By Chris Block
I’ve been meaning to cook up something of a weekly feature here on the site as a way of producing more regular content. Given Monday is a notable day in this site’s history, I am finally putting that into action now with “Odds and Saads.” My plan is for this to be a late-Sunday night for Monday thing.
The title really is more influenced by The Who album having a good ring to it as this is designed to be a freeform random thoughts and news kind of thing. It’ll mostly be Blackhawks focused, of course, but it will not be bound by Hawks topics.
-Wanted to thank everyone who complimented the podcasts with HockeeNight and The Committed Indian last week.
If you missed it, I was on “Live from the Five Hole” with Sam and Matt from TheCommittedIndian.com site last Friday. My segment was taped Monday night, the 10th.
You can listen to it here. I join the show about 12 minutes in and my portion is about a half hour long. It was mostly a discussion of prospects in Rockford, prospect development and the Brandon Pirri situation. Derek from FearTheFin.com (Sharks site) is on at the 39min mark and Chris Gift from St. Louis Game Time starting at 59:00.
-Blackhawks have a tough back-to-back starting Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The Flyers are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and have climbed into a playoff spot in the Metropolitan division. St. Louis awaits the Hawks on Wednesday night at the UC. The Blues won at home on Monday night, 3-1 over Winnipeg. The win got St. Louis to 101 points on the season.
-St. Louis is 20-0-2 vs Central Division opponents this season.
-The Blues have lost Vladimir Tarasenko for six weeks due to a hand injury.
St. Louis got Vladimir Sobotka back last week. Losing Tarasenko is a blow, but I don’t think people outside of St. Louis (and from talking to people I know down there maybe some fans in St. Louis included) realize how important Sobotka is to the Blues. His presence gives them greater balance and slides everyone in that lineup into their proper place and minutes.
-Brandon Saad (upper body) did not make the trip. He was hit by Niklas Kronwall with about 4:30 remaining in the first period Sunday night versus Detroit. Saad didn’t play the rest of that period but did skate 2:58 of the second period before leaving the game.
-Teuvo Teravainen’s Jokerit team was eliminated from Liiga’s (Finland’s elite league) postseason on Sunday. Teravainen was held off the scoresheet in two games as Jokerit was swept in a best two-of-three play-in round series.
Teravainen’s next move is expected to be joining the Blackhawks. Whether or not he can get into the Blackhawks lineup before the playoffs remains to be seen. The Hawks are right up against the salary cap so they can’t simply add Teravainen to the roster.
Post trade deadline NHL teams can exceed the 23-man roster limit. But the salary cap remains in effect until the playoffs.
There’s also a bit of business the Blackhawks must take care of with Jokerit.
Teravainen signed a three-year contract extension with Jokerit in February of 2012. This deal runs through the completion of the 2014-15 Jokerit season.
It’s a matter of business that isn’t uncommon. However, there is a different wrinkle to this situation. Jokerit is joining the KHL for the 2014-15 season. How Jokerit’s contracts work and how they’ll transfer to the KHL is not something I’m up on. Given history, this is all likely to shake out with Jokerit granting Teravainen a release to make his move to North America hockey, with Jokerit retaining his rights should he choose to remain in Europe next year or go back at some point down the road.
As far as Teravainen’s contract status with the Blackhawks is concerned, he inked his entry-level contract last August.
Since Teravainen signed as a 19 year old, if he does not play in 10 NHL games this season (regular season and/or playoffs) his entry-level contract (ELC) will extend one year from 3 to a 4-year ELC. You’ve probably seen a lot of talk in the past few days, people debating the merits of “burning” a year of Teravainen’s ELC but its more like double jeopardy. Should he get into a few games and then be allowed to play for Finland (should he be selected) in the World Championships, then his ELC would slide and be in place for the next three years. If he plays in 10 or more NHL games before the Hawks are done this season, he’ll just have the two years left.
The slide rule is why the Hawks get the jump on signing junior players before they turn 20 or are ready to turn pro. Brandon Pirri and Jeremy Morin both saw their first contracts extend one year and those deals expire this June.
Teravainen’s base NHL salary is $925,000. According to CapGeek.com, his only eligible bonus this season is his signing bonus, which he received at the time of signing in August. If Teravainen is coming over to play in games this season, then the Hawks only play for the time being (because of cap restrictions) may be to assign him to Rockford until the playoffs.
-Jeremy Morin’s AHL season-best point streak of 13 games (11g 9a) was surpassed last week by Oklahoma City’s Mark Arcobello. The Oilers’ prospect has a 15-game point streak (28 total points) ongoing. Some people may recall Arcobello participated in Blackhawks prospect camp at Johnny’s Ice House while he was still attending Yale University. He started out with OKC on a minor league contract in 2010 and was inked to an ELC with the Oilers in January of 2011. Arcobello played 41 games with the Oilers this season, scoring 4 goals and 14 assists before getting sent down to the Oklahoma City Barons on February 1st. His current point streak began the next day. Arcobello is also the Barons’ all time leading goal and point producer.
-If the Hawks had cap space, I would say there’d be absolutely zero excuse for Morin not being on their roster right now. With Hossa out, and now Saad for an undetermined amount of time, the Hawks could use Morin the way he’s been going the past month and a half.
-Since the start of 2014, Jeremy Morin has 18 goals, 16 assists (34pts) in 29 games with the Rockford IceHogs. Morin posted 2 goals in a wild first period at Milwaukee on Friday night. Rockford lost the game 6-5 in a shootout. Morin has 13 goals over his last 14 games.
-Over the weekend, only 3 of the AHL’s top 10 goal scorers were NOT with their NHL clubs. Jeremy Morin (24 goals, CHI), Luke Adam (26g, BUF) and Zach Boychuk (28g, CAR) were joined by the AHL’s top overall point leader, Travis Morin (29 goals) after Travis Morin (no relation to Jeremy) was returned to Texas by the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Travis Morin played for the Chicago Steel for parts of two seasons (2001-03) before going off to Mankato for school. He’s 30 now and more of a minor league veteran than a potential NHL player.
Luke Adam, 23, has appeared in 10 NHL games this year and 85 overall for his career. A former 2nd round pick (2008, 44th) of the Sabres, Adam has 15 goals and 11 assists in all over his 85 appearances in four NHL seasons. Two seasons ago he skated in 50 games for Buffalo and posted 10 goals and 10 helpers. Adam was nearly a goal per game (49 in 56) in his last year in the QMJHL but even 2-3 years ago he wasn’t viewed as a top-5 Sabres prospect.
Zach Boychuk is a 5-10, 24 year old former 1st round pick of Carolina (2008, 14th overall) who has skated in 94 NHL games, notching 9 goals, 15 assists in the process. Boychuk was taken by the Hurricanes three spots after the ‘Hawks took Kyle Beach. Something I’m sure Jim Rutherford kicks himself over nowadays – Ottawa selected in the position right after Carolina took Boychuk. Ottawa picked up Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson.
-The annual special Future Watch edition of The Hockey News is out. Well, it’s probably been out for over a week now. It only arrived in my mail over the weekend. I’m convinced my mailman reads my THN and delivers it to me a week after the fact.
Teravainen is ranked 3rd of all NHL prospects and the Blackhawks 13th as an organization.
Anyhow, THN ranks the Blackhawks prospects 1-10 in this order:
1-Teuvo Teravainen, 2-Ryan Hartman, 3-Adam Clendening, 4-Brandon Pirri (obviously went to publish prior to March 2nd), 5-Mark McNeill, 6-Kevin Hayes, 7-Joakim Nordstrom, 8-Phillip Danault, 9-Jeremy Morin, 10-Drew LeBlanc.
For reference, THN’s 2013 list was as follows:
1-Brandon Saad, 2-Teuvo Teravainen, 3-Phillip Danault, 4-Mark McNeill, 5-Brandon Pirri, 6-Adam Clendening, 7-Dylan Olsen, 8-Jeremy Morin, 9-Ben Smith, 10-Jimmy Hayes.
A few thoughts…
In putting this list together, THN elicits the input of Blackhawks director of amateur scouting, Mark Kelley. That being noted, Stephen Johns not being apart of the current top-10 is rather intriguing.
It’s funny because the headline for the Blackhawks’ report reads, “Hawks are Centered; Stocked with young pivots, Chicago can start shoring up other positions now.” But it then goes on to accurately note Hartman, Hayes and McNeill have or are expected to be moved to wing positions. And Pirri’s now gone. Nordstrom has an outside chance of making the NHL next year, but Danault and LeBlanc especially are far from locks. So, how exactly is the position shored up? If Teravainen becomes a star down the road then its not a tremendous concern but there isn’t a line of guys at that position you can bet on being NHL regulars a year or two from now. Heck, a year ago this is the organization that put Jimmy Hayes at center looking to improve its depth.
I don’t care for LeBlanc being on the list ahead of Klas Dahlbeck or Johns.
I’ve watched a decent amount of Boston College games recently. I think with how some view St. Louis Blues’ players, people watching Kevin Hayes would find it more appropriate if he were a Blues’ prospect than a Hawks.
Danault falling five spots from last year is no surprise. As noted many times, Danault has been the victim of a logjam down the middle in Rockford. Nordstrom started the season in Chicago at LW, and stayed there for a few weeks once he got to Rockford, but he’s been at center ever since. Once Pirri got sent back to the AHL in December, Danault’s ice time suffered. He caught a stick in the eyeball soon after and that cost him a couple of weeks. He’s spent a lot of time the past two months on the fourth line with LeBlanc centering. All that said, Danault’s been unable to do much offensively and that’s on him. He’s been a regular member of the IceHogs’ penalty kill, though. And Danault has been on the ice for just 20 of the 72 power play (excluding empty net ppgs) goals scored against the ‘Hogs. A strong finish to the season would be nice to see, and next year will be huge for him.
-THN’s 2010 Blackhawks Future Watch rankings: 1-Jack Skille, 2-Corey Crawford, 3-Kyle Beach, 4-Bryan Bickell, 5-Akim Aliu, 6-Marcus Kruger, 7-Dylan Olsen, 8-Shawn Lalonde, 9-Bill Sweatt, 10-Brandon Pirri.
-THN’s 2009 Blackhawks Future Watch rankings: 1-Jack Skille, 2-Kyle Beach, 3-Niklas Hjalmarsson, 4-Corey Crawford, 5-Akim Aliu, 6-Shawn Lalonde, 7-Bill Sweatt, 8-Evan Brophey, 9-Igor Makarov, 10-Joe Fallon.
-Mark Kelley (Blackhawks director of amateur scouting) in The Hockey News Future Watch issue out now on Mark McNeill:
“It’s his first year as a pro. It’s a learning year. He does compete and battle, but consistency is his issue. With his size and skating, he can win battles along the boards. We need to get a physical element out of his game on a regular basis.”
-Same issue, Mark Kelley on Brandon Pirri, “He and (Patrick) Kane have great chemistry. The puck finds [Pirri].” And to the talk of Pirri’s 200 foot game, Kelley complimented Pirri’s work. “He put on 20 to 25 pounds of muscle since he was drafted and his play on the other side of the ice has improved. His playmaking ability is his strength.”
-Jason LaBarbera is 12-6-2-2 in Rockford. He has a 2.86 GAA and 90.8% save percentage.
In his losses, LaBarbera’s save percentage is 88.4%. In wins, 93.0%.
-Rockford is currently in their quietest stretch of the season – 1 game in a 12 day span.
The weekend ahead sees the IceHogs and Wolves in a home-and-home beginning Friday night in Rosemont. The teams meet again Saturday night in Rockford.
Rockford slid to 8th in the Western Conference after this weekend’s action as some other teams caught up on their games in hand on the ‘Hogs. Oklahoma City sits in 9th, now 3 points behind Rockford with the same number of games played (63). Charlotte is in 10th and trail the IceHogs by 4 points in the standings. Charlotte does have a game in hand on Rockford still. At this point, with 13 games remaining in Rockford’s season, it’s the IceHogs playoff spot to lose now. Though, they do need to put their recent skid to bed quickly.
Rockford is 1-3-1-1 in their last six games.
-Leave it to Pat Foley to use last Monday night’s near tragic Rich Peverley incident in Dallas as a way to pump the Blackhawks’ tires and shine John McDonough’s behind.
I overlook a lot of Foley’s missteps on game calls and such, but Foley’s diatribe on the Hawks-Avs broadcast 24 hours after Peverley’s on-bench heart attack was truly cringe-worthy.
And I like Foley. He’s a nice guy. In the times I’ve met him he’s always been really nice to me or anyone I’m with. But this particular performance on the March 4th broadcast must be addressed.
Foley started the second period talking about how he saw Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff talking about the incident. Ruff was recounting how the scene played out in front of him and how he and others were yelling for a doctor or paramedic.
So Foley, I can only guess because he’s so insecure in his job, goes on to boast how the Blackhawks are allegedly one of just two NHL teams who travel with their team doctor.
“When John McDonough came in (to the Blackhawks organization)… he had a 1,000 questions and that was one of them,” Foley remarked.
Regardless, the fact is a physician was near the Dallas Stars bench and was able to get to Peverley quickly. Those doctors “saved his life,” as Peverley himself said in his first public statement the next day.
Foley’s portrayal of what happened in Dallas was blindly misleading and reckless.
It’s a wonder no one from the Hawks watching, or someone in the CSN truck didn’t patch into Foley’s ear and ask him to drop it. It was simply not the time – way too soon.
Play resuming interrupted Foley’s speech soon after it began. But then Foley came back to it in a stoppage with 11:12 left in the second period. Someone needed to tell Foley to stuff it because the Hawks and Comcast Sports Net (which Rocky Wirtz is part owner of) really came off poorly here. The lack of self-awareness in this case was deafening it was so bad.
The Hawks as an organization have appeared to be tone deaf to this sort of thing, so I wasn’t shocked it made the air. And it was obvious Foley had it set up with the producer coming out of the first intermission because the producer had a camera focused on Dr. Michael Terry as Foley started his rant.
If he feels he must butter John McDonough’s ego then I’d advised Foley to wait a few weeks, don’t mention the Peverley incident at all and talk all he wants about how well taken care of the Hawks players are by the team’s medical staff. That’s fine. But that routine Foley pulled on the broadcast 3/4/14 was just plain ignorant and made the organization look bad.
-Monday marks seven years for TheThirdManIn.com. I’ve told the story of how the site came to be many times on our podcast. The reason I remember every year is because I spent most of St. Patrick’s Day that year contemplating potential URLs and site names as well as thinking building a web site with no experience or basic knowledge of how to do so was no big deal. My general stubbornness to ask or pay someone to assist me in the process did me no favors either. The site did go live that night and I relieved a lot of stress at the bar that night. I don’t think TTMI got a hit for at least a week. Those first three years of content were lost in my ill-advised decision to join a “blog” network. Anyway, I do want to thank everyone who visits here, reads or listens to our radio shows. I don’t know how much longer I’ll do this. I imagine if some things in my life were different I wouldn’t be. I was 28 when I started writing about the Hawks. I think I’ll always write about hockey in some form but my work schedule at times has made maintaining and managing the site really difficult especially since maintaining a social life away from work and hockey is something I’ve been more adamant about than in the early years and back when I used to cover wrestling and mixed martial arts. In any event, I don’t say it enough but I am especially blown away by the amount of people who listen to the podcasts and the feedback I get from those. It amazes me since I don’t self-promote and most of the time I don’t know for sure we’re doing one until the day of. I wish I could do more. Thanks again and always.