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10-06-2003, 03:48 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Palatine
Country: United States
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Teemu's Blackhawks Season Preview

Goal: B-

The Chicago Blackhawks have always been criticised for ourgoaltending after Hasek and Belfour left, but its really not that bad, and frankly, its the least of our worries.

Jocelyn Thibault - How soon we forget this guy was an all-star last year, at the time trailing only Turco in stats. Unfortunately (mostly sue to poor coaching on Sutter's part not giving him any games off) fatigue set in after awhile, and his stats kept slipping and slipping. Sutter promises to use backup goalies this year, so that's a good sign for thibault.

Michael Leighton/Craig Andersson - Will probably split time at the posistion this year, with Leighton seeing the majority of the time. Leighton matured more quickly than we thought he would, and may be on the verge of challenging Thibault in a year or two. In the mean time, he'll be a steady back-up for the hawks.

Defense D-

Hoooooo boy.

Jon Klemm - Still a very strong defenseman, but would be much better suited for a #3/#4 role than as a #1/#2 role. Provides veteran leadership, which will be needed as Babchuk and Kukkonen mature.

Steve Poapst - If there was a rodney dangerfield award in the NHL, youre looking at the winner. Quietly became one of the Hawks best defenders (which again isnt saying too much). The opinion remains that he is an overachiever, and eventually the train will come to a stop. In the meantime, he provides good defensive work and is a symbol of preserverence.

Alexander Karpovtsev - Not a bad defenseman when he's healthy. unfortunately, that is never. Only kyle McLaren is injured more often then he, and alexander tends to take nights off for the most minor things. the best think about krapo is that he's gone after this year. Frankly, the only reason he's ever dressed is that we're too embarressed to scratch a $3 million player.

Nathan Dempsey - Apparently an offensive defenseman, even though he only got 5 goals last year. Easily pushed around, though he tries to play effective defense anyway. He's alright for what we pay him, but he'll never be anything more than a 5th/6th d-man.

Steve McCarthy - Continues to disappoint after all these years. Sutter tends to only play him a few minutes a night, as opposed to krapo, who's getting 20 routinely. Has a good pass and a pretty good shot, but hasnt quite made the leap to the NHL yet.

Deron Quint - Smith is already regretting signing this guy. purely an offensive defenseman, he really sucked in the preseaon. Granted, he's only making half a mil, and would probably be claimed if we waived him, but you get what you pay for, i guess.

Lasse Kukkonen - Fairly impressive at training camp, Kukkonen had a great year in finland last year, leading defensemen in +/- i believe. Still has some skating issues, but will provide to be a good #5 for years to come.

Centers: B-

Yea, trading Niko for nothing didnt help us much here.

Alexei Zhamnov - Would be one of the leagues best #2 centers. I mean, if he was playing #2 center. He's still not good enough to make it as a #1 center or a captain, both of which he is here. His biggest purpose now is helping out youngsters like Radulov and Vorobiev adjust to the NHL. If he wasnt so afraid to shoot, he'd be a great asset. Really, all i ask of him is 20 goals.

Tyler Arnason - The top ROY canidate for most of the year, Arnason put up great numbers that nobody but i predicted . Unfortunately, he wound up with 3rd/4th line minutes at the end of the year (to 'spark' sme offense from our goons), and his numbers flatlined. Will be fighting Ruutu for the 2nd line center, and will probably lose

Tuomo Ruutu - The franchise. His sucess determines a lot about the hawks this year. Sutter has been playing him on the top line with Dazer and Sully, and if he stays there all season, he'll probably run away with the calder. in reality, he'll fight over the 2nd line center posistion, and will still probably be a stong canidate for the award. He gives us everything this team needs, scoring and a TON of grit. Calder or not, he'll probably wind up being the most valuable rookie for his defensive skills, and could see selkes in years to come.

Scott Nichol - Again, you get what you pay for. I actaully wanted us to sign Nichol, since he was good at faceoffs, fast and gritty. Granted, i didnt want him to be the first person Mr Smith called up when free agency started, but what can be done. He's an alright player for the spot he'll be playing.

LW: C+

Fairly strong on this end. Well, at leat with a healthy Daze we are.

Eric Daze - The Silent Sniper will quietly post stellar numbers now that his health has returned, and will play with sully for most of the year. 30-35 goals are realistic, but 40+ is possible.

Kyle Calder - Represents our desparate need for grit. One of my favorite players to watch, he seems to do everything. He'll never eclipse 30 goals or anything, but the defense he provides is invaluable.

Ville Nieminen - Will probably never make it as a top 6 player, but will probably be a staple on our third line. Plays a pretty good 2-way game, though he does tend to take a few bad penalties.

Jason Strudwick - one of those plays that can really help a team, a defensman/forward. Pure utility player, he can be plugged in to stir things up or take the place of an injured player.

Travis Moen - One of the suprises of camp, Moen was a free agent signee off of the calgary system. He's not too much more than a utility player, but he showed a lot of hustle this year at the hawks' training camp, and it earned him a roster spot.


Its gettin kinda crowded in here

Steve Sullivan - Inconsistant, but has a tendency of scoring key goals. If he could overcome consistantsy problems, he'd be a reliable 25-30 goal scorer. Is very fast, and plays with grit, though not overwhelmingly so. One of our best acquisitions in recent years, it amazing we got this guy for free.

Mark Bell - Drafted for his speed, the first thing he did was blow out his knee, and he hasnt been the same since. Still, he's a possible break-out player, and if he puts it all together, he'd make a nice power-forward. Even if he doesnt, he's still one of the toughest players on the team. Will probably be on a line with Ruutu.The kind of line opposing players fear.

Igor Radulov - Very impressive in his cup of coffee last year, it is unknown at this point if he could keep it up. He hasnt been dazzling in training camp or anything, so questions remain there. However, he could wind up being a consistant 20 goal scorer for the next few years

Pavel Vorobiev - Will be fighting fellow countryman Radulov for a good roster spot (well, i guess pael's from kazakistan (sp), but whatever). Very physical for a russian player, he may play on the left side beside Ruutu and Bell, making an uber tough line. He'll probably max out as a 2nd line winger, but thats good enough for me.

Ryan Vandenbussche - One of those players like PJ Stock thats fun to watch, he has no fear of squaring it off with the NHL's toughest enforcers. He's slowly losing his use though, and he is only a part time player now.

Coaching: D-

After taking us to the playoffs a year before, Sutter had a horrible year last year. He never seemed to do anything right. He played Thibault until he almost collapsed, and kept playing lousy veterns over skilled kids. He kept messing with lines, so no one developed any chemistry with anyone, despite how well ABC was performing. One of the biggest obsticles between us and the playoffs.

General Manager: C

Arguably the wost trading GM out there, at least he can draft, which is more than any of our previous GMs can boast. Even though many hawks fans were moaning about how he didnt sign fome veterans this year, i dont think it would have done any good, only further taking away ice time from young players.

Outlook: B+

Youve got to admit its getting better, getting better all the time. From a team of overaged veterans, we reduced it to a team seious about rebuilding, that still has an outside chance of making the playoffs. Now granted, this is only if ruutu, vorobiev, bell etc have great years, in which it isnt likely all of them will have great years, but they'll wind up in a similar spot as last year, perhaps a few spots lower, which is ok, since it'll nab us a better pick. Its hard to look into the future with the new CBA pending, but this team shoudl have some good years ahead of them.

Where I rate them in the league: C-

Pretty damn bad, but not a discrace. Will probably end up somewhere along the lines of 11th in the West.

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