Blackhawks

No more excuses for Cutler, Lovie

825785.png

No more excuses for Cutler, Lovie

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. Jay Cutler has had a lot of excuses made for him even when he wasnt necessarily asking for them or making them for himself:

- He is on his (third? fourth? fifth? 23rd?) offensive coordinator in the past four yearsweekshours.

- He lacks good receivers.

- He lacks a good offensive line in front of him.

- He struggles in night games because of his diabetes.

His magic right arm got him a pass, literally and figuratively. The reasoning was that his talent was such that any problems couldnt be his fault.

Now he doesnt have any excuses, nor is he asking for them.

This is the most comfortable I think Ive been going into a camp with the offense and what were doing scheme-wise and the talent around me, Cutler declared as he arrived at his fourth Bears training camp (under his third different offensive coordinator, if anyone is counting).

Jeremy Bates, QB coach) has come in and installed some of the stuff I was comfortable with in Denver. Mike Tice has a good feel for what I like to do, how to put guys in position to be successful.

Im happy with it. Weve got some tweaking and stuff weve got to do so everyones on the right page but everything weve done in the offseason has put us in the right direction.

Cutler is in need of some right directions.

He has finished his last two seasons watching from the sidelines, with an NFC-Championship game knee injury in 2010, with a broken thumb in 2011.

Of Cutlers passer ratings over six NFL seasons, the two lowest (2009, 2011) have come in Chicago. That, too, is a must-reverse, along with a career-low completion percentage (58.0) last season.

Cutler, like coach Lovie Smith, is under contract through next season. Neither has the luxury of excuses anymore.

Its a win-now league. I think every year youre expected to win, win big, go to the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl. I dont think its anything new to this group.

Lovies seems to be one of those guys they say is on the hot seat every year. We like having Lovie around and were going to do our best to keep him around here.

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Noah Dobson

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 180 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A very effective two-way defenseman with good puck distribution and a strong shot from the points on the power play. He is a point-producer with size, who defends and utilizes strong positioning and a good stick in the defensive zone."

NHL player comparable: Brent Burns

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks lacked defensemen that generated offense last year. They also lacked defenders than can ... defend. Dobson is a player who can do both, and if he slips past Vancouver at No. 7, the Blackhawks may have a difficult decision on their hands.

Dobson could solve some of those defensive issues, but it likely wouldn't be in time for the 2018-19 season. He needs time to develop properly.

The Blackhawks like to evaluate prospects based on what their ceiling is and where they're at in their development curve, and if they see major upside here, they'll go for it. It just depends if there's somebody available that they like better.

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 189 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Kotkaniemi has been a top-six forward for his league team in Finland all season and had a very solid U18 season relative to his historical peers in the league. He has very good hands that are high-end, if not flashing elite. He can make very skilled plays off an entry, but what impresses me is how well he can control the puck and keep plays alive."

NHL player comparable:

Fit for Blackhawks:

There isn't a player that has climbed the rankings in such a short amount of time than Kotkaniemi, who was initially projected to go outside the top 10 but could go as high as No. 3 overall. It's likely because there aren't many high-end centers in this draft, and he's the top one.

If Kotkaniemi happens to slip to No. 8, it may be hard for the Blackhawks to pass up on him. He's versatile, too, which is always a bonus, especially when playing under Joel Quenneville. But if they view him as a center, here's how the Blackhawks would look down the middle: Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz, Kotkaniemi and Artem Anisimov.

Um, yeah. That'll work.