Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Young Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are resting on their youth, by the number of big signings they've made this summer. That isn't to say that they haven't signed any quality players, but there really hasn't been many marquee guys to fill up lockers in the dressing room. What they did manage to sign were good veteran players that can provide some leadership for the new players who are up and coming.

Martin HavlatRobert LangTuomo Ruutu
Radim VrbataYanic PerreaultJason Williams
Martin LapointePatrick SharpSergei Samsonov
Patrick Kane *Jonathan ToewsRene Bourque
Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook
Cam BarkerJim Vandermeer
Andrei ZyuzinJames Wisnewski *
Nikolai Khabibulin
Patrick Lalime

Please remember, these are not line match-ups, they are just where they would fit according to last season's numbers. Obviously, you look at someone like Toews, he could very well jump to that number one spot at centre in no time.

As noted, you can see a few new names to the Chicago line-up that should help everybody out. Robert Lang, Yanic Perreault and Sergei Samsonov will help lead the youth of the Blackhawks, not to mention their possible linemates. If Lang is to hook up with Havlat this season, the stock should immediately rise for Lang, saying that Havlat can play at least 70 games. Perreault won't likely see much time on the second line, he'll probably adapt to a reliable third line centre role, used a lot for his face-offs.

Toews is expected to make the line-up this year and is my favourite to win the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie, but let's not count out Patrick Kane. He will be given every opportunity in camp to make the team and with help from a guy like Toews or Martin Lapointe, he may find himself with enough backing to get there. The smell of 'dynamic duo' is wafting in Chicago.

The new face of the blueline is Andrei Zyuzin. Zyuzin only scored 6 points in 49 games for the Flames last season, which was far from expectations, but won't come to the Blackhawks squad as the go-to guy for offense. He does bring more size to the table and will generally relied upon that as the new guy in town. Barker, Seabrook and Keith could all very well break out this year as the excitement for winning is surely upon that young core.

With youth and inexperience comes a liability for opposing shots on goal. Nikolai Khabibulin will take another shot at protecting the Hawks' net and at $6.75 million this year, he'll be expected to do well. He won 25 games last season for the squad and that should crack the 30-mark barring injury. His importance amongst goaltenders should go up from being ranked 27th in pool points.

Where does this all leave Chicago against the cap? With Wisnewski and Kane unsigned at the moment, the Blackhawks starting 20 sits at roughly $38.5 million. There's plenty of room for the Hawks to move in and possibly acquire some character third or fourth liners in the coming weeks.

** UPDATE ** Patrick Kane signed a 3-year entry level deal with the Hawks with a base salary of $875,000 and a bonus package worth another $2.8 million. The base salary will lift the cap number to about $39.4 million.

Technorati Tags
, , , ,

No comments: