Chicago Blackhawks: How the Lockout Will Affect the 'Hawks

Alex Bacon@abacon55Correspondent ISeptember 16, 2012

Chicago Blackhawks: How the Lockout Will Affect the 'Hawks

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    As of 12:00 am on September 15th the Chicago Blackhawks, along with the rest of the NHL, have been officially locked out.

    Until the NHL and NHLPA can come to terms with a new CBA no hockey will be played.

    The effect of a possible shortened or cancelled 2012-2013 season would devastate fans, players and all those involved in the NHL.

    After winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the lockout will negatively effect the Blackhawks because the once championship team is now fading. 

    But, just like every other NHL team the Blackhawks’ prospects will get another year to develop.

    The Blackhawks have assigned 26 players to the AHL in hopes of helping their development. 

    The AHL will feature more talent because the lockout has forced organizations to send players down.

Age Will Start to Become a Factor for a Few Players

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    If the NHL is locked out for a full season every player will be a year older when they play in 2013-2014. 

    Patrick Sharp, Sheldon Brookbank, Steve Montador, Johnny Oduya, Marian Hossa, Jamal Mayers and Michal Rozsival are all already over 30 years of age. 

    Add another year to all these players and it’s about the time in their career where they need to start taking extra care of their bodies to not get injured. 

    For some of these players it’s hard to determine where they should play during the lockout, and if they should play at all. 

    If they do play then they may be risking injury. 

    If they do not play then they might fall out of hockey shape, which in the long run risks injury too. 

    Jonathan Toews, Steve Montador and Michael Frolik have already expressed interest in playing overseas in case of an extended lockout.  

    Unlike a few other sports, the United States does not necessarily dominate professional hockey. 

    Although the NHL is still probably better than leagues in Russia, Sweden or Slovakia, to name a few, these leagues are still very competitive.

Adam Clendening Will Have Another Season to Develop

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    Recently signed Adam Clendening will benefit from a lockout.  

    The 36th overall pick in the 2011 draft will not need to rush his way into the NHL now that he is officially a Blackhawk. 

    The Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the Rockford Ice Hogs, will serve Clendening well. Making a jump straight out of college to the NHL is not easy. Spending some time in the minors will help Clendening develop. 

    If the Blackhawks want him to turn into an exceptional puck-moving defense-man he needs to take time. He is in a fragile state right now, so the slower he moves the better he will be in the future. 

    Nick Leddy, who already has two years of NHL experience, will be playing in the AHL also. He can help mentor Clendening. 

    Then when the NHL is back up and running Clendening can make the jump more smoothly and be mentored by players like Duncan Keith, Oduya and Brent Seabrook.

Brandon Saad Will Miss an NHL Oppurtunity

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    Brandon Saad, who was also drafted in the 2nd round by the Blackhawks in 2011 will not get the same benefit of playing in the AHL compared to Clendening.  

    Saad already proved himself in the OHL, scoring 76 points in 44 games. 

    Although he has only played four career NHL games, he did play for the Blackhawks in the playoffs this year. 

    In the playoffs he recorded one assists and was a plus-1. 

    Saad’s scrappy play is NHL ready, he’s great at battling in the corners and in front of the net. 

    Bottom line is that Saad can compete with the big boys and playing another year at a level lower than the NHL may hurt his development

Corey Crawford Will Benefit

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    A year off for Corey Crawford won’t be the worst thing in the world. 

    Two years into his campaign of being the Blackhawks starting goalie, Crawford has played decent, but he still can do better. 

    Crawford recorded four SHO with a .917 SV% in 2010-2011. Then his stats decreased in 2011-2012 where his save percentage was .903 and he recorded no shutouts. 

    A year off can give Crawford some rest, and give him some time to focus on his game. 

    After an off year he will look to improve his 2.72 GAA that increased by almost half a goal from two years ago.

    He’s still banged up a little from the six playoff games he started where he faced on average about 27 shots per game. His .893 SV% was not good either, so some time to reflect on that can help him improve. 

    Crawford is still relatively young at 27 years old, so age isn’t much of an issue with him. He is actually reaching his primed age so these next few years are very important to his career. 

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