Key players from another Stanley Cup-winning season are gone. Some were traded due to cap issues. Some were not signed again for the same reason. And there are still changes to be made before the regular season begins.
It’s a lot like 2010. Or is it?
Yes, the Blackhawks’ purge seems similar, maybe not in terms of quantity lost but certainly in the quality players they’ve lost. But unlike 2010, when the Blackhawks entered training camp with plenty of unknowns, this year they have guys who know exactly what to do at the NHL level.
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The Blackhawks still have work to do – we’ll get to that later – but they like what they’ve gotten in return thus far. There will still be openings for Rockford IceHogs to claim but other voids will be filled with those with NHL experience. And that has coach Joel Quenneville optimistic entering the fall of 2015.
“When we lost back in 2010, I don’t think we knew what we were getting into,” he said as the Blackhawks convention opened on Friday evening. “We got a lot of players that came in, more so the draft pick type of player, future types of players that projected down the road. Here, we’ve got something we needed in return where guys can play on our team and play big roles. We can find out a little more on how that plays out as we go along.”
Trevor Daley, Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano and Ryan Garbutt are a few of the players acquired in the Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad trades. The experience is there for all of them; Dano’s the youngest at 20, but he had a solid rookie season and has plenty of potential. Anisimov could be the next second-line center; Patrick Kane is already anticipating the possibilities.
“He’s a big, smart, two-way forward and a left-handed shot. That’s the ideal center for someone like myself,” he said. “You see the size and he’s also got the skill, too. He could be a really dangerous fit on our team, so I’m looking forward to the chance of playing with him, if that’s the case. Hopefully we develop some chemistry as quickly as possible.”
Right after acquiring Daley, general manager Stan Bowman said the Blackhawks were looking to get players, “who can help us now.” As far as how they fit into the system, Bowman said Quenneville and company usually figure that out.
“They’ve done a great job of finding out what works, what doesn’t work,” Bowman said. “We have some new players in, so when you look at it from that perspective, you get excited what the possibilities may be for next year. Change is good. I think we’ve embraced that in the past and we’ve been able to bring in players who now are household names. It’ll be the same for some of the new guys. They’ll be new to the fans and media, but I think you’ll fall in love with some of these guys.”
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Change was bound to come during the summer of 2015, much like it did in the summer of 2010. This time around, however, the new faces are just new to the Blackhawks, not the NHL stage.
“We’ve added some different pieces and tried to replace as best we could,” Quenneville said. “Stan has done a great job in a tight market. That’s today’s game. [There are] certainly a little bit more NHL ready players than we’ve seen in the past. That can help us.”
— Bowman said he continues to talk to Marcus Kruger’s camp about a new contract. “We’re still trying to get everything worked out,” he said.
— The Blackhawks had approximately $750,000 worth of bonus overages last season, which will be deducted from this upcoming season’s cap. So as of today, according to generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks have about $231,500 of cap space.
— Last year, the Blackhawks didn’t trade Nick Leddy until the fall. Bowman said he’s comfortable waiting again, if necessary, to make moves this offseason. “I know it looks like it’s been a long time since July 1 but it’s only been a few weeks,” he said. “There will be some moves around the league between now and the opening of training camp as well as the opening of the season. We’ll look at ways to improve our team. We have a few things we’re contemplating and we’ll see which way we end up going.”