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3 Years Removed From A Championship
Summer After The Cup
The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks were coming off of their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. They were celebrating their achievement but also knew what was to come. A number of players had signed new contracts that were about to kick in during the coming season and this put the Hawks over the salary cap. It was widely known around the league that these Hawks had to dump players off of their roster so Chicago was at a disadvantage from the start of the offseason.
Here is a breakdown of the Stanley Cup winning roster
The Roster Purge Begins
Now in no particular order I will go over the players that left and where they ended up. The first couple moves were made with the Atlanta Thrashers. The Hawks sent out Sopel, Eager, Byfuglien, & Ladd to ATL. This was a pretty big move for the Thrashers on the eve of leaving to become the Winnipeg Jets. As of today Byfuglien is the Jets top defensemen and Ladd is the team captain. The Hawks then traded Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hendry was let go as a free agent as well as Burish and Madden. Kopecky was traded to the Florida Panthers to reunite with Hawks former GM and current Panthers GM Dale Tallon. I have an updated list of all the players and where exactly they ended up initially.
- Madden -----> Free Agency
- Fraser -----> Dallas
- Ladd -- Atlanta
- Brouwer -- Washington
- Versteeg -- Toronto
- Byfuglien -- Atlanta
- Burish -- Free Agency
- Eager -- Atlanta
- Kopecky -- Florida
- Sopel -- Atlanta
- Hendry -- Free Agency
- Campbell -- Florida (Traded after 2011 Season)
- Niemi -- Free Agency
- Huet -- Loaned Out Of NHL
As you can see the Hawks lost a very big portion of that Championship team and that in itself would be enough for most teams to have a real chance of missing the playoffs for acouple of years while they retool. The Hawks did stumble the first season after this roster purge and made it into the playoffs on the very last day.The Hawks showed a glimpse of the team that they could be when they came back from being down 0-3 in the first round series against their rival Canucks. They ultimately ended up losing in OT in game 7 but that seemed to be a coming out party for goalie Cory Crawford. Crawford had many questions surrounding him as he was largely an unproved starting goaltender.
Currently the Blackhawks are waiting to start a game 6 down 3-2 in a series with the Detroit Redwings in round 2 of the 2013 playoffs. If the Hawks end uip losing in this years playoffs it will be the third consecutive year that they are eliminated. In 2011 and 2012 they had 1st round exists. The Hawks have shown flashes of what they can be in games 1 and 5 by dominating the Wings physically and with puck possession, the result of both those games was a 4-1 win each game.
The main question that many fans in Blackhawks nation are asking is how a team that is this talented not even reach the Western conference finals ? This current roster even had set a franchise and NHL record for consecutive games earning at least a point. This is a team that was very dominant throughout the 2012-2013 season and yet they seem to change their game style to an extreme for the playoffs. This team is a very high powered and explosive offensive team and they are showing anything but that in the playoffs. This Hawks team becomes to defensive and seems to want to take every game into overtime, even with teams that really have no business hanging around with the talent of the Hawks.
Hawks Game 5 Game Winning Goal
Whether the Hawks advance in this years playoffs or not, I would like to look at what the future holds for the roster of this team. I will name the Hawks biggest prospects with the highest expectations. First I would like to address what many think is the biggest need for this Hawks team, The biggest need is for a true number 2 Center followed by a real Power Forward. The Hawks also have not had a franchise goalie in the system in quite a long time so that would be a nice hole to fill as well. The Hawks seem to have acouple good D-Man prospects but you can never have enough good D prospects.
Now for the potential near future Hawks. I will start with the forwards and work down to the goalies. As far as future Centers go Phillip Danault looks like the future 2nd line center that the Hawks are looking for but that may be 1-2 years away still, He has a chance to make the team next year but odds are he will get some seasoning in Rockford. Another chance for the 2nd or 3rd line Center is the newly acquired Drew LeBlanc, who is much closer to becoming a regular Blackhawk than most on this list. He is coming off a Hobey Baker Award winning college season and had a good showing in a hand full of games that he played for the Hawks this year. Next up on the list is Mark McNeil who is slated to be the Power Forward that this team has still been looking for. He like Danault is expected to start his seasoning in Rockford next season. Rounding out the Center position is Teuvo Teravainen. He has been touted as having the hands and hockey mind of Patrick Kane and if that is true then that only can be great to have another player even close to the level of Kane on your roster. He is expected to start in Rockford as well next year. Rockford looks to be stacked with talent at Center in 2014.
The Defense is not as stacked as the forward positions but a standout on D is Adam Clendening. He is expected to be a top 4 Defensemen in his NHL future, when that is I do not know because Defense does usually take a bit longer to develop.
As I said before the goalie position is a bit thin for the Hawks but the best chance at putting on a Hawks jersey in the near future would be prospect Marc Carruth who is playing his last season for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL. He looks like an aggressive goalie that is not shy about getting in the players heads and even welcoming alittle contact in the crease.
Of course the free agency moves also will depend if the Hawks will remain Stanley Cup contenders or if they become what the Vancouver Canucks have become in the last year. One thing is sure, when the Hawks play to their top performance level, their a very few teams that can compete with them as they are built currently. There will be some interesting decisions in this offseason that I sure will spark some debates. Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of the playoffs.