough for a goalie like crawford to take tehm far into the playoffs?

Tom (Crystal Lake, Illinois)

Jesse: The argument is not that the Hawks don't value nor want Niemi; rather, if either his arbitration entry or salary demand exceeds a certain number, then the unavoidable consequence is that Patrick Sharp must be dealt, since Campbell's contract is immovable. Considering that reality, I pick Sharp over Niemi. The argument is not about appreciation or confidence towards Niemi; it's about a potential financial impossibility that cannot be ignored. Thank you.

Jesse Rogers
  (2:03 PM)

Ill finish with this one...cause in one sense you are right but its also about priorities..Niemi isnt one..or else they would have come at him hard before July 1 or gotten REAL creative with a deal OR would move kopecky and send stalberg down Or, etc. etc. We can argue sharp over Niemi but not the first 4 things I just said.

Jesse Rogers
  (2:05 PM)

Ok, thanks all...thats going to do it. great questions. Make sure you follow me on twitter for the latest on Niemi arbitration @espnchihawks. story will be on the website when it happens...they have the hearing tomorrow. arbitrator has 48 hours to decide and then hawks have 48 hours to accept or decline..ill be at the convention. stop and say hello. Im the bald one! u can email me at jrogers@espnchicago.com if i did not get to your question. Not sure when the next chat will be cause after the convention its vacation time though I will be hosting on espn 1000 this sunday morning so tune in and call in! take care and have a great august!