The road to repeat for the Chicago Blackhawks was already set to be a difficult one given all the roster turnover during the off-season. Now the team will be dealing with the loss of key defenseman Brian Campbell for the next four to five weeks with a knee sprain will make at least the start of the season that much more difficult. The question for Chicago now becomes: Who will take over for Campbell while he’s out. Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago digs in to figure things out.
In either a criticism of the Hawks’ depth (after their top four) at that position, or a nod to his talents, 19-year-old Nick Leddy might be the best candidate for the job. He’s a puck-moving guy that should feel comfortable with the steady Niklas Hjalmarsson, or if coach Joel Quenneville elects, Brent Seabrook or Duncan Keith.
It was always in Leddy’s best interests to play with a top-four guy, or go to the minors and get the full-scale learning experience. Now, there’s less of a choice in that decision. Nothing says he’ll finish the game the way he starts it but the opportunity is there for his taking.
Leddy was obtained from the Minnesota Wild last year in the Cam Barker trade. Just last season, Leddy was starting on defense for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the NCAA. Now he’s poised to start the year with the Chicago Blackhawks who will be looking to defend the Stanley Cup. Not a bad upgrade in life, that’s for sure.
The Blackhawks will just have to hope that the 19 year-old Leddy is ready for the spotlight, otherwise it’ll be Jordan Hendry’s time to shine in Chicago. Hendry played through most of the playoffs for Chicago last year but did lose his starting job to Nick Boynton during the Stanley Cup finals. With the lack of depth in the Blackhawks system, veteran Jassen Cullimore also figures to start the season with the Blackhawks in a support role.
It’s not an ideal starting point for the team, but the Blackhawks knew they might have to deal with these issues this season given what they had to do to get under the cap. How this affects their run for another Stanley Cup will make for captivating theater in Chicago.
(Photo: Claus Andersen – Getty Images)
Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson have been named finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but the debate about who should win is likely to persist right through to June 22 and the annual NHL Awards.
Not only did Karlsson, last year’s Norris winner, lead all blue liners is points with 82, he led the league in assists with 66 and finished tied with Joe Thornton for fourth in the entire NHL in total points. Those lofty offensive totals could make the Ottawa Senators star the clear favorite to claim the award for a third time in his career.
Karlsson is the first NHL defenseman to score at least 82 in a season since Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (85 points) and Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins (82 points) in 1995-96.
Burns — is there an award for most outrageous beard? — is also coming off an impressive regular season, finishing just shy of the 30-goal mark with 27 and 75 points in 82 games for the Sharks. He’s also had a strong showing in the post-season, as well, with eight points in the opening round versus L.A.
Doughty’s offensive numbers don’t match up with the production from Karlsson or Burns, with 51 points in 82 games for the Kings. There were eight defensemen ahead of him in overall point production. But he’s often recognized for logging hefty amounts of ice time, averaging 28:01 in the regular season, on a Kings team that often dominates puck possession at even strength.
“If you’re going to win, I don’t care how good you are, you’re going to have to play the other side of the puck,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi recently said to the Associated Press.
“You’re going to have to make those little plays that aren’t going to show up on the highlights. (Doughty’s) defensive partners — the little things he’ll do just to get his partner time to make a play. He’s three steps ahead of everything, and because he is that, he makes it look easy.”
They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Stars expect Seguin to miss at least first two games of Blues series
Here are PHT’s second-round playoff predictions
Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.
The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.
Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.
Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.
Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.
Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.
Contractual details, per the Buffalo News: