By Brad Gardner
Dave Bolland missed significant time due to injury for the second consecutive regular season, but again proved himself with a strong finish in the playoffs. The center helped key the Blackhawks’ turnaround in their first round series against Vancouver. Bolland earned a goal and three assists in Chicago’s game four win. He finished the postseason tied for the team lead with six points and led the team with a plus-six rating despite playing in only the final four games of the series.
A high elbow from Pavel Kubina knocked Bolland out of the lineup for the final 14 games of the regular season and start of the playoffs, resulting in his second consecutive injury-shortened season. Despite the missed time, the center’s production rebounded from the previous season in which his effectiveness was limited by a back injury. Surgery on the back eventually cost Bolland half of the 2009-10 regular season and he registered a career-low .41 points per game when he was able to play.
Last season, he upped his output to .61 points per game, a notch better than the .59 mark that helped him earn a 5-year, $16.875 million dollar extension in the summer of 2009. It may not be the top-six production that some expected from a former 100-point scorer at the junior level, but Bolland’s reputation has largely been built as a shutdown center capable of throwing the opposition off its game. Read more
By Jon Fromi
In the two seasons Marian Hossa has played in Chicago since signing what is virtually a lifetime contract, he has played in 122 of the Blackhawks’ 164 regular-season contests. Throughout his tenure in the Indian head sweater, Hossa has flashed brilliance to the Blackhawks faithful. In turn, injuries have nagged at the veteran forward from the day he hit town.
Hossa’s success depends on his 32-year-old body’s ability to keep its end of the bargain. Unlike his contract with the Blackhawks, Hossa’s pact with his body has been a shaky one thus far.
Welcome to your thirties, Mr. Hossa. Here’s your pass to the trainer’s room.
Hossa’s health and his ability to make good on the huge financial commitment made by the team is always going to be at the forefront of conversation. Not to be lost is the fact that Chicago still has a hell of a player in Hossa. Read more
By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks had several rookies in their lineup throughout the 2010-11 season. Backup goalie Corey Crawford won most of the raves based on his play down the stretch, but another young man in an Indian head sweater should garner props for his first full season with the Blackhawks.
How about a little respect for forward Bryan Bickell? Read more
By Brad Gardner
Niklas Hjalmarsson will have the third-highest cap hit on the Blackhawks’ blue line during the 2011-12 season, meaning increased expectations for the Swedish defender. Chicago GM Stan Bowman opted to match the offer sheet submitted by San Jose during the summer of 2010, so Hjalmarsson is owed 3.5 million dollars this season and two more seasons.
Originally selected in the 4th round, 108th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Hjalmarsson spent parts of two seasons in Chicago before sticking with the big club full time for the 2009-10 season. He was one of the club’s most dependable blueliners throughout the 2010 Stanley Cup run, finishing third among defensemen with 21 minutes of ice time per night and ranking second with a plus-nine rating in 22 playoff games. Hjalmarsson also finished fourth on the blue line with eight points during the 2010 playoffs, giving a glimpse of the potential two-way defender the organization believes he could be. Read more
Looking to improve depth and add long sought-after grit to the blue line mix, the Blackhawks acquired veteran utility defenseman Steve Montador over the summer.
Stan Bowman traded for Montador on June 29th and signed him less than 24 hours later.
Acquired prior to free agency from Buffalo for the seventh-round pick Bowman received from the Panthers in exchange for Tomas Kopecky’s negotiating rights, Montador inked a deal with Chicago sixteen hours before he was set to hit the open market.
Chicago will mark the defenseman’s sixth team in the last seven seasons.
Set to earn a whopping $4.6 million this season, Montador is the league’s 28th highest-paid defenseman next to Calgary’s Mark Giordano. Since his contract is frontloaded, Montador’s cap hit over the next four years sits at a more manageable $2.75M. Read more
By Jon Fromi
Brent Seabrook enters the 2011-12 campaign with a five-year, $29 million contract in hand. The physical half of the Blackhawks’ top defensive pairing can live up to the terms simply enough. Seabrook just needs to play the game that earned him those big bucks.
Seabrook’s ability to hold up in the long term under the physical play took a hit, literally and figuratively, in the playoffs via the shoulder of Raffi Torres. The Hawks hope Seabrook will erase any lingering doubt as the season gets underway. Read more