Hawks say goodbye to Antti Raanta; Now look to solve depth goaltending puzzle again

By Chris Block

For the time being, goaltending is suddenly in short supply once again for the Blackhawks.

On Saturday after completion of the NHL Entry Draft, Hawks general manager Stan Bowman traded goaltender Antti Raanta to the New York Rangers in exchange for minor league forward Ryan Haggerty.

Haggerty, 22, will be a second year pro this coming season. He posted 15 goals and 18 assists in playing all 76 regular season games for the Hartford Wolf Pack in 2014-15. Haggerty notched 2 goals and 4 assists in 14 playoff games for Hartford.

The undrafted right winger out of R.P.I. is a Stamford, CT native and figures to add nice layer of scoring to the IceHogs.

Haggerty is familiar with IceHogs rookie defenseman Michael Paliotta. The due played two seasons together in the United States National Development Team Program. Haggerty is six weeks older than Paliotta. Read more »

No movement from Hawks on Day One; Names to keep an eye on for Day Two of NHL Draft

By Chris Block

Friday evening’s opening round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft came and went without any involvement from the Chicago Blackhawks.

The anticipated trade of Patrick Sharp did not materialize as of late Friday, and general manager Stan Bowman was unable to move any other contracts, with Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg being the names prominently being floated as on the block.

Bowman and company were also unable to maneuver their way into a first round pick. The Arizona Coyotes used the pick they obtained from the Blackhawks in the Antoine Vermette trade to select Kelowna’s Nick Merkley, a 5’10” playmaking center who plays on the gritty size and was seen as a mid first round pick by most draft services.

There was a lot of movement up and down the first round board. Boston made the biggest headlines of the day swinging separate deals with Calgary and Los Angeles so that the Bruins wound up with the #13, #14 and #15 picks on Friday. Boston sent restricted free agent Dougie Hamilton to the Flames for the #15 pick, the #45 and #52. The Bruins then sent fan favorite Milan Lucic to the Kings in exchange for the #13 pick, goalie Martin Jones and minor league defenseman Colin Miller.

Ottawa traded goaltender Robin Lehner and center David Legwand to Buffalo in exchange for the 21st pick, which the Sens used to take center Colin White of the US National Development Team. White is headed to Boston College and regularly draws comparisons to Patrick Bergeron. White grew up in Boston and is a B’s fan. Read more »

Salary Cap and Reality of Off Season Now Set; A look at Blackhawks position and options

[As I noted on Twitter last week, our Summer Blackhawks prospect rankings, originally scheduled for release on Monday, will be delayed due to a family emergency that had me pulled away and out of town last week. I don’t want to commit to a new date just yet, but I am working on it. The draft has taken precedent now. Thanks to all who sent nice notes the past week. I was off the grid for the most part. To those I didn’t get back to, I do appreciate it.]

By Chris Block

Today will kick-off our draft week coverage with the requisite state of the Blackhawks roster business in the wake of the salary cap becoming official for next season.

The Blackhawks currently do not own a 1st round selection in the NHL Draft this Friday in Sunrise, Florida. Chicago occupies just 2 spots over the initial 120 picks in the 2015 NHL Draft. You can expect that to change between now and this weekend, with the Hawks eyeing picks in return for some currently rostered players. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the situation the Blackhawks are in now because of new contracts kicking in, others still to be hammered out and the salary cap being the primary enemy of the defending Stanley Cup Champs.

2015-16 Salary Cap Guidelines Set

NHL released its parameters for the 2015-16 salary cap on Tuesday in conjunction with the National Hockey League Players Association per terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The new “upper limit” is set at $71.4 million, up $2.4M from the 2014-15 season. Read more »

Blackhawks One Win From Stanley Cup Following 2-1 Victory In Game 5

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks wrested control of their Stanley Cup Final from the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night. A strong defensive effort, paired with opportunistic goals by Patrick Sharp and Antoine Vermette, resulted in a 2-1 Blackhawks triumph in Game 5.

The Hawks bring a 3-2 series lead into Chicago Monday night as they attempt to finish the series on home ice. It was far from easy; for the fifth time in as many games, the margin of victory was a single goal.

First Period-It was the Blackhawks who came out on the attack in the opening minutes. Brandon Saad got a couple of shots to Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop. The Lightning returned fire with an odd-man rush late in the second minute, though Victor Hedman’s centering attempt was broken up. The Hawks blitzed Bishop with a few pucks from the fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw. The Lightning countered with a strong shift in the fifth minute. Read more »

Lindbloom’s View: Find a Way

Lindbloom_Top_Buchanan_20150613“I’m gonna show you, I’m gonna give it to you.”

“Never let your head hang down.
Never give up and sit down and grieve.
Find another way.
And don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
Satchel Paige

By Rich Lindbloom

This post season has left me in a pensive mood while contemplating the ascendance of new stars and decline of old heroes.

I guess I could take some solace in that while yesterday’s hockey dynasty’s, like the Bruins and Kings, are watching this year’s playoffs from the sideline, the Hawks are in the Stanley Cup Final. Yet, it seems there are some chinks in the armor; there have been times in this season I’m overcome with a sense of the beginning of the end. One of the greatest guitarists most of you have never heard of, Roy Buchanan, has a song called The Circle that reminds me of the mercurial nature of success. I believe the lyrics are basically saying “what goes up, must come down.” Read more »

Hawks tie series, Survive Lightning Gm 4 Assault

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks drew even with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night, winning a breakneck-paced Game 4 by a score of 2-1. Brandon Saad potted the game-winner in the third period of a contest in which the Hawks absolutely had to prevail.

First Period-Ryan Callahan bounced a backhand attempt off of the chest of Corey Crawford a minute into the game after a giveaway by Brent Seabrook. A few seconds later, Nikita Kucherov just missed a tip-in attempt after another Hawks turnover. Cedric Paquette nearly had a chance on Crawford after another Chicago miscue in its own zone.

Chicago got set up in the offensive zone briefly in the fifth minute, though a Niklas Hjalmarsson attempt was knocked wide before it got to rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Going into the first media timeout seven minutes into the opening period, Tampa had carried most of the action to the Hawks, who had not logged a shot on goal. Read more »

Lindbloom’s View: The Music Hasn’t Stopped

Lindbloom_Garcia_20150610Miracling

“Out of difficulties grow miracles.” – Jean de la Bruyere

By Rich Lindbloom

Miracling is a term associated with Dead Heads who would follow the band from city to city, hoping to score a ticket. I never did quite get it until I saw my first Grateful Dead show on 7/8/1995.  The show they performed the next night would be the last gig they ever played together. According to Dead Heads I talked to about the show, they said it was a bit of a disappointment. Jerry Garcia was struggling with health issues at the time and was apparently not on the top of his game. Much like our Blackhawks, he was “Going down the road feeling bad, bad luck is all I’ve ever had…” (After the Lightning’s victories in Game’s Two and Three, it would appear the Hawks will need a miracle to overcome the suddenly unbeatable Bolts.) Read more »

Tampa’s 3rd period comeback at the UC gives Lightning a 2-1 series lead

By Brad Vandenberk

The Blackhawks found themselves lucky that they were able to get a split in Tampa Bay. The return to home ice on Monday where they are 7-1 in these playoffs was hopefully the spark that was required. The Bolts have been giving the Hawks fits with their speed. The Hawks do have their own knockout punch when it comes to their speed as well, but it seems like they have been on their heels for most of the game. There are 22,000 strong waiting to see their beloved Blackhawks at the UC during this Stanley Cup Final.

Ben Bishop did get the start in this one and limped his way to a 3-2 road win in the United Center which puts the Hawks playoff record to 7-2. It was a late goal with 3:11 left in the third period when Cedric Paquette beats Corey Crawford with a low snipe. There was no Cinderella story on this night as the Hawks fall 2-1 in the series giving up home ice advantage. Read more »

Resilient Lightning Tie Series in Game 2

By Chris Block

The 2015 Stanley Cup Final is shifting to United Center in Chicago on Monday with the series tied 1-1 after Tampa Bay bested the Blackhawks 4-3 in front of 19,204 fans at Amalie Arena on Saturday night.

Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Brent Seabrook notched the visitor’s goals, but Tampa was able to put 4 past Corey Crawford, who made 20 saves in an effort Joel Quenneville characterized as “just okay.”

The Blackhawks entered the 3rd period of Game 2 as they did three nights prior in Game 1, trailing Tampa Bay by a goal. Saturday night was following a similar path as Wednesday’s series opener, with Chicago largely dominating the pace of the game in the final twenty minutes of regulation.

Brent Seabrook tied the game at 3:38 of the third when his blast from the top of the point blew by Ben Bishop’s glove hand. Seabrook’s 7th of the postseason put the score at 3-3, but was not without controversy. As the puck closed in on Bishop, Marian Hossa converged on Bishop’s crease as well. Hossa skated toward the crease with his stick pushing into Bishop’s left leg pad. It appeared to be a clear example of goaltender interference, whether intentional or not, but after a brief conversation among the officials, the goal was allowed to stand. Read more »

Setting Forth: Blackhawks Weather the Lightning, Stun Tampa Late to Take 1-0 Series Lead

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks stunned the full house at Amalie Arena in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night. The host Tampa Bay Lightning came out smoking and led for the bulk of the game. However, a pair of late Chicago goals shocked the Lightning, who fell to the Blackhawks 2-1.

Teuvo Teravainen was the catalyst for the third-period comeback, scoring the tying goal and creating the chance for the game-winner with a strong back check. Corey Crawford was outstanding in net, keeping Chicago close until the Hawks could strike behind the heroics of Teravainen.

First Period-The Hawks iced the puck shortly after the opening faceoff. Tampa Bay took advantage, going on the attack. By the time Chicago was called for another icing early in the fourth minute, the Lightning had four shots on net. Read more »