Saturday, May 30, 2009

What the Blackhawks need to do this off-season

1. Re-sign Martin Havlat.

A year ago, he wouldn't have been worth keeping. He wasn't producing as well as he should have and was constantly injured. However, this year, he ended up points-leader for the team and was the most clutch player they had, regular or post-season. Havlat is not only a good player, he's a veteran with tons of experience--something this young team needs. Get him back in the line-up.

2. Re-sign Nikolai Khabibulin.
Again, a year ago, I was pushing for the Blackhawks to dump out the trash. Nikolai, like Havlat, was injury-prone, and featured extreme streakiness (i.e. a 10-game losing streak last season). I was ecstatic when the Hawks signed Cristobal Huet last summer. He played well at the beginning of the year. Nik and Cris really battled it out for the starting job. Khabi seemed to get better, while Huet seemed to become an AHL-level goalie. Nik proved to be the Hawks most stable goalie, not to mention their best. And, let's not kid ourselves. If we depend on Huet to be our starting goalie, we'll have no chance next year. Keep Khabi around for a year or two more and see how long he plays at this level.
3. Work on the defense.
No doubt, the Hawks are deep at this position. The immaculate pairing of Seabrook and Keith; add to that, Cam Barker and Brian Campbell. Two others surprised us with their skill--Nicholas Hjalmarson and Matt Walker, called up this year. However, the defense was one of the biggest problems when playing Detroit. Seabrook turned the puck over twice in the series to give up breakaway goals. Campbell did the same thing to lose in overtime. The worst part? They were in their offensive zone when they turned it over. Work on passing on the blue-line.
4. I'm not clear on contract rules and such, but, if possible, give contract extensions to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. They're your all-stars. Toews took a while to heat up this year, but once he did, he proved he was a big enough man to wear the "C" on his chest--the youngest ever to do so, in NHL history. Patrick Kane started hot, and then cooled off as the season wore on. However, he was a big part of the Blackhawks playoff offense. Scoring 9 goals--including 3 he put behind Luongo in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
I'm looking forward to a great season next year. Hopefully we can make it to the Cup next time around.

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