Chicago Cubs

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 lose Pierce Johnson on waivers

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Cubs lose Pierce Johnson on waivers

The Cubs have parted ways with the first pitcher drafted by Theo Epstein's front office.

The Cubs designated Pierce Johnson for assignment last week when they purchased the contract of Jen-Ho Tseng to make his first MLB start against the New York Mets.

Now Johnson is with a new organization.

The San Francisco Giants claimed Johnson off waivers Wednesday. He was initially selected in the supplemental first round in 2012 with the 43rd pick, 37 spots behind Albert Almora Jr.

Johnson is now 26 and just made his first — and only — big-league appearance May 19 this spring.

In Triple-A Iowa, Johnson had a 4.31 ERA in 43 games, including one start. He struck out 74 batters in 54.1 innings, but also walked 27 batters and had a 1.454 WHIP. 

Johnson spent six years in the Cubs minor-league system, going 29-21 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.305 WHIP and 9.3 K/9, working slightly more than half the time as a starter (74 starts, 56 relief appearances).

With the Cubs taking Johnson off their 40-man roster in mid-September as opposed to promoting him with expanded big-league rosters, it clearly shows he was not a part of their long-term pitching plans.

Why Ben Roethlisberger's perspective on young QBs (like Mitchell Trubisky) is worth keeping in mind

Why Ben Roethlisberger's perspective on young QBs (like Mitchell Trubisky) is worth keeping in mind

If Mitchell Trubisky takes over as the Bears’ starting quarterback this year and has some success, keep Ben Roethlisberger’s perspective in mind: It’ll take a couple of years before he’s solidly established in the NFL. 

Roethlisberger said even after his rookie year — in which he won all 13 regular season games he started — he still was facing defensive looks he hadn’t seen before in Year 2 and 3 as a pro. So saying someone is and will be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL after a productive first season is, for Roethlisberger, too early. 

“I think it takes a couple years,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s why I’m always slow to send too much praise or anoint the next great quarterback after Year 1. I think people in the media and the 'professionals' in some of these big sports networks are so quick to anoint the next great one or say that they’re going to be great; this, that and the other. Let’s wait and see what happens after two to three years; after defenses understand what you’re bringing; you’re not a surprise anymore. 

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks. In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

The flip side to this would be not panicking if Trubisky struggles when he eventually becomes the Bears’ starting quarterback. For all the success he had during preseason play, most of it came against backup and third string defenses that hadn’t done much gameplanning for him. Defensive coordinators inevitably will scheme to make things more difficult for a rookie quarterback with normal week of planning, and it may take Trubisky a little while to adjust to seeing things he hasn't before. 

“They’re not going to line up in a 4-3 or a 3-4 base defense, they’re going to throw different looks at you, different blitzes to try and confuse you,” Roethlisberger said. “The confusion between the ears part is really one of the biggest keys to it.”

The “it” Roethlisberger referred to there is success as a rookie. The former 11th overall pick was lucky enough to begin his NFL career with a strong ground game headlined by Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, a balanced receiving corps featuring Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randel El and a defense that led the NFL in points allowed (15.7/game). Trubisky, as the Bears’ roster currently stands, won’t be afforded that same level of support. 

Roethlisberger, though, had a chance to meet and work out with Trubisky before the draft (the two quarterbacks share the same agent) and, for what it's worth, came away impressed with 

“I thought he was a tremendous athlete,” Roethlisberger said. “I thought he could throw the ball. I thought when he got out of the pocket and made throws on the run, his improvising. I got to watch some of his college tape. Just really impressed with the athleticism. The ease of throwing the ball; it just looked easy to him when he was on the run, when it wasn’t supposed to be super easy. So I thought that those were the most impressive things that I got to see; obviously not sitting in a meeting room and knowing his smarts or things like that, but just the athleticism.”