Preps Talk

Wideman would fit perfectly on Blackhawks

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Wideman would fit perfectly on Blackhawks

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman wasn't tipping his hand for future roster plans last week as his team cleared out their lockers following their first round loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. But Tab Bamford makes perfect sense at ChicagoNow.com when suggesting who should be at the top of his free agent shopping list: defenseman Dennis Wideman.

Wideman, 29, was an All-Star this season for the Washington Capitals. He scored 11 goals and assisted on 35 others, finishing minus-8. He also dished out 113 hits and blocked 132 shots in 82 games. As Bamford noted, the reason his addition makes so much sense goes well beyond the numbers, however.

For starters, Wideman isn't afraid to get physical. Out of 203 players in the NHL credited with more than 100 hits in 2011-12, the Hawks only had three, led by Brent Seabrook's 198. Wideman would have been third on the team behind only Seabrook and Bryan Bickell.

Possibly the most important element is Wideman brings a heavy slapshot and good offensive game that can boost the power play. He had 20 power play points this season and averaged over three minutes per game with the man-advantage. He also averaged almost two minutes per game on the penalty kill.

While it's a small bonus, Wideman shoots righty. On the current roster, only Seabrook and Steve Montador do so among Chicago defensemen. Adding a righthanded-shooting blueliner would help balance each pairing so that one defenseman isn't regularly playing on his off hand.

Wideman earned 3.97 million in 2011-12 and would likely be looking for a bit of a raise. If the Blackhawks cut ties with each of their free agents -- Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers, Brendan Morrison, Brandon Bollig, Johnny Oduya, Sean O'Donnell and Sami Lepisto -- they will have 6.84 million to spend.

Would you be in favor of adding Wideman? Tell us why or why not by commenting below.

76 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

76 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Eisenhower

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant coaches: Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, ST Coordinator Billy Viero, assistant Darren Bryant, assistant Charles Edwards, assistant Jesse Gonzalez, assistant Ryan Gorney, assistant Will Johnson, assistant Marty McNamara, assistant Tim McNamara, assistant Anthony Munoz, assistant TJ Murphy,  assistant Jeremy Rodrigues, assistant Dan Russell, assistant Terrence Streater and assistant Ron Zychowski

How they fared in 2018: 4-5 (2-4 South Suburban Red Conference). Eisenhower failed to qualify for the IHSA football playoff field. 

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Oak Forest

Sept. 6 vs St. Laurence

Sept. 13 vs Argo

Sept. 20 @ Reavis

Sept. 27 vs Shepard

Oct. 4 @ T.F. North

Oct. 11 @ Evergreen Park

Oct. 18 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 25 vs Richards

Biggest storyline: It centers on new head coach Sheamus Murphy. Can he get the Cardinals back on the winning track?

Names to watch this season: QB Daniel McLaurin (Sr.), RB/LB Cristian Tellez (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Cardinals will need to replace 15 graduated starter from last season. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Cardinals’ now-former head coach Travis Moore decided to head to the college level. He became the defensive line coach at NIU. New head coach Sheamus Murphy, who built the Back of the Yards program from scratch, takes over and brings a ton of energy and excitement to the Island starting in 2019.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

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