Cubs

Blackhawks breakdown: Sami Lepisto

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Blackhawks breakdown: Sami Lepisto

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Sami Lepisto, 27, only played in 26 games and averaged just 10 minutes and 34 seconds per contest. He scored one goal, had two assists and finished plus-3. He delivered 24 hits and blocked nine shots. Lepisto played in three of the six playoff games vs. Phoenix, failing to record a single point and finishing minus-3.

Boden's take: The day the Blackhawks Convention opened last summer, the team severed its relationship with free agent Chris Campoli and signed Sami Lepisto. The thinking was the Hawks needed more puck-movement from the blueline with the departure of Brian Campbell. That never panned out. Lepisto was stuck in the sixth-defenseman numbers game, trying to rotate in playing time with Sean O'Donnell, Dylan Olsen, John Scott and later by the acquisition of Johnny Oduya rearranging the pecking order. Then he missed 13 of the last 14 regular season games with a leg injury.
Myers' take: The Blackhawks signed Lepisto right as they opened their convention last summer, and it was a sign of two things: No. 1, Campoli wasnt coming back and No. 2, the Blackhawks wanted more depth at defenseman. But whether he didnt fit into the system or coach Joel Quenneville preferred to play others, Lepisto didnt make much of an impact. He played in just 26 games; and just as he was finding a niche in the lineup in early March he suffered a leg injury against the St. Louis Blues. Lepisto did come back from that, but played in just four more games.
2012-13 Expectations

Chris: Lepisto will only be 28 on Oct. 17 and has played just three full seasons in the NHL, so you'd think he'd be entering his prime. He probably thinks that way too, and will try to find a new home on the UFA market where he can at least be in the lineup every night. He was a good soldier and didn't rock the boat with all the healthy scratches, but this doesn't seem to be the place where he'll get his opportunity.

Tracey: Lepisto signed a one-year deal when he came here, and itll be a surprise if hes back here. The Blackhawks will probably look elsewhere for defensive depth this coming season.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Lepisto above.

Previously: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Steve Montador, Sean O'Donnell, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp, Daniel Carcillo, Andrew Brunette, Marcus Kruger, Brendan Morrison, Jonathan Toews
Up next: Jamal Mayers

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull, Patrick Mooney and Tony Andracki close the book on the 2017 season following Theo Epstein’s press conference, looking back at what will go down as the craziest calendar year in Cubs history from last November through the team’s loss in the NLCS this October.

Moving forward, where do guys like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Justin Wilson and Mike Montgomery fit? Will the Cubs re-sign Wade Davis or go after another proven closer? And how worried should fans be about the offense that completely disappeared in the postseason?

Take a listen below:

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.