Blackhawks

Blackhawks offseason changes unlike ones in 2010

7-17-daley-anisimov-blackhawks.png

Blackhawks offseason changes unlike ones in 2010

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.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Bickell, Versteeg tuning out trade rumors]

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.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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.”

UPDATES

— 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.”

 

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

crawford_usa_today_debut.jpg
USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!