Hello all, welcome to our weekly Blackhawks chat. We are inching closer to training camp. Its just about 2 weeks away...we're doing an early addition cause im going to head to the United center to see some hawks do the ceremonial painting of the logos and lines on the ice. Look for a video in my blog later today..I guess that means hockey is around the corner. So fire away with questions
Are we going to see a more active Hjalmarsson in the offensive zone or is that something that is never going to be part of his game?
I would like to think so. He has to produce more than 10 points you would think. I want to gauge his confidence level in camp. He finished pretty strong and now has had some struggles so maybe the worst is behind him...everyone needs to have some failures to be better, maybe this was it for him. Hey, 20-25 points would look great compared to last year so he can only go up just dont expect some monster yr on offense at this point
One of your followers north of the border made this comment on the mailbag post yesterday, thinking it was a question submission. So here's my assist for the season..."Being from Canada, I've been following Brandon Pirri"s progress. At Rockford last year he had a slow start but a tremendous finish and I"m amazed at his progress. Never have I followed a youngster this talented who never played in the OHL, WHL, or at least a couple of years in a major college. What are your thoughts about Pirri?"
I like him but he wasnt "special" enough I dont think to pass up Kruger who has stolen (it looks like) a center spot from any other prospect at this point...Pirri got his cup of coffee last year and might be a player but he has to stand in line some more...granted, I havent seen him day in and day out but from what I know and heard, nice but nothing special to this point
even with new veterans at d-men........ do you think they'll be talented enough at the position to make a deep playoff run?
Legit question...More than likely, a long run will depend on the top 4...with rest and a little renewed hunger I think so...alot is riding on Leddy in my opinion...they have enough bodies that it also allows someone like lepisto or O'donnell to step up but it will be something to watch for sure
Jesse, should we be worried about Kaner's wrist?
I dont think so but I just dont like that its thrown him off his workout routine at this time of year when players are revving it up. He's a one dimensional player who you have to pencil in for 80 points or more, if healthy, so anything that throws that off is a concern...I just hope its not a slow start and the wrist or lack of preseason work is blamed even if its technically healthy
Hey, Jesse, with Jordan Hendry out of the picture, who's gonna lead the team at fitness testing this year?
Ha. Yeah Hendry was up there if I recall...Keith is always as youd expect..I assume Toews is near off the charts...but sometimes it is guys you dont expect...of course fitness testing doesnt translate into much if you dont have the talent to go with it
Does Kyle Beach have a legitimate chance at making the roster this year?
Dont think so. No room. Needs maturing. Not near ready from all indications.
I remember hearing that the UC hasn't had the best ice in the past. Have you heard anything about improvements, especially since it will primarily be used for hockey this season?
Will be something to look into during training camp for sure..and i assume they will practice there more,etc without the NBA but yes, the fewer times they switch the ice the better...will def report on that in camp
Jesse,Everyone keeps talking about Duncan Keith's drop-off from his Norris Trophy career year. And I continue to hear rumors that he could be traded. Any truth to those rumors?
Seriously, where are you hearing those rumors..now anything is possible but why lock up a guy like that just to trade him after a down year? Plus his cap hit is great. Alot of guys had down years after the Cup...I dont think hes going anywhere unless it was like in a mega deal for Shea Weber or Doughty...I mean if you move him, you have to replace him so whats the point...unless you really think he'll tank it for yrs to come..No way they believe that but he does need to rebound
Please evaluate the defense with Campbell and Campoli gone
Thats where Leddy is big. He'll replace some of that puck moving ability and probabaly be paired with Hjalamrsson to start camp. Its a slower D if O'Donnell and Montador are playing but I do like the penalty killing aspect a little bit better, especially with Montador...The jury is out on its overall effectiveness but I like it, not sure I love it compared to stanley cup year...
Is it October yet? Seems to me like Q's got a plan for his lines before the season starts as opposed to all of the mixing and matching he did to start last season, trying to find the right combinations.
Every coach has an idea heading into the season but I guarantee you he'll change his mind a few times before October...and probably after October unless they come out firing on all cylinders...the good and bad of it is he has so many directions he can go in starting with who plays 2nd line center..everything trickles down (or up) from there...again, thats good and bad in one sense cause there are interchangeable parts but it reminds of the old saying in football "if you think have two capable quaterbacks, you dont have one." point being, a legit 1-4 for centers is better than what they have but it doesnt mean they cant be successful
In wake of the recent news about Sidney Crosby still feeling some side effects from his concussion, what do you think of the league's stance on head shots?
At some point Im not sure what more the league can do, right? I do agree that players need to police themselves and care for each other a little bit better..at least a little. I played the game, I pretty much knew what I was doing and where I was doing it..Not every concussion is going to be avoidable but there is enough that are which could reduce this problem significantly..obviously, they can make the punishments outrageous to eliminate SOME of the crap so that would be the first step...its sad. someone has to come up with a better helmet too you would think with technology what it is
Do you ever give you an Intern for the season? Where can I apply? (Unpaid is just fine by me.)
Ha. I wish. I hate having to get up to get food from the press buffett. That's a joke..press box pretty full, not much room for interns...so no, Im on my own. Sorry
Who do you think will be this year's Ben Smith? One of the Hayes brothers? Morin? Also, does Beach have any chance of ever making the Hawks? Haven't heard good things from Rockford.
Guys, Jesse just called and said he lost his Internet connection. He'll be back on in a minute or two. Thanks.
Sorry about that. That hasnt happened in a while. Hope your all still there! Lets continue...
Well, if you mean who might come up late and make a difference, Morin would be the obvious choice. Jimmy Hayes looked great at prospects camp so if they need a big guy like that, maybe it can be him..so tough to say right now cause i would never have guessed Smith last year...tough for those guys to be on my radar when dont watch them play in rockford day in and day out...the hawks do reward for performance and not draft status..you have to like that
I know training camp will play a big part in this, but I would love a chance to see what Olsez (sp?) could do with top talent. Even if it means sending a player down if there is one available to do that.
Yeah, he'll get a look...i wrote the other day though he might be the odd man out when you consider hes really the one guy they didnt really go out and seek thoug they say they like him..we all know that was all about ridding themselves of campbell's contract...maybe he impresses in which case, yes someone esle is sent down or sent packing
Do you feel Wirtz/Bowman feel added pressure to find a spot for Olesz in the line up given the amount of money we are paying him? I realize the jury is still out on him, but what is the scouting report on him? Why hasn't he found success, and why'd they give up on him in Florida?
In talking to people from Florida, it sounds like one of those mysteries which happen to talented players.."just couldnt put it all together." So maybe the change of scenery will do him good...scouting report in terms of pure skill is pretty good but not so good when it comes to game action...its a good question about the money...they've proven the last 2 years in net especially, you dont get to play just cause youre being paid pretty well so maybe initally he gets a good look..I still think he ends up the odd man out unless he wows everyone, which he might..simply cant say today but in a month or so we'll know more
Jesse, love reading all of your tweets, blogs, etc - so thank you! What do you think we can expect from Corey Crawford this year? It was great to watch him out perform LOLongo during the first round, and it's clear he has really started to shine under various levels of pressure. Do you think that last season was enough to weather him ready for a full season as the #1 guy? Also, on that note, who are you calling for the backup (at least to start the season)?
I think Crawford can more than handle the load and now that he has a season under his belt as far as seeing shooters, etc I think he'll be even better..I see him using instincts more than just relying on technique...at least thats what they would like him to do...the easy answer for back-up would be Emery but I have heard good things about Salak..I dont have a dog in the race yet, maybe it becomes apparent in camp. It usually does. I still think a close call goes to Salak cause of his age and contract
Jesse, as currently constructed do you think the Hawks are legit Cup contenders or do you think Stan figures he will have to make future moves(either in Camp or during the season) to contend?
They are close but yeah, with some cap space and the hawks on record saying they are saving it for the deadline i think they tweek come the 2nd half..alot depends on kruger and his development as well as the back end of the defense and Leddy as well of course...if Olesz is shipped out then they really have some cap space to play with
Is Ben Smith a Calder trophy nominee this year?
Lets not jump the gun but if he plays in the top 6 he should put up some numbers assuming he gets pp time...i actually think he'll start on the 3rd line casuethe top 6 is pretty full..so numbers might not be as gaudy..its hard to know if he was flukishly good or there was something real there...I tend to think the WAY he played and not just the production bodes well for him...went to dirty areas, etc.
Is training camp fun to watch or did I waste $5?
For one day, its fun...for two weeks everyday, not as fun...but it beats heavy lifting...so yes, its worth it for sure
What can we expect from Carcillo? Besides the Stanley Cup series against the Hawks I don't know much about him.
I think people will be impressed by his skills since he's only known as a disturber...I know the hawks are big on their 4th line guys being able to play the game some..I mean every team would like that but Q likes interchangeale parts...You saw that with Eager and Burish when they won it...Eager was top line to 4th line and Burish can skate so there was more there than goonery...I hope he limits the bad penalties..he says he's learned but they all say that especially when coming to a new team
Do you think the additions of veterans such as SEAN O'DONNELL and ANDREW BRUNETTE will have the same effect on a young team as players like John Madden seemed to have on the stanley cup winning Blackhawks
I dont think it matters much for those guys though O'Donnell might have a bigger effect specifically on the blue liners...toews, keith, seabrook, and sharp are more important than anyone else
Hey Jesse the folks at Hockey Prospectus predicted a breakout year for Michael Frolic this year possibly 30 goals. I think if that happens we will be in the hunt for another cup what do you think?
Hmm...tough call...man, we are putting a lot on one playoff series...remember, he was kind of quiet after coming over here...plus, as Ive written and said before, look at the last 3 playoff years...anyone that lines up next to Bolland ends up smelling like roses, Havlat (not known as a 3rd line guy), Versteeg, Bickell, etc. He forces you to play both ends...anyway, I want to see it in frolik before I believe it..I think as a 3rd liner with limited pp, Im guessing 30 is too high...
Chicago media was all about Cutler getting the offense together for workouts this offseason. With all the changes again and an early exit to the offseason, any word that Toews or anyone has gotten some of the guys together to build some chemistry?
This is the time of year they do it..now and over the next couple of weeks...they'll get a group and skate together everyday in the morning in chicago and then Im sure go out at night and have some fun
Jesse,What do you make of Stan Bowman saying Kane was ready to go and then Kane telling Toronto radio he wouldn't be ready until after training camp. I never heard anyone comment on that
I think it was splitting hairs...i think Kane was just saying hes not concerend how he feels in camp but cares more about oct. i dont think there was a big diff in opinion there
How do you see the Central shaking out this season with the improvement of Columbus and will the Hawks stand atop the division?
Yeah, I would give the hawks the edge. Columbus will be better but not in hawks class dont think...det will still be there.
With Brouwer gone, who becomes the new Brouwer? I think he will fit in nicely with the Caps, especially with Vokoun in net. Didn't like to see him go, as he seemed like a nice guy and good utility player.
Well Im not sure what you mean by the new Brouwer. In terms of simply the hits statistic? Hard to know..I know alot of people would like to see Bickell do that stuff...anyway, i dont think there is a "new Brouwer". His production gets eaten up by several others like Brunette, etc.
Who are the top 4 on the D going to be this year? I know Seabrook and Keith for sure, but who will fill line 2?
Ive posted my pairings previously but from what Ive heard, Hjalmarsson and Leddy will start 3 and 4 while Montador is 5 and then the rest fight it out for 6...
Hey Jesse. Do you think some of Hammer's problems last year came from his suspension early on?
Its easy to use something like that in hindsight..I know Q has said it as well...I mean I guess we have tofind reasons...I'd buy it was a combination of factors starting with his new contract..He was the only RFA to get an offer sheet in the entire NHL so his "story" was well documented.I think he put too much pressure on himself form the get go then he gets overly aggressive and gets that suspension and I think he just went south early on from there
Lets say the Hawks are in the top 4 of the western conference come the trade deadline, who would you like to see the Hawks trade for and who do you think the Hawks would most likely add?
Well someone asked me in a mailbag blog recently about Shane Doan..probably my fav player over the years outside a Blackhawk. I know hes not a true, true center but I'd get him..its simple, center or D help if they need it at that point is what they would go after...
I noticed there isn't too much time at camp before preseason games start. Most other sports have month plus before games start, why is that? and is there a risk of injury throwing them out there that quickly?
Its always like that in hockey...always. Ive never heard of an injury due to early games..I dont think any sport has a month before preseason..football doesnt, baseball is a little longer, so its quick but its normal...
Refresh me on the money situation, do we have room to add someone at the deadline?
yes, hawks have 3 mil right now and probably will have a little more or maybe a lot more by start of the season
If the Hawks and Nucks meet again in the playoffs this year, with both teams healthy, do you think the Hawks could win the series?A friend of mine doesn't think so, but I think if they pushed them to 7 games last year that they could push them to 7 again this year, but with a W in game 7 instead of a Campoli turnover
Absolutely they could win...I mean we are in sept, actually august, how can we know but of course they have a good chance...dumb arguement right now..too early...sorry.
Ok, gotta run...will post a video blog of the boys painting the logos and stuff...maybe they'll let me on the ice..if so, look for the word ESPN somewhere on the ice! Thanks for the questions..follow me on twitter @espnchihawks...and check out my blog everyday!