Friday, September 17, 2010

Blackhawks Start to Defend Here

The Stanley Cup champs have had their expected fire sale this Summer, managing to keep a good group of the core players that helped them win everything last Spring, but with all this change, there lies some questions about chemistry, depth and goaltending.  How will it all come together in the early part of the season and will it all be enough to put a good push together for a repeat performance?

The Blackhawks have some jobs still to fill on their roster, according to my Summer roster, and with all of the trades and signings, they should be able to fill these gaps with some more young talent and thus keeping the team speed up, which was one of Chicago's biggest assets in their Cup run.

Up front, I have them with 10 forwards on the list, all of which are pretty close to being locks for the roster on opening night.  Then it is just a matter of finding the final few pieces for a 13-man unit.  I really like Kyle Beach and Chris Didomenico to fill in the gaps as two players that could likely play a bottom six role, but have some top six upside, if called upon.  Good bangers with some decent hands.  On defense, they are fairly stacked and John Scott could even play one of the forward roles, if called upon this year, which gives them some added flexibility on their roster.  In goal, there will be an added flavour of redemption, as Marty Turco should get the nod as the number one guy, but should get enough of a challenge from Corey Crawford to stay sharp.

Patrick KaneDuncan KeithMarty Turco
Jonathan ToewsBrian CampbellCorey Crawford
Patrick SharpBrent Seabrook
Marian HossaNiklas Hjalmarsson
Troy BrouwerJordan Hendry
Ryan PotulnyNick Boynton
Tomas KopeckyJohn Scott
Dave Bolland
Viktor Stalberg
Fernando Pisani
Kyle BeachJonathan CarlssonAlec Richards
Bryan BickellBrian ConnellyHannu Toivonen
Brandon BolligJassen Cullimore
Evan BropheySimon Danis-Papin
Nathan DavisShawn Lalonde
Chris DidomenicoNick Leddy
Jake DowellRyan Stanton
Hugh JessimanIvan Vishnevsky
Rob Klinkhammer
Marcus Kruger
Igor Makarov
Jeremy Morin
Mathis Olimb
Philippe Paradis
Brandon Pirri
Jack Skille
Ben Smith
Jeff Taffe

Salary CapNow, I've been reading that Cristobel Huet is not quite off the books for the Blackhawks yet, but the team is definitely trying to off-load the massive cap hit.  There was talk that there was already a European deal in place, but he will have to clear waivers, so there is a small chance he could land another NHL job.  Assuming Huet's cap hit is officially off the books soon, the Blackhawks Summer roster stands at 19 players for a cap hit of $56.5 million, which is safely below the cap ceiling.  Some more clever math during the year may be needed to ensure that it stays that way, especially when the roster rounds out.

You can't tell me that the Blackhawks, despite their face lift, won't be popular in the draft this year.  The Cup champs will generally get a nice buzz going in and I fully expect Patrick Kane to go in the first round, even if he's the only one.  Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith will all be high picks, some much higher than others.  With the right amount of teams, I can easily see Keith go in the second round... he'll be a very valuable asset.

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