As a die-hard Chicago fan, you come across a great deal of love and hate for the city’s teams and players. We all saw the immense dramatic love/hate relationship for the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler this weekend.
The Chicago Cubs are known as the lovable losers, and the Chicago Blackhawks now have the key to the city’s heart after finally winning the Stanley Cup.
Regrettably, fans and sports media have rapidly turned their backs on the Blackhawks after their play has become inconsistent and careless at times.
With all of the hot air for the Blackhawks this season, people are now noting players to trade, send to Rockford or let go as a free agent by the end of the season.
The Blackhawks will have 12 free agents by the end of the 2010-2011 season (six RFA, six UFA).
Straightforwardly, I’d say Viktor Stalberg, Jack Skille, Fernando Pisani, Ryan Johnson and Nick Boynton are let go without a second thought.
For the most part, the fans and the Blackhawks organization have their mind on Brent Seabrook being re-signed first.
Seabrook has been a component of the Blackhawks organization for his entire NHL career, this being his sixth season. Being a part of the top defensive line with Duncan Keith, they have a twin-like sense of each other. They are not creepy like the Sedin Twin forward pairing, but each season they are together, they are getting closer to flawlessness.
Troy Brouwer, Jake Dowell and Corey Crawford seem to be next on the list for Blackhawks fans to see be re-signed whether long or short term.
They have shown to be impressive players on and off the ice while becoming fan favorites.
Brouwer has spent two seasons with the club, proving he has it all as a physical force of a goal scorer up until now.
Dowell and Crawford have both worked their way through Rockford in the earlier part of their career to prove they are here to stay in the NHL.
When it comes to the last three free agents, who happen to all be UFA’s, it starts to become a bit tricky.
Jordan Hendry, Marty Turco and Tomas Kopecky give the front office a bit of a dilemma.
When you put all money aside this could be easy, but to re-sign Seabrook and six other succeeding players, it becomes a lot more difficult
Hendry seemed to be effortless out at the start of the season while he grabbed some bench for the majority of the first half. With defensive struggles from John Scott, Jassen Cullimore and Boynton, Hendry was the last hope to pair with Nick Leddy.
Shockingly, the pairing has been working so far. Now it seems a little more complex to part with Hendry, taking into account the chemistry the two defensemen have built thus far.
Turco has been a bust compared to his past performance, but the familiarity he brings to such a goaltender (Crawford) and the team overall can be useful if he is willing to keep his salary low once again.
It would be a great chance to take if you can get him at an inexpensive price for one more season.
Kopecky has been one of the most hated players on the Blackhawks roster through fans' eyes so it seems (minus Boynton).
He takes a lot of heat for poor plays and penalties, yet when he is hot, the man is hot. Scoring two goals in Saturday’s game against his former team (Detroit Red Wings), he was once again the hero of the team.
Also, Kopecky has progressed season after season. He already has 31 points at the All-Star Break, which is his peak nonetheless.
Kopecky is now eating up $1.2 million of the salary cap space for the Chicago Blackhawks.
If he keeps producing like he has been this season, he will ask for additional money from the team or whichever squad would desire to sign him.
The Blackhawks should keep him as an interest throughout the season for staying on the team.
Even though it is quite evident he is not a leader on the ice, he plays remarkably well with the Blackhawks, mainly Marian Hossa, who is also from Slovakia.
With any luck, the Blackhawks will be sharp to re-sign him long-term for a lesser amount of money.
It will be fascinating to see what happens to Kopecky and the rest of the free agents this offseason, yet with a bit of luck, not as heartbreaking as the last.