Marian Hossa

Cody Franson’s wait pays off as he gets his deal with Blackhawks

Cody Franson’s wait pays off as he gets his deal with Blackhawks

Once again, Cody Franson had to wait to find out his fate with a team. Once again, it had a happy ending.

Franson signed a one-year deal worth a reported $1 million on Wednesday. The 30-year-old defenseman gives the Blackhawks a steady presence and a much-needed, right-handed shot on the blue line.

When the Blackhawks signed Franson to a player tryout prior to training camp, it was expected he’d sign a deal once Marian Hossa’s placement on long-term injured reserve freed up the necessary cap space. Still, Franson wasn’t assuming anything.

“As far as having a good idea [of it happening], when you don’t have a contract there’s no real time to have a good idea,” Franson said with a laugh. “But I thought my exhibition games went well, practices have been going well. I thought I’ve been doing what I could to give myself this opportunity and luckily it played out.”

Franson talked earlier in camp about having to be patient with potential contracts. In this case he had no choice, as the Blackhawks had to wait for the NHL to rule on Hossa. If Wednesday’s practice was any indication, Franson will pair with Jordan Oesterle in the Blackhawks’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. Coach Joel Quenneville said Franson has brought what the Blackhawks were looking for from the start of camp.

“He showed us a lot,” Quenneville said. “I like his poise out there, got a good stick and shoots the puck extremely well. I like his size and his leadership qualities. He’s been a good fit with that experience and he’s excited about being here and it’s a great opportunity for us as well.”

Franson has fit into the Blackhawks’ room well. It helps that he already knew a few of the players — he and Jonathan Toews played together at World Juniors and he lives in the same area as Brent Seabrook and Jordin Tootoo in the offseason. As far as the Blackhawks’ system, he adjusted easily to that as well.

“That’s one of the things about having an experienced group and guys like this and guys that have been around for so long and have had so much success is. It’s kind of a system without even needing explaining. If you do have questions, you can ask guys because they’ve done it so much that they’re like having coaches,” he said. “It’s been a smooth transition for myself. It’s been easy to pick up and I’m excited to get going.”

Franson had to wait again for a contract, and there was ultimately no guarantee it would happen. But the odds were in his favor and thanks to a strong camp, the wait is over.

“It definitely allows you to take a bit of a deeper breath,” he said. “It’s nice to have that done, out of the way with, and be able to just focus on the regular season and getting off on the right foot here.”

Big leap from OHL to NHL no big deal to Alex DeBrincat

Big leap from OHL to NHL no big deal to Alex DeBrincat

When Alex DeBrincat first came to Blackhawks training camp he was eyed with some caution. Sure, he had been a great and productive player in the Ontario Hockey League but this was the NHL. This was a big leap. This was a transition that would require DeBrincat to spend some seasoning time in the AHL at the start of the season.

The only Rockford assignment DeBrincat will be taking right now will be for paperwork purposes.

The 19-year-old was strong from the start of training camp and he’s expected to be in the Blackhawks’ starting lineup when they face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. The Blackhawks assigned DeBrincat to Rockford on Tuesday but that’s just a cap-compliant formality. Coach Joel Quenneville confirmed that the Blackhawks can place Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve, and they’ll do that on Wednesday. Once that’s done the Blackhawks will free up cap space, allowing them to recall DeBrincat (and Gustav Forsling, who was also assigned on Tuesday).

So DeBrincat has made it. And he’s earned it.

“Getting up here against better players, he just seems to have that knack of knowing where the puck is and he does some great things in tight areas against better players and doesn’t change. Having that ability shows the upside is real there at this level,” Quenneville said following Tuesday’s practice. “He immediately showed he could handle playing against good players and playing with good players.”

DeBrincat has said that he credits one last season in the OHL with the Erie Otters was very beneficial to him. He played a lot of hockey, which was a good prep for the 82-game grind of an NHL season and he worked on his two-way game, improving his defense. DeBrincat knew what the Blackhawks wanted from him, and he’s gotten there.

“I think just in this past year since I’ve been drafted, all the staff has really helped me develop my game and got me to this point to play here. They wanted me here just as bad as I wanted to be here,” he said. “I know I’ve said that before but I really mean it, and they’ve really helped me with my development.”

If Tuesday’s practice was any indication DeBrincat will start Thursday’s game on the third line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Sharp. But he’s moved around plenty already this preseason. He also played some with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane on the second line and a preseason game with top liners Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik. Good thing DeBrincat is familiar with frequent changes.

“There was a good amount,” DeBrincat said of his Erie days. “Coach [Kris Knoblauch] liked to try new things; if something wasn’t going right, he’d change it. I’m pretty used to the line changes.”

DeBrincat admitted there was a little nervousness the past two weeks. If he didn’t make the team right out of the gate it wasn’t the end of the world but this was nevertheless the goal. He talked often with former Otters teammate Dylan Strome, who made the Arizona Coyotes roster on Tuesday.

“We’re going through the same thing and we talk a lot,” DeBrincat said. “It’s cool to go through it with someone else and take the same kind of road.”

DeBrincat’s parents will be at the United Center on Thursday when he makes his NHL debut. There’ll be ups and downs – every player goes through them regardless of experience – but this was DeBrincat’s goal and he’s made the jump from the OHL to the NHL look easy.

How Blackhawks will become cap compliant, maximize salary space after Marian Hossa ruled eligible for long-term IR

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USA TODAY

How Blackhawks will become cap compliant, maximize salary space after Marian Hossa ruled eligible for long-term IR

The National Hockey League has made its decision on Marian Hossa, ruling him eligible to be placed on long-term injured reserve once the regular season begins.

It was announced in June that Hossa will miss the 2017-18 season due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman made it clear over the summer that his plan was to utilize LTIR in the regular season rather than offseason, if granted, to give the team cap flexibility during the season, so there are no surprises there. The league simply made it official.

Here's where it gets tricky financially.

Our friends at CapFriendly.com laid out the Blackhawks' expected plan as to how they'll become cap compliant then maximize their cap space throughout the course of the year:

Essentially, the Blackhawks will be allowed to exceed the $75 million salary cap ceiling by as much as Rozsival's $650,000 cap hit then utilize Hossa's $5.275 million cap hit throughout the season.

It will (hopefully) become clearer after the first day of the season when the actual roster is set, the Opening Day call-ups are made and the dust settles.