The second meeting with the Dallas Stars and third preseason exhibition started with the non rostered players now seeing there is a new opening at forward with the Daze injury (Out a minimum of six weeks) and many took advantage of it in the Blackhawk 2-0 victory.
Of the marquee prospects, only Mikhail Yakubov didn’t come with a strong overall game at centre. Certainly his inexperience at the position was apparent although the over all talent is present in this big forward who might have helped management agree that Norfolk will help him get ready to be a NHL prime time player.
Mike Leighton had two very good periods only marred by goals scored on three successive penalties and two man advantages. He looks like a prime candidate as an NHL starter after a year of AHL seasoning and a back up role. He is big, cool under fire, and a leader on the ice. Experience seems to be what he still needs to acquire.
Can one of the trio of Huskins (not suited), Dempsey, or McCarthy usurp utility defenseman Steve Poast, a Sutter type player who ended strong last year when the rest of the defense petered?
Defenseman Nathan Dempsey played on the penalty kill and assisted on a pair of power-play goals by Kyle Calder, as he heightened the competition for the last defensemen slot. Steve Poapst and Steve McCarthy also played well but neither was on the penalty kill. Lyle Odelin used every opportunity to dish across to the left point so McCarthy could let them go but none found the inside of the net.
The big question to prospect watchers is who wil Read more»
Kent Huskins returned to the ice versus the Dallas Stars for his second consecutive game and again play very well both defensively and getting the puck to the forwards. He sent a long perfect pass springing Steve Thomas on one attempt and did nothing to hurt his attempts at finding a place for himself on the parent club.
This was the first game played by third year pro prospect Steve McCarthy, Igor Radulov, and newcomer left wing Travis Moen.
McCarthy played to his strengths carrying and passing the biscuit, but really didn’t excel in those strengths. Although he did not embarrass himself in the defensive zone, he didn’t challenge attackers or neutralize well and his passing wasn’t at its best and in general didn’t have a very good game. Besides, he wasn’t a factor on the score sheets, so you have to wonder if a continuation of his career in the AHL can be of any benefit to improvement in his game.
Chicago media are trying to make his two way contract (with a hefty NHL side) the reason why he would be sent down. I refuse to believe that NHL teams don’t man the parent club with their best players despite contract size. He will always be a smaller defenseman who will rely on using angles and his skating abilities to take out attackers. His strengths must come from his handling the puck. He has bulked up and gained muscle. The bottom line is all the parts must come together while on the ice to make a team.
The Blackhawks must decide if his offensive abilities fit with a defense that already carries defensive liability offenseman Phil Hous Read more»
Brian Sutter chose many new faces the reward of playing in this game. Forwards included in the lineup were last season call-up Tyler Arnason in a new role as a left winger, prime prospect Mikhail Yakubov, Brett McLean, Brandin Cote, and journeymen Shawn Thornton and Louis DeBrusk. On defense, the hometown fans were treated to a generous dose of Kent Huskins and Nathan Dempsey.
All played well.
Yakubov saw action early feeding Serge Berezin a neat drop pass, and showed signs of NHL finesse, moving effortlessly, and displaying NHL passing and a nice hard shot.
At this point it is difficult to compare his style, but it is clear he has more to learn but hard to not be excited by his future potential. He knows where to set up and wants the puck. His size only acts as another reason to try and rush him to the parent club early. He is not the dominant face-off center the Hawks are looking for to improve the team, but certainly has lots of offensive zone moxy that every team desires.
Centre Brandin Cote flew around and showed he had an offensive game. Despite his play, he looked like a guy destined for the farm.
Centre Brent McLean had many eyes centered on his play in the game. An above average face-off man in the AHL, the Hawks wanted to see what he could do in the dots and on the penalty kill. He certainly didn’t disappoint the fans, as he played hard, won face-offs and assisted on the short handed goal and scored the game winner.
McLean just doesn’t fit the role as a rough and tumble utility guy on Read more»
Tuomo Ruutu was here visiting the USA but not for pleasure, it was strictly business.
During the week of August 3rd through the 10th he played on the Finnish entry of the 2002 Hockey Summer Challenge (U20) in Lake Placid. Three teams participated, a USA White team, a USA Blue team and the veteran Finnish team.
The 2002 USA Hockey Summer Challenge is the tourney that marks the culmination of the U.S. National Evaluation camp that brought 45 American hockey players together to show their abilities and audition for spots on 2003 U.S.National team.
The tourney seats were loaded with scouts from every NHL team.
What they witnessed was Ruutu, bullying his way through the opposition, controling play, leading the offense and disrupting the offensive plays of the other team. Nasty aggressive hockey bullying is no new style for Ruutu, whose heart is similar to the players we all make our fan favorites because of the way they juice up the games.
In the Ides of July, Blackhawk G.M. Mike Smith tried to negotiate a North American contract, but Tuomo Ruutu’s agent asked for a signing bonus besides the highest salary attainable under the NHL rookies salary cap.
This bonus became the bone of contention that to this day, are separating the two sides. Smith flat out says he doesn’t do that! Never has,never will. And Ruutu’s agent started his asking for a $3 Million signing bonus based on individual performance.
Based on his performance in this tourney and his previous performances, there wasn’t a NHL G.M. who wouldn’t add a $1 Million bonus to g Read more»
The all nine players selected by the Chicago Blackhawks have one common ingredient: character. In a draft labeled as one with few players whose abilities have developed enough to project big league success, the Blackhawks scouting staff may not have come through with a gaggle of gems but have come up with team players who shine like gems.
There is no denying the fact that at this juncture, the ownership may care little if they fill their building. They do care about holding the line on salaries and the draft is an essential element in doing just that. If you draft potential NHLers, you bring them in at a lower rate than acquiring established players.
So as a salary cap looms, the Hawks have tried to ferret out as many guys that will put team over all else.
At this point, no one can put a can’t miss or potential star tag on the vast majority of the talent taken after the first dozen, although everyone likes to project the drafted as the “next” as the draft is a way to sell your fans on the future.
The Blackhawk draft was no different. They went in with strategies (add defensemen, try and trade down when lots of their listed players were available as the picks approached) and hoped that the future would prove them correct.
Picking 21st overall, few of the Blackhawk picks were established stars with their teams, and only a few are names the casual amateur hockey fan would even know of.
With pick #21 the Hawks got what may amount to a huge Christmas gift in the form of Anton Babchuk. They wanted big players and Read more»