Exhibition #2 Displays More Future Hopefuls

By Bill Placzek

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 Housley, and many other 6 foot defenseman.

How many small defenseman can any NHL team carry? The logjam doesn’t favor McCarthy as a starter, so do you again ask him to take a minor league demotion or move one of your present veterans to finally give him on the job training? This underlying question only intensifies as Huskins shows prowess in each exhibition.

Igor Radulov shoots, shoot, shoots the puck. Playing with Peter White and at times with Steve Thomas, he is a much improved presence over the player that attended the preseason of 2001, who seemed to be “handled” by the opponents shift after shift. He showed skilled passing, and offensive smarts all night. He assisted on the Hawk goal where he was patient from behind net, waiting until Korolev was in position to shoot and score. It could be argued his was the best offensive player on the ice for the Hawks.

Travis Moen was a pleasant surprise. Nobody expected him to be a scorer,and by no means, did he look out a place as a “juice “player fore-checking, blocking shots, and playing better and better as the game went on.

Many of the Blackhawk loyal were extremely disappointed that past #1 picks Pavel Vorobiev and Tuomo Ruttuu were not signed and competing for jobs in this camp.

Their disappointment will not last long as the additions of Berezin and Fleury certainly improves the club from the one of last year.

The prospects in this camp may not display the jam that Ruttuu might have brought, but they will when eventually making the jump and add the much needed offensive skill that was absent in the teams in the last five years.