Thursday, October 13, 2016
Blackhawks' youth at forward creates optimism, uncertainty entering season
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has a good poker face, so it is difficult to know when it is excited, angry or nervous.
But in July at the annual convention of the computer fan, Bowman stood in front of the media and several people in the Falcons organization - office, staff and players - and brimming with confidence.
This was just weeks after trading Andrew Bowman Shaw and Teuvo Teräväinen. Shaw, a restricted free agent, because he was a new contract for the Hawks could not fit under the cap was due. Teräväinen was because the Hawks could not accommodate Bryan Bickell contract under the cap.
"The most exciting thing for us is to give some opportunities - real opportunities - for those young players to be able to find a place in the team," Bowman said. "Many of these guys have been in our system for several years, and has been difficult. There have been few openings. So our mentality is to go with the group we have under contract right now. It's a team photo of confidence."
Bowman could be safer than fanbase Hawks went to the first game Wednesday against the blue, but it is time the Hawks to show how good these young players are.
Sixty-nine points out the door with Shaw and Teräväinen, and the only notable advance Bowman signed in free agency Jordin Tootoo was official, best known for her fight against the score. Bowman said he did not make any other movement in the front, because he has faith in young players who have struggled throughout training camp to prove they belong.
Thus, this season is perhaps the biggest referendum on Bowman and the ability of the office to draft and develop young talent forward during his tenure as GM.
The good news is that the Hawks shored one shallow blue line with the addition of Brian Campbell with a great discount. But after that mole whacked, there appeared another - deep forward.
Patrick Kane Winter Classic Jersey, Jonathan Toews Jersey, Marian Hossa and Artemi Panarin can not do all the scoring. If the Hawks want to compete for another Stanley Cup this season, they will have names like Tyler Motte, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Vincent Hinostroza appear on the score sheet on a regular basis.
This is the corner is painted on with a complete list of players with big contracts for the coming years. Players need entry-level agreements to become NHL players, Shaw and Brandon Saad way they did before the Hawks moved to. It is the responsibility of Bowman coach Joel Quenneville and to make it work.
"Perhaps has been different in previous years," Bowman said, "when they looked at the lineup and asked where they could fit in."
Of course it is one thing to trust young players Bowman Hawks. It is another coach to trust them enough to put them on ice in crucial situations.
Quenneville has a reputation of favoring older players. Go through any recent season Hawks and you can find some fans complain Quenneville young player is leaving the bench in favor of a less striking veteran.
Quenneville rejected that idea, saying "never had a problem with young guys."
"We know where we are as an organization and as a team," he said, "that there will be some new players and new players will need to play and start to improve throughout the game. That's the situation we're in. No It bothers me at all. "
But it is a bit more complicated than simply throwing young players out there. Quenneville has to find out who meshes with who and what role they can play.
Last season, it seemed that the strap is cut to give prospects a chance. Some came up several times, often for only a handful of games before returning to Rockford. Those who stick around were a little older, like Brandon Mashinter, 28, and Dennis Rasmussen, 26.
Quenneville said young people will have time to develop.
"There will be some growth problems in certain situations with young boys, either technical or thinking in certain situations, he does not care (a) make mistakes," Quenneville said. "But what you want is an improvement as it goes along and you want to make sure that is what we are here for - they have some great speed -. That can give us some intensity"
If a player who took over the camp, was Motte, the most consistent of the young forward. He Hinostroza, Schmaltz and Hartman all have the ability to become solid contributors.
The Hawks decided to keep the four while sending promising Alexandre Fortin, 19, back to his junior team, where he must remain until the season ends.
Others in Rockford - as Kyle Baun, Tanner and Kero Mashinter - are next in line should fail the Hawks to start the season.
"It's very good to have competition in the organization," Schmaltz said, "and it only makes sense to have to work much harder to be here because if we do not compete every night, they will come and take our places."
Regardless of who's here, the Blackhawks Jerseys are sure they have enough offense.
"Throughout my time here, we have never had problems scoring goals," Kane, who was second in the league with 46 last season said. "We have always been up near the top of the league in goals.
"Last year we did not have much balance as we would have liked, but we look at our season, we still had more points in the regular season than we did last year. ... So we know that the ability of the objectives qualification is there. "
The question is that will make the outer marker of the usual suspects? Quenneville could shake lines last season to balance the big four. Kane could start the season without Panarin, while Toews and Hossa could also break. Of course that could last all of an earlier period Quenneville goes back to what worked.
At least for now, the Hawks are optimistic.
"The energy that we will get these young guys going to be healthy for us," Quenneville said. "The evolution from the beginning will be these young guys taking advantage and improving as the season progresses, but I think it will be better every month.
"At the end of it, we must be a better team as we move forward."
But no one knows how well they will be.