With a lockout expected to continue for the unknown future, what exactly does it mean for many players on the Chicago Blackhawks?
For most, a lockout is not good. It will either hurt opportunities, hurt development, hurt a crucial season and, for some, hurt their careers.
Marian Hossa, and other injured players, are the exception to this rule. A lockout provides them with extra time to rest and take care of themselves.
However, many players are not in that situation. For the most part, a lockout is not the ideal way for a player to spend the year.
So, here are 10 Chicago Blackhawks players who will be hurt most by the NHL lockout. The only order they are placed in is determined by their position.
Ray Emery waited a long time to get back into the NHL. More time off—for a goalie trying to prove his worth once again—is something he will not want to face.
After recovering from a career-threatening injury almost two years ago, Emery has shown he wants to battle his way up the ranks again.
Last season, he showed he can be a capable backup in the NHL. If being a backup is where Emery sees himself, then that is great, but it seems like a driven goaltender like himself will want more.
A season off, especially when he only has a one-year contract, is not an ideal situation for him. He needs the playing time to show his worth so his stock can rise going into next year.
The only way for that to happen is to play games in the NHL. A lockout will not allow that to happen for Emery.
The sophomore slump hit Corey Crawford hard last year. All year long, he had to face the idea that the Blackhawks goaltenders were just not up to snuff.
Crawford believes in himself and has come a long way to deserve the chance to be a bona fide No. 1 starter in the NHL. He—maybe more than anyone—is going to be hurt by the lockout.
If a lockout carries on for a substantial amount of time, perhaps the whole season, it means Crawford is left with more time to think about his game.
Confidence for a goaltender is key. Crawford probably wants nothing else than to be back in between the pipes proving his own capabilities.
There is a lot of pressure riding on the shoulders of the Blackhawks goalie. Crawford is going to need all the time he can get leading a NHL team to show people he has what it takes.
The big question, if a lockout lasts the whole season, is whether the Blackhawks consider signing Rozsival to another deal?
This would seem to rest on his playing capabilities, which Rozsival plans to keep in top form. Rozsival has recently signed to play in the Czech League while the lockout continues.
However, Rozsival is not getting any younger. Another season of hockey may put him out of the running for a top-six job next year in the NHL. We have seen his production fall dramatically over the last few campaigns, but he can still log minutes on the ice.
This season, he would have been a good depth piece to the Blackhawks defence—providing ice time relief for Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Next year, on the other hand, it could be a different story.
Although there is no questioning the fact Nick Leddy will be able to use his time in Rockford to his advantage, what can be questioned is does he belong there?
Leddy has the talent to be a very good offensive defenceman in the NHL—evident by the 37 points he put up last season.
Of course, he still has things to work on—such as his own defensive play—but what better way to improve on that then playing against the best players in the world.
The AHL can only do so much for a younger player. Once they excel there, then it is time for the NHL to develop them even further. Leddy has traveled that path and now has to return to the start of his journey.
He has gone full-circle rather than his stock continuing to rise.
Although Leddy has the talent to to be a top performer in Rockford, something he would not be in Chicago with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook ahead of him, he deserves—and needs to be—in the NHL to hone the rest of his talents.
Garret Ross was the Chicago Blackhawks' fifth-round selection (139th overall) in this year's NHL entry draft. Passed over two years prior, his lucky day finally came.
Last season, with the help of teammate Brandon Saad, Ross scored 25 times. His point total of 54 in the 60 regular season games he played with the Saginaw Spirit was the fifth-most on the team.
So far this season, Ross has kicked his game into high gear, turning himself into a dominating player in the OHL. Not only is he known for being a great checking forward who is not afraid to get a little dirty, but now, opponents have to watch out for his offensive upside.
In only four games with the Spirit, he is tied for the team lead with six points.
Although another year in junior will not hurt his game, he will not be able to fully develop into the type of player he is going to be at the professional level.
Teams are not going to be looking for his scoring and offensive talents when they come calling. They are going to use Ross as a hard-nosed, checking forward with a comfortable home on the third or fourth line.
A spot in the now-crowded AHL may have been his best bet.
Is this a trend that will continue? For Bickell's sake, hopefully, it does not.
He is coming into this season on the last year of his contract. Next season, he will likely be asking for a raise on the almost $550,000 he is making now. In order for that to happen, Bickell will need to make sure he is worth it to the Blackhawks organization.
Bickell needs this season to show he can be a valuable commodity to the Blackhawks bottom lines. He needs to show the team, and management, he is the best possible option at his position.
In order for him to do this, he needs to show the team he can still contribute offensively, continue to play strong defensively and start using his big frame more to his advantage.
If there is no season, then Bickell will not have the opportunity to play in the final year of his contract. The Blackhawks may still choose to bring him back, but they may also have to ask some serious questions before making that call.
This was supposed to be the year of Brandon Saad.
After another stellar campaign with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, where he was able to rack up 76 points in only 44 games played, this upcoming season looked like the perfect time for Saad to finally make the jump to the NHL.
He certainly possess enough offensive talent to get the job done and did not look out of place with his time spent with the big club last season. Saad was even able to chip in with an assist in one of the two games he played with the Blackhawks in the playoffs.
Saad is ready to play in the NHL and ready to shine. If the lockout continues, he will just have to do the same thing in the AHL. He will be a great asset in Rockford and can continue to further perfect his game, especially on the defensive side of the puck.
Although a season spent in the AHL will not be the worst-case scenario for Saad, he has the talent to be playing in the NHL. When a player has the talent to be playing in the best league in the world, then that is where they belong.
He has shown he is ready and only now needs the opportunity to prove he can still produce while playing against the best players the world has to offer.
Just like Brandon Saad above, Brandon Pirri had a very good shot at making the opening day roster of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Pirri is a former second-round pick who has played with the Rockford IceHogs for the past two seasons. In that time, he has also seen some action with the Blackhawks—six games to be exact.
He has put his time in with the IceHogs and was expected to have a very good chance at becoming a season-long staple with the Blackhawks, possibly seeing time as the second-line pivot.
Last season in Rockford, Pirri put up good numbers. He scored 23 goals and had a point total of 56. The best part was the fact he was able to improve on his point total of 43 from the year before—all the while playing in less games.
An extra year spent in the AHL is not necessarily a bad thing for Pirri. However, when you have a chance to play in the NHL, you have to be able to utilize it. With a lockout, Pirri will not be able to do that.
His game can only develop so much at the AHL level. It seems like it is time for him to find his place in the NHL, but for now anyway, that will have to wait.
Michael Frolik, like Corey Crawford, has a lot to prove. Maybe even more so actually.
When the Chicago Blackhawks traded with the Florida Panthers for the young winger, they must have been hoping he would bring the same type of offensive flair he had with them. So far, however, that has not been the case—on a consistent level at least.
Last season, Frolik played in 63 regular season games and could only muster up 15 points. Nothing compared to the consecutive seasons he had with the Panthers where he broke the 20-goal barrier and had at least 40 points.
Frolik has two years left on his $2.3 million contract, and if he expects to have an extension added on, he has to start to prove himself.
There is no denying that the talent is there—seen in spurts out of the former first-round pick. What needs to happen, however, is for him to put it all together. If he can do that, then someone, maybe not the Blackhawks, will come calling.
Without a season this year, it gives Frolik even less time to turn his career around. A full-season lockout means everything will be on the line next season. It will be boom or bust for Michael Frolik. If he desires to stay in a Blackhawks uniform, he will have to contribute like they expect him too.
Jamal Mayers will be turning 38 in less than a month. Once next season rolls around, the big question is going to be if he still has enough left in the tank for another season?
After re-signing for one more year with the Blackhawks, Mayers will now have to look elsewhere to play. He knows with his age, sitting around and not being on skates will not help to lengthen his career. If Mayers is going to try and compete for a job next year, he has to show he still has what it takes to play a whole season.
Mayers is an excellent fourth-line role player. He can win faceoffs, kill penalties and is a much better skater then people associate him with. If he can still play, it would be great for him to return to a Blackhawks uniform next year—if this lockout continues.
Right now, however, Mayers needs to find a place to play so everyone can make sure he still has it. The team is not going to sign someone his age just because they feel compelled too.
If Mayers does not find a place to play during the lockout—and depending on how long it continues—last season could have been his last in the NHL.