With the recent trade of the newly acquired Marty Reasoner, the Chicago Blackhawks have begun the process of filling a roster that has been in question.
While the Blackhawks do acquire Jeff Taffe, it is a fair assumption that he will start with the Rockford Ice Hogs, the AHL affiliate of the Blackhawks.
The transaction allowed for another $600,000 to be possibly used in bargaining with Antti Niemi.
An arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday, July 29th.
While Blackhawks’ fans wait, what has gone overshadowed is how the roster has begun to take shape for the opening of the 2010-11 season.
One thing certain is that Jake Dowell will center the fourth line come October.
Dowell has played with the Ice Hogs since the 2007-08 season, but has had opportunities with the Blackhawks at times.
A Wisconsin native and University of Wisconsin graduate, he will bring a six foot frame that will provide the needed depth in the face-off circle.
Amongst other notable prospects in the system it is obvious that Jack Skille will join Dowell at the NHL level. Skille recently signed a cap-friendly deal that would allow the 23 year old a better chance at making the NHL squad.
Being very familiar with eachother they will bring a unique sense of comardarie to an already close-knit team.
Dowell and Skille have not only served as teammates in Rockford, but also served as teammates with the Wisconsin Badgers. There they played part of a 2006 National Championship squad, so success isn’t foreign to both.
Beyond the Badger duo, there are many other previous question marks that have been addressed.
Being cap stricken, means the Blackhawks will likely assume a 21-man roster.
While not giving much wiggle room for injury, the Blackhawks will most likely give John Scott at least an opportunity to begin the season. Scott brings monsterous size, but most of all the unique ability to play a winger position as well.
While not being an established power forward like the ex-Blackhawk, Dustin Byfuglien, he sure provides the power on both defense and on the fore-check.
With the huge defenseman possibly serving as a fill-in on a nightly basis, many are left to wonder who fills out the third defensive pairing.
The answer would be Shawn LaLonde and Jordan Hendry.
LaLonde, a young prospect, looked very smooth during prospects’ camp. While many argue he is a year or two from being ideal NHL caliber, the time is now for opportunity.
With the attached $773,333 salary cap hit, that may be the sole reason Lalonde is kept in Rockford other than experience arguments.
While some like the possibilities of Brian Connelley, a $875,000 salary cap number will surely keep him an Ice Hog.
The latter half (Hendry) of the assumed pair is yet to be re-signed.
Many assume this will be dealt with once the decision of Niemi is made.
Last year Hendry made $625,000, but with an understanding of the current cap strains it ideally makes sense that Hendry would resign for similar.
Hendry has bounced between the Blackhawks and the Ice Hogs over the past three years. Last year served as a major stepping stone in production as Hendry became much more of a dependable asset to the organization.
While playing primarily on the third line pairing, Hendry was able to gain the much needed experience throughout the season.
Understandingly the idea of Hendry and LaLonde serving as a pair on the NHL level doesn’t make for much reassurance.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see mixing and matching amongst the second and third pairings in the beginning of the season. With the progress Niklas Hjalmarsson showed under Campbell, could we perhaps see the same with LaLonde?
All understandably will be made more clearly by Friday at the very latest. Though the arbitration date approaches, look for the Blackhawks to make a move sooner judging by recent cap clearing transactions.
The season slowly approaches, but what can be said is that the Blackhawks are focused on winning.
Obviously the skeptics remain strong regarding how the organization can produce as it did last season. What can be said is that if the Blackhawks organization was truly in cap-cutting mode there are moves out there that could have facilitated this process.
Instead of trading and moving on, Stan Bowman has done the direct opposite.
The “core” players of the organization are here to stay.
Not only proving through transactions already made, but Bowman has even gone to the extent of making statement saying players like Niklas Hjalmarsson and Patrick Sharp will remain Blackhawks.
How does that sit for the rumor mills?
The last organization to be in question should be the Chicago Blackhawks. It seems the front office knows exactly what they want to do and so far they have been dead on.