The Chicago Blackhawks have a nucleus that should keep them relevant for the next five to 10 years in the NHL. They have plenty of young talent, and seem to have found the goalie of the future in Corey Crawford. Now they need to find the right pieces to plug into the 2011-2012 roster for them to have a more consistent year.
They struggled in 2010 with consistency from night to night, and were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. They could not get all their ducks in a row this year, and the jumbling of lines showed that they did not have the chemistry of 2009. The taste in the mouths of Toews, Kane and company cannot be good. Even so, they have plenty of firepower to stay relevant in the coming years.
This offseason will be a much-needed break to get the hunger back; they will be able to recharge the batteries and be fresh for 2012. Let’s take a look at the players that will not be returning for the 2011-2012 season.
Marty Turco has had a decent ten-year career. The 35-year-old is now on the brink of retiring from the NHL. He came into 2010-2011 as the starting goaltender of the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, but his slow start and the emergence of rookie Corey Crawford has him looking from the outside in.
He played the lowest amount of games this year since his rookie season, and his goals-against/save percentage were the lowest of his career. He may get a shot with another team, but his days in Chicago are coming to an end. The Blackhawks have found their net minder going forward, and will sign Crawford to a multi-year deal before the season begins.
Turco’s asking price will be too high. Plus, the Hawks also have a few options at backup that will be cheaper and leave them better off in the long haul. Marty has been a class act for the organization and very helpful in mentoring Crawford. If there are zero suitors for his services in the NHL next year, look for a retirement in the near future, as he will not look to explore options overseas.
Veteran Fernando Pisani will not be in the mix in 2012. He has been a cheap option for the Blackhawks, but their need to have a true center will have Pisani looking elsewhere next season. Pisani has been a decent penalty killer for the Hawks, but his production was nothing close to what the Hawks expected when they signed him last summer. His lack of playing time down the stretch and in the playoffs shows the Blackhawks' hand going into next year.
The arrival of Ben Smith, Marcus Kruger and others will push Pisani out the door. I wish him well on his future endeavors, and always appreciated him playing any role he was asked to do. But his time is up in Chicago
Kopecky has been a solid contributor for the Blackhawks, and has played the majority of the time with the top six forwards. He will be due a raise next season, but with the logjam at forward, his time with the Hawks might be coming to a close.
He epitomizes what I enjoy watching as a fan of the game. His energy and willingness to be a pest to opponents will be sorely missed if he is gone next season. It’s no surprise that he has been a part of winning teams. He does what is asked of him, and does not complain about ice time or anything else.
Look for him to get a multi-year deal from a contender next year, and for that team to have a good shot of winning the Stanley Cup.
The Hawks are strapped with the salary cap and do not have enough money to keep solid players that are due a raise. They will have to go cheap to fill his rol,e and I just hope they can find another player with the same skill set
Jordan Hendry is an unrestricted free agent. His ability to play both offense and defense is a bonus for any team that has him on their roster. His speed and puck skills were very solid, but his health may be the determining factor in his departure.
Hendry will be due a raise from his $600,000 cap number in 2010, and the Hawks just won’t have enough room to sign him. He is a good young player with many intangibles, but his unfortunate luck with injuries will force the Blackhawks to let him go.
At only 26, he has a bright career in front of him. Look for him to get a two-year deal with a rebuilding team and be able to become a leader in that locker room.
In 2010, Brouwer was the most versatile Blackhawk. He played on every line and in every situation. His ability to forecheck and play multiple positions makes him the hardest Blackhawk to lose. He has played well, and will be due a slight raise from his $1,025,000 cap number last year. That will not bode well in his chances to stick with the Hawks. Look for him to become trade bait in the offseason, as the Blackhawks will look to find a true center to strengthen their team.
Brouwer has been the type of player to make you scratch your head. He has stretches where he belongs on the first line of many teams, but in the last 28 games of the year—including playoffs—he did not light the lamp. For someone with 17 goals on the year, that is an unheard of slump. He has all the talent in the world to be a top six forward on a Stanley Cup Champion, but there is a time where production trumps talent.
I think he is 50-50 on returning to the Blackhawks for the 2011-2012 campaign. If he is not traded in the offseason, look for a breakout year in 2012, with career bests in goals and assists.