Cullimore to Germany, Saad declines invite, Hawks cap position


Jassen Cullimore
will skate in Germany this season.

On Monday, Cullimore signed with the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL).  Cullimore will join the team for training camp next month.  The Roosters’ season begins on September 16.  He joins goaltender Manny Legace and former Rockford IceHogs’ defenseman Prestin Ryan on the Iserlohn team.  Iserlohn [IEC] missed the playoffs last season and finished 12th out of 14 DEL teams.  Cullimore turns 39 in December.

While re-signing Cullimore was never a sure-thing, this does leave an important hole on the IceHogs’ defense.

Right now their top five is Ryan Stanton, Brian Connelly, Joe Lavin, Dylan Olsen and Shawn Lalonde.  With the exception of Stanton, Rockford’s defense, as currently constructed, is at best modest in their responsibilities south of the offensive blue line.  Simon Danis-Pepin is in the mix as well, but his skating was still barely AHL-level in April.  Rockford will need a veteran shut-down defenseman.  Connelly can now be considered a vet on the offensive side, but he can’t mind Lalonde in the defensive zone and you really shouldn’t count on Olsen to do that just yet, at least to start the season.  Stanton and Connelly was a favored pair in the second half last season but Stanton may slide down with Lalonde.  Lavin might have to be the Hogs’ ace in the hole.  Garnet Exelby will play in Grand Rapids this year, leaving the team captaincy open again too.  Ivan Vishnevskiy won’t be back.  I suppose the Hawks could try to send John Scott here (after all, if the team is healthy, he has no place to play in Chicago) to get his minutes in wait for an injury or two on the Chicago blue line, but that’s no guarantee.  There’s still work to be done here.  Exelby wasn’t signed to a PTO until the day before Rockford’s season began last year.  But that was also a reaction to Cullimore making the Blackhawks’ opening night roster and being there until mid-January, which wasn’t anticipated.  A slow start is what doomed Rockford last season in a stacked division.  The league starts out fast, so this aspect of the team cannot be overlooked.

–Stan Bowman says he’s “probably” starting the season with around $4.0M in available cap space.  [Adam Jahns, Sun-Times]

The story also confirms the approximate cap penalty of $100,000 the Hawks will see this coming season attributed to bonuses due Viktor Stalberg and Michael Frolik last season.  Nick Leddy, according to Capgeek.com, did not have bonuses structured into the initial year of his three-year entry-level contract.

It should be noted that last season’s $4.1M cap penalty was mostly due to performances bonuses due Kane and Toews, more the latter specifically for winning the Conn Smythe.

If you figure Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith into things, right now the Hawks have 24 guys on the NHL roster, one more than allowable.  Subtract one or the other and Bowman is right about at his four million in cap space projection.

That’s with Rostislav Olesz figured too, and we don’t even know at this point if he’ll be healthy in time for opening night if he’s even in the plans.  Bowman will need to conserve some of that cap space throughout the year for Nick Leddy; Smith and Kruger if they make the team or potentially Jeremy Morin or the long-shot odds of Kyle Beach and Dylan Olsen.  There is no cap bonus-cushion in the final year of the CBA.  Meaning, its essentially a “hard” cap and all bonuses figure into each player’s official cap number whether earned or not and teams can never eclipse the $64.3M upper limit.

–Brandon Saad is having an interesting summer.  First he slipped out of the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft he was projected to be taken on nearly every mock draft board to the Blackhawks into the middle of the second round at #43 overall.  Two weeks later, Saad had a decent, but unspectacular prospect camp at Johnny’s IceHouse West.

Since, Saad has declined an invitation to attend Team USA’s World Junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, NY from August 6-13.  Chris Peters at the United States of Hockey blog adds a couple notes to this particular Saad news here.

I have no idea what to make of it either.  We’ll no doubt find out in time.  If he’s at Blackhawks training camp in September (and I don’t foresee any reason he wouldn’t), I’d hope the topic would be broached then.  Perhaps he has an injury, but if that were the case, USA Hockey would simply report so and announce a replacement.  Or one would think as it’s been done before.  As Peters notes in his piece, Saad was one of Team USA’s final cuts to the WJC 2011 team.

Saad currently skates in the Ontario Junior Hockey League for the Saginaw Spirit.  Coincidentally, the other U.S. born player who declined an invitation to next month’s camp is six-foot eight defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, the Dallas Stars’ 2011 first round draft pick.  Yesterday, Oleksiak officially announced he was leaving Northeastern University to join the Saginaw Spirit.  Oleksiak is a dual-citizen and is expected now to play for Team Canada in this year’s WJC tournament.

Without Saad, the Blackhawks already have five prospects attending next month’s U.S. evaluation camp.  Goaltender Mac Carruth (7th Rd, 2010, Portland Winterhawks); defenseman Adam Clendening (2nd Rd, 2011-Boston University Terriers), Justin Holl (2nd Rd, 2010, Minnesota Golden Gophers) and Stephen Johns (2nd Rd, 2010, Notre Dame Fighting Irish); and forward Kevin Hayes (1st Rd, 2010, Boston College Eagles).

There are a few other Chicago area products contending for roster spots.  Defenseman Robbie Russo of Westmont (NYI, 4th rd 2011); forward Michael Mersch of Park Ridge and the Wisconsin Badgers (LAK, 4th rd 2011); and Notre Dame sophomore and Orland Park native, center T.J. Tynan (CBJ, 3rd rd, 2011).

Toews and Bolland placed in this top-25 NHL center ranking [Yahoo!]

The Dallas Morning News asks – Can Adam Burish play a careful game and be effective?

The new Winnipeg Jets unveiled their logos on Friday.  I suppose its all apropos for a team named the Jets.  Simply looks to me like the Esso and Air Canada designs spliced together.

Steve Sullivan excited to be “reliable top nine” player on the Penguins [Daily Press]

Huge arbitration hearings over the next eight days.  Ryan Callahan (NYR) on Thursday, Jannik Hansen (not huge – VAN) on Friday, Shea Weber next Tuesday and Zach Parise on August 3.

This is actually a big deal if street hockey is pushed harder come spring time.  NHL and Franklin renewed their partnership for another 20 years.  There are plenty of year-round indoor floor hockey leagues around the metropolitan Chicago area.  But the trick is getting people to try it out on their own or in the driveway with their kids first.  Those are your grassroots.  Those who are inclined to play ice hockey are there and will always be drawn to it.  Ice rinks, men’s leagues and youth organizations didn’t disappear from 1998-2007.  The area actually grew in major youth programs during that time.  But to truly grow the game through the masses, the league must convince new fans and the general audience that playing street or ball hockey is ‘cool’ too.

If you’re website’s is full of assholes, it’s your fault.

TheThirdManIn@sbcglobal.net

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One Response to Cullimore to Germany, Saad declines invite, Hawks cap position

  1. There is a VERY good kids floor hockey league in Alsip that has divisions from instructional ages, up to 15. I grew up playing there, and coached there for 12 years. Great cost effective alternative to get your kid involved in hockey.

    http://www.southwestballhockey.com

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