Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Prospect Camp 2010

Quick recaps. Feeling quite drained this week, so soon as I can get some rest, I'll post some prospect camp pictures (or feel free to browse through them on my Flickr pool if you can't wait) and prospect camp discussion; more talk about those Blackhawks who've left the team for one reason (trade) or another (allowed to walk under free agency). 

A few quick items:

- Today, Stan Bowman announced that the Blackhawks would meet San Jose's offer sheet to Niklas Hjarlmarsson. Yes, even with my somewhat cynical eye towards SJ's move, I didn't expect anything different, but now here comes the bad news: this makes it very difficult to re-sign Antti Niemi, and still fill out the roster, for what's left of the salary cap (assuming Huet moves to AHL or other). That is, of course, unless the Hawks can get him to agree to a deal for under $2.5M or less - more likely $2M - for at least one year.

Otherwise, they'll be combing the FA pool to find a bargain-basement goalie and crossing their fingers that their defense can make the difference for the 2010-11 season.

Somehow, I think a certain somebody's agent got a phone call today along the lines of, "Gee, thanks for that advice to take the club to arbitration, putz."

- This leaves a lot of speculation about whether another player might get traded in order to: 1. get a goalie on the roster (Huet takes up too much salary on his own, but is more likely to be buried in the AHL than get traded); and 2. make more cap space.  The smart money would be for the team to attempt to move Brian Campbell. His $7.1M would be huge in terms of cap space/cap relief, and would not only allow signing Niemi at a decent salary at a longer term (instead of praying to get a good deal out of either aging UFAs Jose Theodore or Marty Turco for a year or two) but would help Chicago for many years to come.

A lot of people are wailing and gnashing their teeth about the idea of losing Campbell, but my (blunt) thought is that if a player that ties up 12% of your available salary and isn't even your star player (ie. Toews) is "going to affect the team" that adversely, well - then your team has a lot more issues than just the salary cap.

If the Blackhawks can't find another solid, yet affordable, D-man for a lot less money than Campbell, they've really got problems. Campbell's limited no-trade clause (LNTC) makes it difficult, but not impossible, to trade him. And there are several teams out there that are far below the cap floor which would gain the kind of player that would be worthwhile to their club to take on his salary (ie. NY Islanders, Atlanta). Since the Blackhawks have a glut of draft picks for 2011 (six in the first three rounds alone) and a talent-heavy prospect class, it is possible to sweeten a Campbell trade enough that another team would willingly take on his albatross of a salary.

The other name floated about for trade options is Patrick Sharp, but that wouldn't be the smartest choice. Sharp is coming into his prime, and showed he has great smarts and flexibility as either winger or center. He is definitely a core player for the Hawks moving forward. He is also a far gentler cap hit at under $4M for next season.

- There was a lot of exciting young talent at prospect camp this weekend, and I'll certainly offer some opinions about that later, although mostly I was working on photography of players.

A standout for the weekend was Kyle Beach. Unfortunately, he didn't stand out because of his play or what he demonstrated between his ears. No, he got into at least 4 fights over the weekend. The first one was intentionally provoked, not sure about the rest - including two against Norwegian forward Mathis Olimb, who, at age 24, was one of the oldest prospects at camp.

Apparently, this fight with Beach left Olimb with an injured (dislocated?) shoulder and he will likely be off the ice for 3-4 months. Not the best way to make an impression at prospect camp.
Dear Kyle Beach,
Listen up, because this is one of the few times I'll ever mention Chris Pronger in a positive manner. If you're gonna be a goon, fine, be a goon. But take your example from players like Pronger, who are very smart about how and when they use their aggression. Don't be like Dan Carcillo, who took out his own teammate in a playoff game. Money's tight for Chicago this year. You want to make an impression? Then show the team how you can be smart and be useful for what your cap hit is. Otherwise, enjoy Rockford. Or wherever they might trade you off to.

With me being such a big goalie fan, of course I paid a lot of attention to the goalie prospects. My personal favorite was Phil Cook, who looked very solid and graceful in the net. Calvin Heeter and Jody O'Neill both had less goals scored against them (3 and 4 to Cook's 6, across 4 days of scrimmages, but Cook looked assured and in command of his net. I would expect that we'll hear many good things about this guy in the future.

Blackhawks prospect camp 7/10/2010

I also have to share a picture of his mask. As you know, if you read my blog regularly, I like goalie mask art. Cook's mask has a purple dragon on the front, but I was amused to see that he had Cookie Monster on the back. And instead of Cookie Monster devouring a plate of cookies, he's got a plate of pucks in front of him and is holding a puck up in the air. Very playful and fun. 


  1. Thought Heeter looked as poised as anyone and he was according to a couple of the Blackhawk personnel the goalie of the game in 3 of the 4 games he participated in...

  2. Although I know Heeter was on the ice for a couple of the scrimmages I got to see, I unfortunately was at the far end of the ice so didn't really have a clear view of his work. But his very low score tally across 4 days is a good indication!

  3. Cookie Monster mask is hysterical. One of the frats at my undergrad alma mater was known for oddball chants at football games, one of which involved Cookie Monster.

    "Cookie Monster says [hometeam] are great big cookies at the top of the jar! Cookie Monster says [opposition team] are [little voice] itty-bitty crumbs at the bottom of the jar!"


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