White Sox

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

SportsTalk Live is at the United Center for Blackhawks Authentic Fan Night. David Haugh, Charlie Roumeliotis and Scott King join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The Blackhawks look to get back in the win column with the Lightning in town.

5:00 - Chuck Garfien joins Kap to talk about Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox. How much will this help the Sox sign more free agents? Plus the panel discusses how much this improves Willson Contreras' trade value as the Cubs reportedly shop him.

17:00 - Chase Daniel said Mitch Trubisky looked great in practice. Will that translate to the game on Sunday?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

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ADAM MILLER

Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

Illinois and head coach Brad Underwood landed their most important recruiting target for the second time in three seasons on Thursday night.

Morgan Park senior guard Adam Miller became the latest Mustang guard to commit to the Illini and Underwood when the preseason co-favorite for Player of the Year announced his decision during a public press conference at the Jordan Brand store on State Street.

A consensus top-40 national prospect in the Class of 2020, Miller's commitment to Illinois gives the program another highly-regarded in-state prospect. Just two years earlier, at the very same Jordan store and under very similar circumstances, Morgan Park guard Ayo Dosunmu announced his college decision to go to Illinois -- a commitment that changed local recruiting momentum at Illinois during Underwood's first full season.  

Although Miller's commitment shares similarities to Dosunmu's, Miller's pledge is also slightly different from his former high school teammate. Any program can win one major recruiting war over the big boys. By doing it twice in three years, it's a major signal that Underwood and Illinois are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to local recruiting. Landing Miller's commitment in a hotly-contested race over his other finalists of Arizona and Louisville, Miller's announcement on Thursday signifies that Illinois and Underwood are ready annually to compete with national powerhouse programs when it comes to keeping local talent at home.

While former Illinois coaches like Bruce Weber and John Groce failed to consistently keep, and develop, top in-state talents late in their tenures, Miller's commitment is a significant indication that Underwood and his staff are making positive recruiting inroads at home that could continue to last.

The term "pipeline" has become cliche in the recruiting world. But it certainly can't hurt Illinois to be continually involved with Morgan Park's best players. The Mustangs continue to churn out Division I prospects every single season. And Morgan Park has another high-major junior -- guard Brandon Weston -- waiting in the wings that Illinois is already recruiting. 

Illinois will certainly need to spread its recruiting efforts more throughout the Chicagoland area to maintain recruiting stability of top in-state talents. Grabbing a top-50 player in two out of three classes -- particularly in a basketball-crazy hotbed like Chicago -- is significant.

During his junior season, Miller took the city by storm as he was the state's most dominant scorer. The lefty averaged 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game -- putting up multiple 40-point games and looking virtually unstoppable during certain stretches of play. Even as opposing defenses threw exotic zones and double-teams his way, it didn't do much to slow Miller down. 

Miller already faced a tough set of local expectations entering the 2019-20 season. Morgan Park returns a loaded, nationally-ranked team. There's a baseline expectation for Miller to replicate his stellar junior season. Those local expectations now become enormous since Miller is staying home and going to Illinois. 

Now that Miller's commitment is under his belt, he can focus on pushing Morgan Park to a potential city and state title as the preseason's No. 1 team in the area. Illinois can focus its recruiting efforts on getting additional reinforcements for Miller and his fellow 2020 recruits. And by the time Miller reaches Champaign next season, Illinois is optimistic that they'll be a consistent NCAA tournament presence once again.