Blackhawks breakdown: Dylan Olsen

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Blackhawks breakdown: Dylan Olsen

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

When the Blackhawks defensive corps was ravaged by injuries when the calendar turned to 2012, they gave 21-year-old Dylan Olsen his first shot at NHL hockey when he made his debut on Jan. 5 in Philadelphia. He would go on to average just over 13 minutes of ice time in 28 games. Olsen is still in search of his first goal, and finished with one assist and a minus-5 rating. He was credited with 43 hits and 23 blocked shots. Olsen only played in one playoff game -- the Game 3 overtime loss -- and logged less than five minutes of ice time.

Boden's take: Olsen at 6-foot-2, 214 pounds might have the size the Hawks so sorely need to add to Brent Seabrook on the blue line, but does he have the experience? The answer is no, but if Stan Bowman does indeed want to shop around for another big body for the back and cant find one, Olsen would seem to be Plan B. If that's the case, theyd need him to gradually develop and blossom over the course of next season, when the former 28th overall pick of the 2009 draft turns 22. Joel Quenneville liked what he offered when he was given a chance during his stint late in the regular season, but wasnt quite confident enough to use him in any more than one playoff game. Olsens game has definitely grown over the past year, the question is whether its enough to make a consistent impression.

Myers' take: The Blackhawks had a lot of defensemen depth ahead of Olsen last season, so he didnt get a chance until the second half. That, and he was dealing with a lower-body injury at the start of camp, which also put him behind. When he did get the call-up, Olsen was decent in his 28 games with the Blackhawks, having the on-and-off outings befitting of a rookie. Still, it was no surprise when Olsen sat for all but one playoff game. He was still too young and too green to be thrown into the postseason.
2012-13 Expectations
Boden: Olsen made huge strides last offseason and hung around through camp before being sent to Rockford just as the regular season began. Is he capable of taking a comparable step this summer? Those strides were physical, now it's a matter of finding a positive consistency in his game to push Montador and Hjalmarsson. The guy has got a booming slapshot which he doesn't use enough. If there's an area of his game that he could be focusing on, that might be it. The Hawks could certainly use a big, reliable shot on the power play, but he has to get in that mindset and comfort zone first. There's bang-for-their-buck potential there with Olsen, as he has two years and 1.75 million remaining on his original deal before being eligible for restricted free agency.

Myers: Considering the money the Blackhawks have already thrown toward defensemen, including Johnny Oduyas new contract, you would have to wonder how many internal guys will get a shot at the lineup next season. That should include Olsen, who has decent size on a defense that doesnt have much of it. Olsen went through a grueling offseason training program last summer and it would benefit him to do the same entering this training camp. If he can come in healthy, he could find a spot here out of camp.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Olsen above.

Up next: Dave Bolland

Cubs Talk Podcast: Breaking down the World Series hangover

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Breaking down the World Series hangover

Do the Cubs have a World Series hangover?

On the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Bay Area Giants Insider Alex Pavlovic joins CSN's Patrick Mooney to talk about the World Series hangover, how last year's playoff loss lingered in San Francisco, Johnny Cueto's quirks, the legend of Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija's ups and downs.

Plus Kelly Crull, Jeff Nelson and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ defensive struggles this year compared to an historic 2016 and how Ian Happ fits into the Cubs’ lineup in both the short and long term.

Listen to the latest episode below:

What does Caleb Swanigan's departure for NBA mean for Purdue and the 2018 Big Ten title race?

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USA TODAY

What does Caleb Swanigan's departure for NBA mean for Purdue and the 2018 Big Ten title race?

Caleb Swanigan, unsurprisingly, is heading to the NBA.

Last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year announced Wednesday that he’ll pass up the final two seasons of his NCAA eligibility for a paying gig at the professional level, an awesome opportunity for a kid who battled obesity and homelessness to become one of the best basketball players in the country.

But Swanigan’s departure from West Lafayette means a heck of a lot to the Big Ten.

Without the league’s most dominant big man, what becomes of Purdue’s chances at winning a conference title? Similarly, with a weakened — though still strong — group of Boilermakers, what does the Big Ten race look like going into 2017-18?

First, Purdue. Matt Painter’s program is plenty healthy, and while there’s no doubt that losing Swanigan is a big deal, the Boilers got some really good news, too, Wednesday when Vincent Edwards announced he’ll be returning for his senior season. Seven-footer Isaac Haas also made the decision to return to West Lafayette, meaning the towering frontcourt hasn’t been completely decimated just because tha man called “Biggie” is gone.

Purdue will also return Carsen Edwards, who had an impressive freshman campaign, and Dakota Mathias, a terrific defender and 3-point shooter. Two more important pieces — P.J. Thompson and Ryan Cline — are back, as well. And Painter will welcome in freshman Nojel Eastern, a highly touted guard from Evanston.

So the Boilers are still in very good shape. There will be a big magnifying glass on Haas, who despite his physical attributes hasn’t always found consistent on-court success. But there have been plenty of flashes of brilliance from the big man. A big step forward in his game would go a long way in easing the blow of losing Swanigan and could keep Purdue as one of the frontrunners for a conference title.

That brings us to the Big Ten race. Ever since Miles Bridges, the conference’s reigning Freshman of the Year, announced he’d be returning to Michigan State for his sophomore season, the Spartans have been the near-unanimous favorite. Only something like Swanigan deciding to stay at Purdue could’ve changed that. And with Swanigan expectedly heading to the NBA, Michigan State remains the preseason pick to win the conference crown.

Like any good year in the Big Ten, though, there will be challengers.

But Michigan State is the popular choice to win it because of Tom Izzo’s insane 2016 recruiting class is returning completely intact: Bridges, Nick Ward, Cassius Winston and Joshua Langford are all back. And Izzo brings in one of the top 2017 recruits in forward Jaren Jackson.

But Sparty isn’t the only one with an impressive returning group. Purdue’s experienced roster has already been covered. Northwestern, a surprise contender in 2016-17, should be even better as Bryant McIntosh, Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey enter their fourth year playing together. Dererk Pardon, a shot-blocking whiz at center, is also back, as is sharp-shooter Aaron Falzon, who sat out the 2016-17 season with an injury after starting during his freshman year in 2015-16.

There will be big shoes to fill for some perennial contenders like Maryland — which must replace Melo Trimble — and Michigan, which watched eligibility run out on Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin before D.J. Wilson decided to head to the professional ranks Wednesday. But those teams have plenty of talent returning, too. The Terps will have all three of their fab freshmen — Justin Jackson, Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter — back for sophomore seasons, while the Wolverines have Moe Wagner back in the fold alongside Xavier Simpson and Duncan Robinson, among others.

And what of last year’s shocking contender, Minnesota? The Golden Gophers didn’t lose too much this offseason and will return almost every main player from last year’s 24-10 squad: Amir Coffey, Nate Mason, Reggie Lynch, Jordan Murphy, Dupree McBrayer and Eric Curry.

There are up-and-comers to think about, too, such as last year’s freshman-heavy squads at Iowa and Penn State. And could new head coaches Brad Underwood and Archie Miller make instant splashes at Illinois and Indiana, respectively?

If it sounds a little too much like the annual coach speak that “any team can win on any night” in the Big Ten, that’s because there is a good deal of truth to that oft-used phrase.

There are definitely tiers to this thing, though. Even without Swanigan, Purdue is still in one of those upper tiers. But there might be no team besides Michigan State at the very top of the heap, something underscored by Swanigan turning pro.