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»
No one doubts how well the almost six foot Duncan Keith his skating. He gets going quick and out- distances the guys around him. At Penticton Jr A he had a hefty 64 assists to go with his 18 goals, so he certainly displays skill, touch and instinct to carry the biscuit, jump into the plays from the defensemen position.
The question is would he actually be able to make it as an NHL defensemen at his size and strength. He doesn’t project to grow past six foot.
Could general manager Mike Smith have drafted him with the idea of him converting to a wing?
That might be very possible, for he certainly has pure speed and agility to create as an winger. He has not yet adjusted to the less free wheeling style of collegiate and has trouble with handling traffic as a college defensemen.
Sometimes players are chosen for their character, skills, and determination, and can be projected to another position as possible pros.
I wonder if that is what Hawk general manager Mike Smith had in mind by making him the Hawk second round pick.
I realize that the undersized defenseman has chiseled a place in the new NHL transition game and that this young man has the tools to be a Ballard/Bouwmeester type offensively creative player. I also understand you cannot teach speed, and Keith has an abundance of it. I just don’t know if he can make it on the backline. Steve McCarthy is an early defensemen pick we are already waiting to see handle the big men in the NHL. Can the Blackhawk defense have room for two? Or was he picked to play elsewhere Read more»
This Saturday and Sunday’s NHL entry draft allows all us non professionals to speculate on who are hometown teams will scoop up this weekend. Out of the locking gun cabinet, I will take out a shotgun and will try to shoot a couple NHL prospects out of the large barrel know as the amateur world hockey community.
Probably the toughest part about the NHL draft is simply trying to figure out exactly where my team will draft. The press secretary and assistants yearly tell me they will not have the final list prior to draft morning, so I have to scour the old deals, additional picks and try and piece the close to exact place the Blackhawks will draft BEFORE G.M. Mike Smith trades up or down out of them during the event. This year was a little easier, as Dan Flodin lead me to the NHL official list surprisingly out a couple days prior to this year’s event.
Barring the possibility of trades (although the hopes of a Philly like climb would be candy to any a Hawk fans mouth), I would like to predict a player at each of the present Blackhawk estimated picking positions, 21,54,86,156,188,219,251,282.
Although I want a forward at #21, I think the Blackhawks will reach and go defense, if the right defenseman is there. Not having the luxury of a chance at the four defenseman(Bouwmeester,Pitkanen,Whitney,Eminger),the Hawks will hope that Babchuk, Grebeshkov,or Vagner fall in their laps. If they are gone,along with forwards Jakub Koreis, and Daniel Paille, the Blackhawks select a winger at #21.
At #54, kneecapped Swedish defensemen Daniel Fernholn wo Read more»