Blackhawks

Brouwer didn't want to hit friends - except Kane

550970.jpg

Brouwer didn't want to hit friends - except Kane

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011Posted: 8:19 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Troy Brouwer expected mixed emotions for this game.

The Washington Capitals winger was facing his former Chicago Blackhawks teammates for the first time since he was traded this offseason, and facing them, potentially hitting them, was going to feel strange.

Well, except for maybe Patrick Kane.

"I've had to fight a couple times because of that little bugger. Maybe I'll give him a little payback," joked Brouwer, who had an assist against his old team in the Capitals' 4-1 victory. "I don't want to hit him and end up in the hospital with another shoulder surgery."

All kidding aside, Brouwer is excited about his new opportunity but still keeping memories and friendships from the opposing locker room close. Brouwer spent his entire young career in the Blackhawks organization and was a strong part of their Cup run, especially in the postseason.

But Brouwer struggled to find consistency last season. He also wasn't a factor in the playoffs, when he went point-less in seven games against the Vancouver Canucks. On the first day of the 2011 NHL Draft, Brouwer was sent to the Capitals for a first-round draft pick.

"I hadn't had one conversation with the Blackhawks before I got traded, so I knew something was coming," he said. "My agent had prepared me that some news might be coming soon. I had hoped there'd be talks to see where both sides were but nothing like that. I was just waiting on where I would go, rather if."

Brouwer also had to get healthy again after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder back in May -- "it was pretty ugly," Brouwer said of the shoulder.

It took him four months to get back from that surgery, which he didn't have during the summer of 2010 because there wasn't enough time. So he played last season with the injury, which wasn't helped when he flew into the Montreal boards on a missed check last April.

Now Brouwer is trying to find his niche with the Capitals. He played in his third preseason game on Sunday, all of which have been on Alex Ovechkin's line. After getting past the early intimidation of playing with the superstar, Brouwer has settled in.

Brouwer is getting used to a lot of new. Sunday was a sentimental day, but it's part of the business.

"It's just playing against the old colors," Brouwer said. "It's difficult the first couple of shifts out there, not wanting to hit your friends. But I do have to move on."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

What Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan trades mean for future of Blackhawks defense

What Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan trades mean for future of Blackhawks defense

After finishing 30th in goals against average (3.55) and 31st in penalty kill percentage (72.7) this past season, the Blackhawks are clearly making it a priority to patch up their defense this summer. And that's been evident with the acquisitions of defensive-minded defensemen Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta.

But it raises some interesting questions about the future of the Blackhawks blue line.

With the de Haan and Maatta additions, the Blackhawks now have five defensemen under contract through at least the 2021-22 season: Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million cap hit), Duncan Keith ($5.538 million), de Haan ($4.55 million), Maatta ($4.083 million) and Connor Murphy ($3.85 million). That's $24.8 million tied up to five guys.

The money isn't the primary concern, though. It's the limited amount of roster spots available. The Blackhawks don't have to immediately figure out how it's going to work a year from now and beyond, but it makes you wonder how the cards may eventually be shuffled.

Let's run through the situations:

— Erik Gustafsson had a breakout season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He's obviously not part of the five current players under contract after next season, putting the Blackhawks in a spot where they have to consider trading him or be comfortable with letting him walk for nothing if he isn't re-signed. (They could always trade his negotiating rights after next season and pull off a sign-and-trade as well, if it came to that).

And even if Gustafsson is re-signed, the Blackhawks would then have six players locked up for the 2020-21 season and on, and that's enough to submit a lineup.

— Henri Jokiharju, who was drafted No. 29 overall in 2017, is probably ready to take the next step and become an everyday player. Where does he fit into the long-term plans?

— Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018, likely needs one more year in the OHL before making the jump to the NHL, which would put him on a timeline to become part of the Blackhawks next season. Does he occupy that sixth spot if another one isn't opened by then?

— Nicolas Beaudin, who was drafted No. 27 overall in 2018, is expected to start the upcoming season in Rockford after four years in the QMJHL but might be NHL-ready by the 2020-21 campaign.

— And then there's Ian Mitchell, who's returning to Denver for his junior season and will serve as the team's captain. He's said all along that he intends to sign with the Blackhawks once he's finished with college, but does the organization value him enough to create a spot for him when he's ready?

To make things a little more complicated, the Seattle expansion draft is set to occur in 2021 and the same rules will apply as Vegas in 2017.

The Blackhawks have the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters and one goaltender. All players with no-movement clauses at the time of the expansion draft (and who decline to waive them) must be protected; Keith and Seabrook have a NMC. And all first- and second-year pros are exempt; Jokiharju would have to be protected.

As of this moment, the Blackhawks are likely to use the eight-skater option, but they will also have valuable forwards to protect. They're going to lose a good player one way or another, and it's probably going to come from the defensive group. All of this comes into play when weighing roster decisions for next season and beyond.

As stated above, the Blackhawks do not have to make an immediate decision on the future of their blue line corps. They can play out the 2019-20 season with the group as currently constructed. But the decisions the Blackhawks have to face next season could impact how Stan Bowman operates the rest of this summer and throughout the upcoming campaign.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

WATCH: Blackhawks draft pick Kirby Dach throws out the first pitch at Wrigley in his first trip to Chicago

WATCH: Blackhawks draft pick Kirby Dach throws out the first pitch at Wrigley in his first trip to Chicago

Kirby Dach was taken by the Blackhawks with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft on Friday.

On Monday, the Blackhawks introduced him to the city of Chicago. Dach took his first trip to Chicago for his introductory press conference.

Later in the day, the Canadian threw out the first pitch at the Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Dach didn't throw a strike, but it wasn't a blooper reel pitch either.

Watch Dach's first pitch in the video above.

 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.