Wednesday, January 9, 2013

We're Getting the Band Back Together

The end of the lockout is a double edged sword for those of us that write these amateur rags, especially the ones that write game recaps, like The Committed Indian and Hockee Night. We have all had plenty of time to get reacquainted with our families and friends, just to have us cast away into the dungeons of Blog-o-spheres. Not to be confused with BLAGO-SPHERE. I'm not going to lie, this abbreviated season is going to wear on us all. Those of us that are used to recapping 2-3 games a week are going to be on the hook for 3-4 games a week. I know, just be happy it's back, and I truly am.

Moving onward, with the looming CBA ratification we have so much to smash into 10 days. First you have the re-opening of free agency, very brief training camps, and then game one on what looks like the 19th or 20th. Nothing like hitting the ground running.

The Blackhawks have 49 players under contract, so the chances they will sign anyone else is virtually nil, but there will be RFA, and UFA signings across the league. On the RFA front, PK Subban, Mike Del Zotto and Jamie Benn are the three biggest unsigned names, and those teams best be busting their hump to get those players in and signed.

On the other hand, in the UFA pool the most curious name might be former Blackhawk for a minute, Chris Campoli. Campoli was a major thorn in the side of the owners during this entire CMA negotiation, all while not having an NHL contract. Will the Owners hold a grudge?

Luckily, not much of that has anything to do with the Hawks, but what does concern them is the roster of this 2013 team. This is how the team shapes up:

Jonathan Toews
Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp
Marian Hossa
Michael Frolik
David Bolland
Marcus Kruger
Viktor Stalberg
Jimmy Hayes
Dan Carcillo
Jamal Mayers
Brandon Bollig
Andrew Shaw
Bryan Bickell

Duncan Keith
Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson
Steve Montador
Johnny Oduya
Michal Rozsival
Nick Leddy
Sheldon Brookbank

Corey Crawford
Ray Emery

That is what is referred to as a full boat. As of this morning, Hayes and Leddy have yet to report, but it's assumed that they will. This list isn't even including Brandon Saad or Jeremy Morin, either.

The big question will be: Who fills the #2 Center spot? I am maintaining that Patrick Sharp should be the only option, if Kruger can't hold the position, and I'm going to say Kruger won't hold that position. Even though Kaner did alright with the transition, he struggled to put up the points that he's accustomed to. Get him back on his wing, where he feels most confortable.

Otherwise, it looks like you will see a top six of Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp, Stalberg, and maybe Kruger. Third line could skate Frolik, Bolland, and Bickell, with the rest of the slugs (Carcillo, Shaw, Bollig, Mayers and possibly Hayes) battling for the last 3 spots. If Hayes is brought back, him and Kruger could be shuffled anywhere up and down the lineup.

On Defense, the Blackhawks look pretty solid on paper, and there is quite a bit of paper between these gentlemen. The simple fact is that one has to go, unless they plan on letting the mouth breathing golden child skate his minutes in Rockford. I just can't see the team scratching two defensemen every night. The most logical player to be cast away is Hjalmarsson, but that is not happening in the next 10 day. If they are kosher with over 3 million dollars a night wearing their Sunday best in the press box, then so be it. I could be wrong, but I remember the Blackhawks crying poor for the last 110 plus days.

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