Chicago Blackhawks: Will they stay or will they go?

I know, I know a bad reference to a song, but which UFA’s and RFA’s will be back?

This is the biggest offseason in a while for the Chicago Blackhawks and they have money to spend in free agency but first they have to bring a few players back. Let’s starts off with the UFA’s.

UFA’s:

Marcus Kruger

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Marcus Kruger is known as penalty killer, faceoff master and a great defensive center. Last year, Kruger couldn’t find a role under Jeremy Colliton. He recorded four goals and eight assists in 74 games. Despite being a defensive forward, Kruger recorded his lowest Corsi for percentage (47.6) and a disastrous 35.2 xGF% (expected goals for percentage). If you want to learn more about advanced analytics I have an article on that. Not to mention he struggled at the faceoff dot (48.1%). Kruger had a down year by his standards and he is going to be turning 30 years old. I think that makes the Blackhawks decision easy and they don’t re-sign him.

Chris Kunitz

Chris Kunitz was brought in last year as a bottom six forward and as a mentor. While he was a great mentor to the younger guys (Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Henri Jokiharju and etc.) he wasn’t a very effective on the ice. He only recorded five goals and five assists in 56 games. In the season prior, Kunitz produced 13 goals and 16 assists in 82 games and was probably expected to put up similar numbers. With Kunitz turning 40 years old in a months I don’t see the Blackhawks re-signing him.

Cam Ward

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Cam Ward did his job last season. He was brought in to be a backup and to fill in for Corey Crawford if he got injured. In 29 games last season, Ward had a 16-12-4 record. He also had a .897 save percentage, 3.67 goals against average and a -14.68 goals saved above average. While those stats don’t look great the Blackhawks defense was bad last year. He kept them in games multiple times. He also helped Blackhawks goaltending prospect Collin Delia throughout the year. With, Ward, turning 35 years old this year and Collin Delia taking over the backup spot, I don’t see Ward coming back.

Andreas Martinsen

Andreas Martinsen is a forward who has something most ‘Hawks forwards don’t possess. Size and physicality. He is 6’3″ and 230 pounds. Martinsen was sixth on the Blackhawks in hits last year with 83 hits and only played in 24 games. He is a black hole offensively, only recording a goal and three assists this year. I could see Martinsen coming back for cheap because he provides that physicality that the Blackhawks lack.

RFA’s:

Victor Ejdsell

Victor Ejdsell is a 24 year old center/winger. He was supposed to be a part of the Blackhawks future but elected to return to Sweden after a disappointing 2018-2019 campaign with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He recorded 12 goals and 17 assists in 61 AHL games last year. By many, he was projected to be in the NHL this year. Ejdsell is expected be qualified in case he ever comes back.

Brendan Perlini

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Brendan Perlini is a 23 year old winger. According to Scott Powers of The Athletic the Blackhawks have already sent a qualifying offer to Perlini. Perlini is a former 12th overall pick from 2014. He’s inconsistent but when his scoring is on it is on. He has a great shot, decent offensive skill and good size at 6’3″. He struggles with his consistency, work ethic and speed. After scoring 12 goals for the Blackhawks I see him coming back.

John Quenneville

John Quenneville is also a 23 year old winger taken in the first round of the 2014 draft. He is also expected to receive a qualifying offer. And yes (John) Quenneville is a cousin to former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. Quenneville, has shown extreme offense skill and has produced in both the AHL and WHL, but has struggled to score at the NHL level. With Bowman, saying he is going to re-sign (John) Quenneville I fully expect him to come to Chicago.

David Kämpf

David Kämpf is a 24 year old Czech center. He posted 4 goals and 15 assists in 63 games with Chicago last year. Kämpf had 31 takeaways and six giveaways last year as well. He played a lot on the penalty kill and was a great two-way forward in the bottom six. He has arbitration rights, but I expect him to be back as Jeremy Colliton played him on the second line before.

Dylan Sikura

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The Canadian center, just turned 24 years old. He posted eight assists in 33 games. Despite, not being the offensive dynamo Dylan Sikura was expected to be, he has been an excellent two-way forward. In those 33 games, Sikura, posted a 54.55 xGF% and added 23 takeaways to seven giveaways. Sikura has gotten very unlucky and I expect him to be back.

Luke Johnson

The 24 year old American center put up an assist with the Blackhawks through 15 games last season. Luke Johnson is more of a defensive forward. He had 31 hits last season, but also posted an atrocious 35.71 xGF%. I do expect him to be back as he produced offensively in Rockford.

Anthony Louis

Anthony Louis is 24 year old American center. He is an Illinois native and is also listed at 5’7″. This past season he scored 12 goals and assisted on 22 more in 74 games. He was not tendered and isn’t expected to get an offer from the Blackhawks.

Spencer Watson

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The 23 year old Canadian winger didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Chicago Blackhawks. After a disappointing season in Rockford recording one goal and two assists in 10 games it isn’t surprising to see Spencer Watson not get a qualifying offer. I wouldn’t expect him to re-sign

Blake Hillman

Blake Hillman, a 23 year old American left-handed defenseman, spent his season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. While Hillman has been known as a defensive defenseman he struggled to put up points. He only scored one goal and had three assists in 54 AHL games. He didn’t get a qualifying offer and isn’t expected to return to Chicago.

stats from: Elite Prospects, Hockey-Reference, Natural Stattrick and Corsica

cap info from: CapFriendly

Feature Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and Hendrik Seis

NHL Draft: Which Top Prospects Have Fallen To Round Two?

After Day One, there were multiple reaches in the first round, so some prospects who were projected to go in the first round fell to the second round.

Multiple players rose, while others fell during day one. There were a lot of surprises like Moritz Seider taken at #6 by the Detroit Red Wings. Which paved the way for quite a few top prospects to fall.

Arthur Kaliyev

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Arthur Kaliyev was ranked by 16th here at Puck77 in our most recent draft rankings. He spent this past season with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He has an excellent shot as he recorded 51 goals. The biggest issue is that, Kaliyev, has been described as one dimensional.

His offensive upside is great, but there are issues in his game. One major issue is his lack of motivation on the defensive end. Too many times he’s seen lazily skating back into the defensive end. In addition, you can often find Kaliyev puck watching.

On top of that, Kaliyev’s skating is good, but far from great. His edge-work and agility are above average, but his top end speed needs work.

Raphaël Lavoie

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Raphaël Lavoie was ranked #20 at Puck77 for June. This past season, Lavoie played with the Halifax Mooseheads. Lavoie, has an exceptional shot. He scored 32 goals and assisted on 41 others. He is a natural power winger.

Lavoie, has great offensive abilities. His overall potential is somewhat questionable. Lavoie, has been criticized for his defense, but has turned it around the past few years. He is good at blocking shots and is a strong back checker.

For being 6’4″, Lavoie, is an excellent skater. He has a strong first step, good agility and is strong on his skaters.

Bobby Brink

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Bobby Brink was ranked 15th at Puck77 for June in our rankings. He spent this past season with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. But, he did also spend some time on the USNTDP squad alongside Jack Hughes (New Jersey Devils), Cole Caufield (Montréal Canadiens) and Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks). While he was with the Sioux City Musketeers, he led his team in goals with 35 and was second in assists with 33. Brink, is a smaller goal scoring winger.

Like both Lavoie and Kaliyev, Brink, is an excellent offensive forward. He’s a very well rounded player, but doesn’t excel at anything besides his shot. He is good in his own end and works hard. He does needs to bulk up though, but he has plenty of time to do that. Plus, he’ll be joining a top hockey program (the University of Denver) next season. Their program has produced quite a few outstanding NHLers including Will Butcher, Paul Stastny and others. He’ll be working with a great coaching staff and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to bulk up at the University of Denver facilities.

In terms of Brink’s skating ability, his top speed is decent as is his footwork and his agility. He needs to work on his core strength as well as his first step.

stats from – Elite Prospects

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Joe Pavelski, Anders Lee and Artemi Panarin

According to Sportsnet, the Chicago Blackhawks are in on three top six forwards. These forwards could help the Blackhawks in all types of ways.

The Chicago Blackhawks need help in their top six after trading away Dominik Kahun for Olli Määtta. They arguably have five top six forward in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad and Dylan Strome. They need at least one or two more guys to help bolster their top six, and Sportsnet has reported the Blackhawks have interest in three guys in particular.

Artemi Panarin

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Stan Bowman loves to bring the gang back together and there is no reason to believe that he won’t try to bring Panarin back. Panarin was brought over from Russia in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. He instantly found chemistry with (Patrick) Kane, scoring 61 goals and 90 assists for 151 points in 162 games.

But, following the disappointing 2017 playoffs, being swept by the wildcard Nashville Predators in round one, Panarin was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In hindsight that deal was one Stan Bowman wishes he could have back. The reason why Panarin was traded was for cap certainty and we can see that now as he is a pending free agent.

For those who don’t know, Panarin, is a flashy scoring winger. He is an extremely creative forward who has excellent puck skills. Artemi Panarin does struggle physically and isn’t a spectacular defensive forward, but that isn’t his role. He’s a super star winger who is a power play specialist. These past two years he proved, he doesn’t need a superstar (Patrick Kane) to help him, that by scoring 55 goals and adding 114 assists for 169 points in 160 games.

As you can see, Panarin, is an amazing forward and plays great in both ends. He also doesn’t let opportunities pass him up.

visual and data from EvolvingHockey

I would expect him to demand close to $9 million for around five to seven years. Not to be forgotten Panarin is only 27 years old. He could be in the ‘Hawks range, but next season Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat become restricted free agents. It is fair to mention Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin have a great relationship which could be a factor. I do see the Blackhawks being interested in him, but I still think he will go to the New York Rangers or Florida Panthers.

Chance of signing: 6/10

Anders Lee

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What is one thing the Blackhawks lack? Well there could be multiple answers to that question. Top four defensemen, forward depth and good penalty killers. I have a different answer, big and physical players. They had one of the smallest teams in the NHL this year (6’1″, smallest and 198 pounds, 3rd smallest). Anders Lee solves that problem as he’s 6’3″ and 230 pounds.

Anders Lee, has spent his whole career on the island with the New York Islanders. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2009. Since then, Lee, has posted 20 goals four times, (five full seasons) three straight 50 point seasons, and in 2017-2018 he scored 40 goals and assisted on 22 others in 82 games.

Lee, is a great possession forward and he is good in both ends. While he might not be great in some categories it’s still above average.

visual and data from EvolvingHockey

nLee, is a top six power forward. He cycles the puck, possesses it very well and plays along the boards. His shot is also very strong and he does well getting in front of the net. He does make mistakes defensively, but by no means is he bad in the defensive zone. Lee, is a good winger to have in your top six and he’s also a leader. He would be excellent on the wing or as a center.

I expect Lee to demand around $6 million for six years. Lee, turns 29 on July 3rd as well. Anders Lee, is a more reasonable option as he fits many of the ‘Hawks needs as well as he’s cheaper, so the Blackhawks have more money for Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome next summer. I believe that the Islanders are still number one on Lee’s list, but the Blackhawks are contenders for him as well.

Chance of signing: 7/10

Joe Pavelski

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As you may recall earlier in this article I stated “What is one thing the Blackhawks lack? Well there could be multiple answers to that question. Top four defensemen, forward depth and good penalty killers.” Well our penalty kill was at a league worst last year (72.7%). With a need for a good penalty killer and a top six forward, Joe Pavelski fits that role perfectly.

Joe Pavelski, was drafted in the seventh round in 2003. Pavelski, has since scored 20 goals seven times, 60 points six times and has received at least one vote for the Selke award (top defensive forward) 11 times (in a row). Five of those time he was in the top 20.

Pavelski, is an exceptional two-way forward. He plays hard in both ends and is constantly under hard minutes (19:03).

visual and data from EvolvingHockey

Just like the other two forwards, Joe Pavelski is a top six forward. He’s a shifty playmaker who can play any forward position, he’s good on faceoffs and has an outstanding shot. Pavelski, can play very well in the defensive zone taking away pucks, blocking shots and just having excellent positioning. Pavelski, helps in the top six, penalty kill and power play.

It has been rumored that Joe Pavelski wants $5 million with “some” term. So we can probably eliminate a one to two year deal. Not to mention he is 34 currently. Pavelski, is a pretty reasonable option except for the fact he wants term on his deal. While, Pavelski, has stated he wants to go back to San Jose, they only have $15.3 million in cap space to re-sign him, Kevin Labanc, Joonas Donskoi, Joe Thornton, Gustav Nyquist, Timo Meier, Dylan Gambrell, Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan. I don’t think a deal will get done. The Wisconsin native has been rumored to be interested in coming to Chicago as well.

Chance of signing: 8/10

Conclusion

When all is said and done the Blackhawks need to make moves this season. Whether that be for a top six forward, a top four defenseman and/or etc. Something needs to happen this offseason and we can’t sit pat like we did last offseason.

stats from: Elite Prospects, Hockey-Reference and Evolving-Hockey

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Dominik Kahun/Olli Määtta Trade Roundtable

On Saturday, June 15th, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins made a trade. Dominik Kahun and a 2019 5th round pick were sent to Pittsburgh in return for Olli Määtta.

This was a pretty surprising trade as there were no rumors of this trade till it was announced. Here are our immediate reactions at the trade!

Wally Mazurek:

As most of you know I am a (Chicago) Blackhawks fan. At the time of this trade I wasn’t very happy as Dominik Kahun is a fan favorite and is a great two-way forward. (Olli) Määtta has been described to me as a two-way defenseman, and also a hard worker. Kahun, is a top nine forward who posses speed, lots of playmaking ability and a decent shot. He also has a great amount of versatility and can play anywhere in a lineup. Kahun won’t blow anyone away with his point scoring, but he will be a great top six guy for Pittsburgh.

Määtta, has been described to me as, a top four defenseman who has a very high hockey IQ, a very active stick, a competent passer and can block a lot of shots. Määtta’s biggest downfall is his speed. Määtta should be able to help with the Blackhawks league worst penalty kill and could be an option on the power play.

Newly signed Blackhawks, Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin should fill in for Kahun very nicely. I started to come around to this trade, but only time will tell who won this trade. If I had to decide on a winner it would be the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Spencer Loane:

Personally, I think this is a great trade for both sides. Dominik Kahun provided a strong impact in his rookie season for Chicago after coming over from Europe, and he could potentially be a great fit in Pittsburgh’s top-six with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby as his center. Kahun works very hard in all three zones and is pretty versatile as well. This proves to me that the Blackhawks are relying on guys like Dylan Sikura, Dominik Kubalik, and potentially even Anton Wedin to replace Kahun.

For the Blackhawks, Olli Maatta is a solid bet for a Top-4 left-handed defenseman that they desperately need. He did have a rough 2018–19 season, as he battled health issues and inconsistency in his play. But, he did have a strong season in 2017–18, and I think that is what the Blackhawks are expecting from him in the future. Määtta is a good puck-moving defenseman that can provide some support on the penalty kill and block shots. He uses his outlets well in his own zone and also has a great first pass. I think that he would make a great fit on a pairing with Henri Jokiharju. Jeremy Colliton’s system relies heavily on transition offense, and having two great puck-movers like Määtta and Jokiharju can lead to that quick transition. I think the Blackhawks might look to see what he can do offensively by using him on the power play more, partly because he did not get much ice time on the man advantage in Pittsburgh. 

Jenn Perez:

Welcome to the offseason hockey fans! The Cup has been lifted and this year’s free agency, NHL draft are going to make big splash! Sit back in the pool, or lay in the sun and let’s take a dive into one of the recent trades in the offseason.

On Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks made a trade to boost the blue line with a young defenseman Olli Määtta from the Penguins in exchange for Dominik Kahun and a 2019 5th round pick. The Hawks needed to bolster the blue line and Määtta could be a great fit to the roster despite having a down year last season. And with Henri Jokiharju on the roster, could they be the defensive pairing the Hawks need to make the playoffs, or even make the Stanley Cup Final? We shall wait and see, Hawks fans!

player profiles – hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Who Will Win The Norris Trophy?

The James Norris Memorial Trophy is one of the most popular NHL trophies. So what is it and who are the candidates?

The James Norris Memorial Trophy, is a yearly NHL award given out to the best NHL defenseman in the regular season, voted by the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers’ Association). The Trophy is named after longtime and former owner of the Detroit Red Wings, James E. Norris. So who are the nominees?

Mark Giordano

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Mark Giordano was arguably the best two-way defenseman this year. He was a stalwart on the Calgary Flames defense and was able to lead them to a first place finish in the Western Conference. He had 17 goals (T-3rd), 57 assists (T-2nd) and 74 points (T-2nd) in 78 games. He put up a P1/60 (primary points per 60 minutes) of 1.26 and had 42 primary points in general.

His FF% (Fenwick For %) was 55.9% and his CF% (Corsi For %) was 57.1%. He also posted a TK:GV (Takeaway to Giveaway Ratio) 1.12:1. Giordano, averaged 24:14 on ice per game. Finally, he was great at blocking shots having 144 this year.

Like I mentioned before he’s an excellent two-way defenseman, but can also put up offensive numbers. He’s my favorite for the James Norris Memorial Trophy.

Brent Burns

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Brent Burns was arguably the top offensive defenseman this year. Burns, helped lead the San Jose Sharks to the playoffs and has played major minutes for them. He scored 16 goals (T-4th), 67 assists (1st) and 83 points (1st) in 82 games. He put up a P1/60 (primary points per 60 minutes) of 1.57 and in general 55 primary points.

His FF% (Fenwick For %) was 55.6% and his CF% (Corsi For %) was 56.8%. He also averaged 25:06 on ice per game. While he did turnover the puck more than he took it away he did still have 105 blocked shots and 90 hits.

Brent Burns did have a great offensive season leading defenseman in points and assists. He does struggle defensively, but his offense makes up for it.

Victor Hedman

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Victor Hedman was the winner of the Norris Trophy last year. He helped the Tampa Bay Lightning this season win an NHL record 62 wins. Running away with the president’s trophy for the best team in the regular season and lead them to the playoffs. He is an all-around defenseman and is excellent in each aspect of the game.

Hedman scored 12 goals (T-8th) and assisted on 42 others (T-8th) for 54 points (T-10th) in 70 games. He put up a P1/60 (primary points per 60 minutes) of 1.24 and 33 primary points in total.

His FF% (Fenwick For %) was 51.9% and his CF% (Corsi For %) is exactly the same at 51.9%. Hedman, also has a light down year in terms of hits and blocked shots with 59 and 97 respectively. He also had an average ice time of 22:46 which is lower than his career average of 23:12.

Victor Hedman is an elite all-around defenseman. He can play in any given situation and have great success. While he may have had a down year in comparison to his usual standard, he still continues to have a major impact in every area of the ice. 

Who was snubbed?

You could put a lot of people on this snubbed list but I have narrowed it down to three defensemen.

Toronto Maple Leafs, Morgan Reilly (20 G – 52 A – 72 P). He also recorded 114 blocked shots and 61 hits. Averaged 23:07 of ice time per game.

Ottawa Senators, Thomas Chabot (14 G – 41 A – 55 P). He blocked 112 shots and 71 hits. Averaged 24:17 time on ice per game.

Washington Capitals, John Carlson (13 G – 57 A – 70 P). He blocked 164 shots and had 54 hits. He averaged 25:04 of ice time per game.

Who should win it?

As the description of the award states, “[Top] Defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position.”

In my opinion, if it goes to the top all-around defenseman it should be Mark Giordano. While being excellent on defense, Giordano really flourished this season on the offensive side.

The other two defensemen, Hedman and Burns, made a compelling argument, but this is Mark Giordano’s award to win.

stats from – Elite Prospects, Hockey Reference, Corsica and Natural Stat Trick