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Justin Lowe
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Toronto, ON
Joined: 10.31.2017

Jan 9 @ 9:47 AM ET
Justin Lowe: Areas of Improvement
I posed the question last blog: Have Colliton and Bowman Turned Things Around in Chicago?

Since then, I've had some good conversations on Twitter and here on the messages boards regarding where this team is at.

Here are some areas of improvement that I've narrowed down.
SoftServe
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 01.19.2016

Jan 9 @ 10:01 AM ET
First!
resqmed99
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Joined: 06.18.2007

Jan 9 @ 10:04 AM ET
First!
- SoftServe

Everytime I see your avatar, I wonder why you have a picture of a young Michael Kostka?
CanOCorn
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: The OP, IL
Joined: 04.03.2013

Jan 9 @ 10:11 AM ET
Excellent post Justin...

Out of curiosity...who would YOU bring in if you were GM? Do you have players in mind? Who would you ship out?

You don't have to make trade scenarios...just thinking I would trade Player A and sign Player B.
TheTrob
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Oak Park, IL
Joined: 04.14.2010

Jan 9 @ 10:26 AM ET
....There are still times off the rush and when the Hawks scramble in their own zone that leaves me wondering how the hell certain players are professional hockey players.....
- Justin Lowe


Justin, this is a great point, however it is not solely a Hawks problem.

I watch a lot of Hockey outside of just the NHL, a lot of youth hockey, AAA and Jr's. What always surprises me is that while we have moved into a day and age where there are some extremely talented players from the physical side of the equation, there is a HUGE gap when compared to the mental side of the game.

I see kids who have all the physical tools when it comes to size, skating, shooting, etc., but can't seem to ever grasp the simplest concepts of how to play the game correctly. Basic concepts like getting pucks in deep, picking up the right men in defensive coverage, making passes to proper areas of the ice, the list goes on.

As we all know the physical maturity of kids happens at different ages. Coaches do them a disservice by allowing the more physically mature and/or gifted players to dominate without regard to playing the game within the proper structure or teaching them the finer points.
Savetheembers33
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 01.23.2017

Jan 9 @ 10:30 AM ET
I agree with you JL. I think there is a way in which this team with many of the pieces it does have, can get back to being a legit Playoff contending team once again. Gonna take some work by Stan, BUT as much as we hate him for some of the moves he's made, he's shown he can make some really good ones as well with the Strome and Perlini trades he made. Also the Hossa salary dump got us Entwhistle who looked great during the juniors.

Whether or not Crow can come back could be a huge factor into how quickly this team can get back to the Playoffs though. I think everyone would agree that if we had a 100% healthy Crow with Delia backing him up going into next year we would have almost zero worries about the net, but if Crow can't play and they need to LTIR him then it gets a little more shaky. I think we all feel very good about Delia and his future as a possible starter or at least a backup for the Hawks, but then who do they get to pair with him? Mike Smith or Cam Talbot on a one year deal? Neither have been great but have shown they can play well at times and could be signed fairly cheap. This is the major question mark on this team going into next year.
Logan Reilly
Chicago Blackhawks
Joined: 01.09.2019

Jan 9 @ 10:36 AM ET
Hello Justin. I am one of the long time lurkers here. Always enjoyed your thoughts here. Im from Western Canada and also the realist. Lol

Anyhow just furthering your point aboot sparkplug. I ve been saying this too as i sense the dressing room needs a loudmouth in it. It gets players going. Kane used to say Shaw would never shut up. I think it explains why the Hawks most times come out slow in the game and seem to get going halfway thru the 1st period.
Justin Lowe
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Toronto, ON
Joined: 10.31.2017

Jan 9 @ 10:38 AM ET
Hello Justin. I am one of the long time lurkers here. Always enjoyed your thoughts here. Im from Western Canada and also the realist. Lol

Anyhow just furthering your point aboot sparkplug. I ve been saying this too as i sense the dressing room needs a loudmouth in it. It gets players going. Kane used to say Shaw would never shut up. I think it explains why the Hawks most times come out slow in the game and seem to get going halfway thru the 1st period.

- Logan Reilly


Welcome Logan. Post more!

Whereabouts are you in Western Canada?

I'm with you. Recent stories I've read and heard have the Hawks players in the room loving the Burish/Shaw types. More of this please!
SoftServe
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 01.19.2016

Jan 9 @ 10:43 AM ET
Everytime I see your avatar, I wonder why you have a picture of a young Michael Kostka?
- resqmed99


Haha, that's the Cat though ! He turns from kitty to lion with his facial hair after a deep tournament run.
nickmo2699
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: IL
Joined: 01.06.2012

Jan 9 @ 10:44 AM ET
JL, great write up, pretty spot on! A couple things stood out:

-Team Speed: I went to the game here in Dallas and honestly, I think the Hawks look faster this year then they have in the last 10 years. Kahun, Kampf and Perlini all can motor and even that Toews guy has played with great jump this year. Defensively outside of Seabs the Turtle, we are pretty quick as well. I think our speed as a team can always get better, but I think it's better than in the past.

-Physicality: Martinsen and Hayden have the skating ability to be in the line-up. They need to be locked in a room and forced to watch Tom Wilson and Big Buff (as a forward) highlights til they pass out!
Savetheembers33
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 01.23.2017

Jan 9 @ 10:47 AM ET
Since Justin mentioned it and I happened to come across it, one name to keep an eye out for is Sergei Andronov. Haven't heard anything about him being connected to the Hawks in any way, but there's talk he could be coming over from the KHL next year and could get a salary in the 1-2M range as he's drawing interest from several NHL teams. He's not an offensive guy, but has been an elite faceoff man and capable defensive Center who can kill penalties. Could be a guy to keep an eye out for as a 4C if they plan to play Kampf as the 3C and trade AA at some point.
breadbag
Location: Edmonton, AB
Joined: 11.30.2015

Jan 9 @ 10:49 AM ET
I was going to highlight those shot differentials the other day, when looking at the recent surge of the Hawks. It is a lot of the metrics the Hawks are still near the bottom of the NHL at 5v5. They've been winning because they are playing a bit better, but a lot of it is goaltending and powerplay. I think it boils down to the Hawks playing with the lead (which is good) but not being a team that is strong enough to suppress the surge or push back from the opposing team. Top contending teams will typically just continue to push the advantage but the Hawks are more of a team that has to weather the storm. They have difficulty dictating the play. If the other team doesn't have the foot on the gas, the Hawks can take advantage.

I'm glad JC has gotten the team mostly on the same page, because those first games after the coaching change were so hard to watch. It sounds like the Hawks are giving him a fair shake (he isn't being just thrown to the wolves and then canned) and time to get his NHL coaching legs.

Stan can help him out if he makes some smart moves. We've got about 6 1/2 weeks until the trade deadline and Stan should be busy trying to improve the team. It will be nearly 2 years since the retool/rebuild really started (after that Nashville series) and I think the Hawks have to stick with the plan and let other GMs make the knee jerk mistakes. I think that Stan can continue to unload some baggage (like AA) and maybe get a bit more depth in the system.

StLBravesFan
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: IL
Joined: 07.03.2011

Jan 9 @ 10:51 AM ET
Justin, this is a great point, however it is not solely a Hawks problem.

I watch a lot of Hockey outside of just the NHL, a lot of youth hockey, AAA and Jr's. What always surprises me is that while we have moved into a day and age where there are some extremely talented players from the physical side of the equation, there is a HUGE gap when compared to the mental side of the game.

I see kids who have all the physical tools when it comes to size, skating, shooting, etc., but can't seem to ever grasp the simplest concepts of how to play the game correctly. Basic concepts like getting pucks in deep, picking up the right men in defensive coverage, making passes to proper areas of the ice, the list goes on.

As we all know the physical maturity of kids happens at different ages. Coaches do them a disservice by allowing the more physically mature and/or gifted players to dominate without regard to playing the game within the proper structure or teaching them the finer points.

- TheTrob


How about lack of development time in the AHL....

Salary considerations say bring up young talent early to keep the more cost controlled longer. They come up before they’ve learned how to really play the pro game - or, if coming from Europe, before really learning how to play on N.A. ice.

Jokes are made every time AdB scores that he needs time in Rockford - well, probably (IMO) it would have been time well spent - and he would be a better, more complete hockey player. Others, too.

I know I’ve sounding this refrain often before, but I wish there were some way to get these guys two years at Rockford and othe AHL stops.
oldduffman
Chicago Blackhawks
Joined: 11.06.2013

Jan 9 @ 10:52 AM ET
Hey I am always optimistic when it comes o the HAWKS .And I believe tonight is a great measuring stick game for this team .Preds are healthy playing good hockey ,HAWKS are at home playing some of their best hockey this year . Really interested in how they come out and play tonight .
On the net situation if and when we drop out of the race ,it may already have happen I guess .Even I must admit it a pretty steep clime back in . Ward has done a better then expected job n my opinion ,there are teams looking and he may fetch a 3 or 4th pick if he willing big if .
Great wright up Justin as always, really respect and enjoy the job you do putting this out for us the unwashed masses Thanks .
Big game tonight can't wait ..GO HAWKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chunk
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Orange, CA
Joined: 11.06.2015

Jan 9 @ 10:57 AM ET
Welcome Logan. Post more!

Whereabouts are you in Western Canada?

I'm with you. Recent stories I've read and heard have the Hawks players in the room loving the Burish/Shaw types. More of this please!

- Justin Lowe


Wasn't Hartman supposed to be the next agitator on this team? I'm all for the concept as long as they play more like Shaw and less like Burish. Burish was good defensively, but didn't add much in the O-zone.
oldduffman
Chicago Blackhawks
Joined: 11.06.2013

Jan 9 @ 10:57 AM ET
I think if you watched the world junior games over the holidays ,that the new NHL we have to look forward in two to five years to, like it or not .I believe Stan has a good handle on that by the number of kids he had there playing prominent roles for their teams ..
matt_ahrens
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: San Carlos, CA
Joined: 06.30.2014

Jan 9 @ 11:00 AM ET
Maybe this comment would have been better for the last blog but here goes: I'm not quite ready to say that JC and the Blackhawks have turned things around, but they have definitely stopped getting worse! For a while there it felt like a free fall. Guys seem over Q getting the boot and are onboard with JC's approach. The mental mistakes now seem more based on individuals' hockey-sense than learning a new system. The effort / giveacrap level is noticeably higher than it was. That's all a positive trend. It's a young roster that's going to get younger if AA, Kruger, Kunitz, Keith, and/or Seabrook get moved. Guys need to develop, get consistent, get that winning attitude. It's going to be a process. Having a solid draft and some key free agents and they'll be back in the playoffs hunt next season. In the meantime, they are more fun to watch now than a month ago. I'm curious to see what Caggiula brings to the table. Does he have a little Andrew Shaw in him? It seem like he might.
oldduffman
Chicago Blackhawks
Joined: 11.06.2013

Jan 9 @ 11:03 AM ET
How about lack of development time in the AHL....

Salary considerations say bring up young talent early to keep the more cost controlled longer. They come up before they’ve learned how to really play the pro game - or, if coming from Europe, before really learning how to play on N.A. ice.

Jokes are made every time AdB scores that he needs time in Rockford - well, probably (IMO) it would have been time well spent - and he would be a better, more complete hockey player. Others, too.

I know I’ve sounding this refrain often before, but I wish there were some way to get these guys two years at Rockford and othe AHL stops.

- StLBravesFan

I agree but no teams are really doing that anymore .Bettman and his hard cap have made that next to imposable .
Justin Lowe
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Toronto, ON
Joined: 10.31.2017

Jan 9 @ 11:04 AM ET
Excellent post Justin...

Out of curiosity...who would YOU bring in if you were GM? Do you have players in mind? Who would you ship out?

You don't have to make trade scenarios...just thinking I would trade Player A and sign Player B.

- CanOCorn


Oh geeze. That's a loaded question. ha.

Obviously this team isn't where it needs to be so some people gotta go and the depth needs to be upgraded severely.

I'm thinking (in no particular order):

OUT

* Anisimov - nice player but his time and contract has come to an end in Chicago. He's been playing well as of late and hoping Stan can move him at the deadline. I wouldn't expect much of a return but shedding more salary would be key.

* Kruger - unless he wants to resign at league minimum as a 12th/13th forward. He could be moved at the deadline for AHL help, low-end prospect/pick.

* Seabrook - not happening and I don't think Stan should include a guy like Dylan Sikura just to rid him from the team like he would have in years past. If Seabs stays, Colliton is going to have to have a tough offseason/training camp conversation with Brent to basically tell him he's a 6th-7th dman at this point.

* ANYONE that doesn't buy in or want to be on this team - the reason I say this is if Duncan Keith calls up Stan and says... "it's been fun, but I need to be closer to my kid out west, can you help me out?" then I'm ok with that if Stan can make the right move. I love Keith, but maybe he's ready to move on. That goes for others as well.


IN


* Elite Forward - the Hawks need to jump on one of these forwards who will be available. Guys like - Panarin, Stone, Duchene, Skinner, etc. Even a guy that might come a bit "cheaper" but could be a great fit in the top 6 with Kane like Jordan Eberle.

* Sandpaper/Character/Sparkplugs - I would take a guy like Michael Ferland or Wayne Simmonds for higher-end guys of this nature. A guy like Brandan Tanev on the lower end $$ would be great as well. The Hawks may need to trade for one of these types of players... think MB wants to deal Shaw back? Hawks have space.

* Defence help - let's be honest the Mitchel/Boqvist/Beaudin train should be slowed down and IMO there is a need to still add potentially to this group unless guys like Dahstrom and Forsling are the real deal. Give me a Anton Stralman (who is a UFA) type guy to help stabilize this group.

* Goaltending (?) - this one is a maybe as I alluded to in the blog. If Crawford is done or needs time, the Hawks can't wait. I know everyone loves Delia (myself included) but we have to be realistic that he isn't an automatic #1 goalie after wait, 10 NHL starts?


Chunk
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Orange, CA
Joined: 11.06.2015

Jan 9 @ 11:21 AM ET
Justin, I'm going to go against a couple things you said (while staying in the same ballpark):

1) Regardless of how he worded it, yes, Stan will be doing everything that he can to get rid of "superfluous" players. In my eyes that would be AA, Hayden, Kruger, Forsling.

2) I'm going to disagree about goaltending regardless of the Corey situation. The last time the Hawks went after a big time goalie was Khabibulin (I guess you could throw in Huet, but I think that was more of a prayer). Since then they've used guys like Turco, Emery, Raanta, and Darling to fill in the spaces. Turco and Emery were brought in before Crow had really proven anything. I think they will continue this trend and stay with younger goalies and a possible "fill-in".

3) Regarding the depth of skaters and the pipeline, I always cringe when I hear someone say "there are no Duncan Keith's on the farm". How do you know? Duncan Keith wasn't Duncan Keith until he came up and developed. Dahlstrom is a perfect example. No one thought he was more than an AHL player and now he is easily one of the top defensive blueliners we have. I'm not saying we have to be all rosy-eyed about our prospects, but Colliton being our HC changes a few things now (IMO).

Thanks for the write-up. Love the continued discussion!
matt_ahrens
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: San Carlos, CA
Joined: 06.30.2014

Jan 9 @ 11:23 AM ET
Oh geeze. That's a loaded question. ha.

Obviously this team isn't where it needs to be so some people gotta go and the depth needs to be upgraded severely.

I'm thinking (in no particular order):

OUT

* Anisimov - nice player but his time and contract has come to an end in Chicago. He's been playing well as of late and hoping Stan can move him at the deadline. I wouldn't expect much of a return but shedding more salary would be key.

* Kruger - unless he wants to resign at league minimum as a 12th/13th forward. He could be moved at the deadline for AHL help, low-end prospect/pick.

* Seabrook - not happening and I don't think Stan should include a guy like Dylan Sikura just to rid him from the team like he would have in years past. If Seabs stays, Colliton is going to have to have a tough offseason/training camp conversation with Brent to basically tell him he's a 6th-7th dman at this point.

* ANYONE that doesn't buy in or want to be on this team - the reason I say this is if Duncan Keith calls up Stan and says... "it's been fun, but I need to be closer to my kid out west, can you help me out?" then I'm ok with that if Stan can make the right move. I love Keith, but maybe he's ready to move on. That goes for others as well.


IN


* Elite Forward - the Hawks need to jump on one of these forwards who will be available. Guys like - Panarin, Stone, Duchene, Skinner, etc. Even a guy that might come a bit "cheaper" but could be a great fit in the top 6 with Kane like Jordan Eberle.

* Sandpaper/Character/Sparkplugs - I would take a guy like Michael Ferland or Wayne Simmonds for higher-end guys of this nature. A guy like Brandan Tanev on the lower end $$ would be great as well. The Hawks may need to trade for one of these types of players... think MB wants to deal Shaw back? Hawks have space.

* Defence help - let's be honest the Mitchel/Boqvist/Beaudin train should be slowed down and IMO there is a need to still add potentially to this group unless guys like Dahstrom and Forsling are the real deal. Give me a Anton Stralman (who is a UFA) type guy to help stabilize this group.

* Goaltending (?) - this one is a maybe as I alluded to in the blog. If Crawford is done or needs time, the Hawks can't wait. I know everyone loves Delia (myself included) but we have to be realistic that he isn't an automatic #1 goalie after wait, 10 NHL starts?

- Justin Lowe


You're hired! You'd need to figure out who the other bottom six center is but that's easy enough.

It might not be long until Kane and Toews and Saad are the only ones left on the team who won a Cup with the Blackhawks.
TheTrob
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Oak Park, IL
Joined: 04.14.2010

Jan 9 @ 11:28 AM ET
I agree but no teams are really doing that anymore .Bettman and his hard cap have made that next to imposable .
- oldduffman


This is a great point. The Cap has made it necessary to try and win while the young guys are on their ELC's or bridge deals. TOR will experience that pain next year and have some tough decisions, EDM is already having issues with McDavid and Draisaitl drawing huge salaries and they are no-where near being competitive, TBL are pretty well situated but will have a few tough choices coming up after this season and next.

CanOCorn
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: The OP, IL
Joined: 04.03.2013

Jan 9 @ 11:32 AM ET
Oh geeze. That's a loaded question. ha.

Obviously this team isn't where it needs to be so some people gotta go and the depth needs to be upgraded severely.

I'm thinking (in no particular order):

OUT

* Anisimov - nice player but his time and contract has come to an end in Chicago. He's been playing well as of late and hoping Stan can move him at the deadline. I wouldn't expect much of a return but shedding more salary would be key.

* Kruger - unless he wants to resign at league minimum as a 12th/13th forward. He could be moved at the deadline for AHL help, low-end prospect/pick.

* Seabrook - not happening and I don't think Stan should include a guy like Dylan Sikura just to rid him from the team like he would have in years past. If Seabs stays, Colliton is going to have to have a tough offseason/training camp conversation with Brent to basically tell him he's a 6th-7th dman at this point.

* ANYONE that doesn't buy in or want to be on this team - the reason I say this is if Duncan Keith calls up Stan and says... "it's been fun, but I need to be closer to my kid out west, can you help me out?" then I'm ok with that if Stan can make the right move. I love Keith, but maybe he's ready to move on. That goes for others as well.


IN


* Elite Forward - the Hawks need to jump on one of these forwards who will be available. Guys like - Panarin, Stone, Duchene, Skinner, etc. Even a guy that might come a bit "cheaper" but could be a great fit in the top 6 with Kane like Jordan Eberle.

* Sandpaper/Character/Sparkplugs - I would take a guy like Michael Ferland or Wayne Simmonds for higher-end guys of this nature. A guy like Brandan Tanev on the lower end $$ would be great as well. The Hawks may need to trade for one of these types of players... think MB wants to deal Shaw back? Hawks have space.

* Defence help - let's be honest the Mitchel/Boqvist/Beaudin train should be slowed down and IMO there is a need to still add potentially to this group unless guys like Dahstrom and Forsling are the real deal. Give me a Anton Stralman (who is a UFA) type guy to help stabilize this group.

* Goaltending (?) - this one is a maybe as I alluded to in the blog. If Crawford is done or needs time, the Hawks can't wait. I know everyone loves Delia (myself included) but we have to be realistic that he isn't an automatic #1 goalie after wait, 10 NHL starts?

- Justin Lowe


I won't leave you hanging out there...this is what I would want.

I'd like Brock Nelson, Michael Ferland, Stralman, and Mark Stone. I don't think it would be possible to fit all those under the cap, but maybe if you can trade 2 bigger contracts...this could be possible.

I would trade Gus while his value is high, as well and let Forsling take that spot for the time being.
Scott1977
Season Ticket Holder
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Yorkville, IL
Joined: 08.30.2012

Jan 9 @ 11:35 AM ET
Justin IMO this is not a playoff team its been a nice run of late but same problems are there. They have played better as a team yes of late but hardly any depth scoring beyond kane toews and dcat. D zone is a mess still way too many shots against and too many prime scoring chances against each game. The make of the team is flawed just not balance, to me look at Washington or Winnipeg for example size speed skill and physical players and solid d core. So bowman and the hawks better be sellers at the TDL, AA kruger kunitz ward saad keith seabrook gustteerson. I would build around Kane Toews Dcat Strome Perlini Hayden Kampf Caggulia murphy joiki keith or seabrook have to keep one to help the young d man coming up, Delia Crawford if he comes back. Some teams I would look to trade with would be Winnipeg Washington Toronto Montreal Buffalo Tampa Pitt all contending teams and sure there other teams but look at these teams as they have to get in or these teams window for winning a cup is close. What look for is value for value trades and trades that makes sense for now and the future. One thing bowman needs to do is get some nasty players that hard to play against shaw type players physical pest like this an area he as failed a great deal. Justin anymore info on Edmonton wanting seabrook or keith in a trade and if so what kind of trade could be had.

Chunk
Chicago Blackhawks
Location: Orange, CA
Joined: 11.06.2015

Jan 9 @ 11:39 AM ET
This is a great point. The Cap has made it necessary to try and win while the young guys are on their ELC's or bridge deals. TOR will experience that pain next year and have some tough decisions, EDM is already having issues with McDavid and Draisaitl drawing huge salaries and they are no-where near being competitive, TBL are pretty well situated but will have a few tough choices coming up after this season and next.
- TheTrob


Calgary actually has a pretty good set-up. I think if they could get their goaltending situated (and Rittich might be that) they could be one of the top 5 teams in the league. They have a lot of guys in the $3-6M range and have really good depth.

I get they are really good players, but what in the flying heck is the deal with giving McDavid and Eichel 12.5 and 10 per year (cap hits) at 21 and 22yrs old? Yes they can score, but in my eyes that is way too much way too early. I can't wait to see what Matthews gets...
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