Hawk Shots: James Wisniewski Makes Immediate Impact in Return to Blackhawks

Michael WagnerSenior Analyst IDecember 17, 2008

Wisniewski Makes a Big Splash in his First Game Back

There were so many positives in the Chicago Blackhawks rout of the Edmonton Oilers but probably the biggest positive was the return of James Wisniewski to the Blackhawks lineup. The Canton, Michigan native posted three assists in his first NHL game since undergoing ACL surgery during the offseason. 

Wisniewski rejoined the team after a successful stint in the AHL with the Rockford Ice Hogs where he recorded four points in two games, including a hat-trick against the Chicago Wolves on Saturday.

The 'Hawks are happy to have Wisniewski back as he was a major part of the teams improvement last season recording 26 points (seven goals and 19 assists), 102 penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating.

This is the third time that Wisniewski has had surgery on his right knee in the last six months but hopefully he can once again can become a regular in the Blackhawks lineup. 


Brent Sopel's Days Numbered?

With James Wisniewski's return to the lineup, the recent play of Matt Walker and Aaron Johnson's eventual return to the lineup it would seem that Brent Sopel's days in Chicago are numbered.

Sopel has a cap number of $2.333 million and is still under contract until 2010/2011 season and will not help the eventual re-signing of the 'Hawks youth. There are still plenty of teams that could use a solid puck moving defensemen like Sopel.

Some teams that might desire the services of Brent Sopel are the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres. Only time will tell if he is on his way out.


Jeff Halpern, The Solution?

I am a frequenter of the Chicago Blackhawks message boards and found a topic that I found quite interesting (Link). In the topic, "mvr" discusses the thought of the 'Hawks possibly trading for center Jeff Halpern of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning are getting very top heavy at forward and lacking on the defensive end, it is possible that the 'Hawks could orchestrate a deal that would send Brent Sopel and a prospect such as Petri Kontiola (who has asked to be traded) for Jeff Halpen.

Halpern would be able to move Patrick Sharp back to wing as he has been struggling at the face off dot at 43.2 percent, fourth on the team among centers. He would also be an important addition in the locker room as he was named the captain of Team USA for the World Championships. 

Halpern ruptured his ACL on May 6 and is has yet to make his return to the Tampa Bay lineup but is expected to be back in the coming weeks.


Patrick Kane Leading All-Star Voting

It was announced today that Patrick Kane is leading the Western Conference in votes received among forwards with 341,242. Kane is currently tied with Jerome Iginla atop the West in scoring with 37 points.

It is great to see the Kane getting the recognition from those across the league and hopefully we will hear Rock You Like a Hurricane in Atlanta at the All-Star Game.

On other Blackhawks All-Star news Duncan Keith still does not appear to be in the top 10 among defensemen with votes. Keith continues to be one of the most underrated defensemen in the lead, and even on his own team as Brian Campbell is third among defensemen in votes.


Western Canada Trip Continues

The 'Hawks will continue you their Western Canadian road trip on Friday as they take on the Calgary Flames before continuing on to Vancouver to take on the Canucks on Saturday. 

This is quite a fun road trip for a few of the 'Hawks, as some of them were born and raised in Western Canada, such as Jonathan Toews (Winnipeg), Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge), Troy Brouwer (Vancouver) and Duncan Keith (Winnipeg).