Blackhawks

Time for Blackhawks to make some noise in free agency

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Time for Blackhawks to make some noise in free agency

As the first week of free agency draws to a close, the Chicago Blackhawks went into the weekend much as they began this period: quietly.

The Zach PariseRyan Suter blockbuster was finally completed on July 4, with the Blackhawks coming up empty on their attempt to land, at least, Parise. It was worth a shot, certainly, but the Blackhawks need to address needs like defense, center and perhaps even goaltending still exists.

General manager Stan Bowman talked with the media on Wednesday night, but wouldnt say whether hed go through free agency or trades to find what the Blackhawks need.

I dont want to handicap it. Its possible we could pursue players. But one thing Ive tried to convey is weve got a really good nucleus of our team here, he said. Unlike some teams who have had players who left or (teams that have) holes in the roster, were not in that position. Weve got a full roster and were confident with our group right now.

The only mention of Blackhawks today was by Roberto Luongo on the Jeff ONeil Show, when he said he kinda wouldnt mindmaybe would consider playing for the Blackhawks. Heres what he said about potentially playing for them:

There are a lot of cities that are great to play in and Chicagos definitely one of them. But you have to realize it works both ways, said Luongo, who has nine years remaining on the 12-year, 64 million deal he signed in 2009. Its not only me involved. It would also be a question if the hawks would be interested in me and if (Vancouver) would be interested in trading me and if Id be willing to go there.

Meanwhile, heres what he told ONeil about playing for the Florida Panthers again:

Floridas definitely one of the spots Id be willing to go to, said Luongo, who lives there in the offseason and added that a trade there makes sense.

Yes, it seems very likely Luongos wearing a red jersey next season. But its very unlikely the one in Chicago.

So back to the Blackhawks and their quiet week. Bowman acknowledged that one thing hes learned though this whole process is that drafting and developing players, and building a team that way, is better in the long run. Any doubters, please see the Detroit Red Wings.

There are a lot of free agents and you have to overpay to get them; it drives home the significance of drafting well and developing well. Thats been our strength, Bowman said. The last two (summers) weve drafted very well. This one is no different. We intend to bring these players to the Blackhawks in short order. Thats whats become apparent to me. If youre trying to build a team through the July free-agent market, thats tough to do. Were trying to add a piece or two, as opposed to ones desperately trying to get their team going.

No, the Blackhawks arent in desperate mode. But they are in determined mode; determined not to have another first-round exit. And if they want to avoid that, theyll have to make some noise eventually.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.