Chicago Blackhawks: 3 Biggest Offseason Storylines Still to Be Worked out

Alex Bacon@abacon55Correspondent IAugust 31, 2012

Chicago Blackhawks: 3 Biggest Offseason Storylines Still to Be Worked out

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the many teams still working out a few kinks in their lineup this offseason.

    Their 2011-2012 season ended with a first-round exit courtesy of the Phoenix Coyotes. Since then, they have made a few minor transactions and are still hoping to make more.

    Back on July 1st, the expiration day of all players’ contracts, the Blackhawks signed defenseman Sheldon Brookbank. Other than that, the Blackhawks have not changed their lineup much from last season.

    They decided to let the aging Andrew Brunette walk, named Jamie Kompon as an assistant coach and extended their affiliation with ECHL’s Toledo Whale.

    Not very productive so far.

    Since CBA talks have started, not many teams have been making moves because they are waiting to see how much money they are dealing with.

    As soon as the NHL and NHLPA agree on terms, expect an explosion in the trade market and free agency.

    Rumors have stated a couple storylines for the Blackhawks before the 2012-2013 season begins. They are still hoping to make a few changes to improve for next year. 

Adam Clendening Making the NHL

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    The Blackhawks signed Adam Clendening in early June to a three-year contract.

    The 19-year-old American defenseman was drafted in the 2011 draft by the Blackhawks.

    Now that he is done playing for Boston University, the Blackhawks are hoping that Clendening can play with the big boys.

    Clendening can be a solid future defenseman on the blue line. With veteran players like Johnny Oduya, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith to help him out, Clendening should adjust just fine when he makes the step.

    He can even put up numbers like Keith has in previous years. While at Boston University, Clendening averaged almost a point a game and scored 15 power-play points in 38 games.

    He proved that he can have the offensive capability to compete in the NHL.

Brandon Saad Making the NHL

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    Brandon Saad could also crack the Blackhawks' lineup out of training camp.

    Saad was drafted 43rd overall in the second round by the Blackhawks in 2011. He is a big winger who can get scrappy in the corners and win battles down low.

    Last season, Saad dressed for two games with the Blackhawks early in the season, but he was quickly sent back to the OHL.

    His season in the OHL was incredible, though. He put up 76 points in 44 games, which was noticed by the Blackhawks. So. the Blackhawks gave him another shot in the postseason in order to replace an injured Marian Hossa.

    Saad played well in the postseason; he did not score any points though. The Blackhawks are hoping that, this year, he can break out and even earn top-six minutes.

    Seeing some top-six minutes with players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will do wonders for Saad's development.

Evander Kane Trade

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    During late August, many reports spilled that Kane asked the Jets to be traded, including a report by Julie Stewart-Binks of CTV.

    More recent reports say that Kane never had asked for a trade in the first place (via the Winnepeg Sun).

    Regardless of whether he asked to be traded or not, some teams have him on their radar.

    After being offered a $29 million contract over six years by the Jets, Kane still remains uncertain as to what team he will be with come next season.

    Kane would fit in well with the Blackhawks, though.

    A top six of Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Kane sounds deadly.

    Put on a line with Toews and Hossa, Kane can easily score more than his career-high 57 points last season.

    Kane’s plus/minus was also a plus-11—a team high.

    That’s impressive, considering the Jets finished the season with a minus-21 goal differential.

    Overall, if the Blackhawks land Kane, their offseason will be considered a success.