Blackhawks' Saad keeping nerves under control

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Blackhawks' Saad keeping nerves under control

Coverage of tonight's season opener starts at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

DALLAS -- Brandon Saad has handled his quick-to-the-NHL odyssey very well this preseason. And that first road night out with the teammates was pretty enjoyable, too.

"We had a good dinner. The travel and all the expenses, it's pretty cool," Saad said with a laugh.

Now the Chicago Blackhawks will see how the rookie wing will handle his regular-season debut.

Saad's parents will be in the American Airlines Center crowd tonight as Saad and the Blackhawks open the season against the Dallas Stars. It's heady stuff for the 18-year-old, but he's handled it well thus far. Having Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp as linemates never hurts, either.

"Being as young as I am and playing with these two guys, it's going to be incredible," said Saad, who added he's been able to keep the nerves pretty calm so far. "There'll be some nerves closer to game time. But once you're out there you just play your game."

Linemate Sharp said "I'm sure there'll be some conversations throughout the game. Jonnny likes to talk and yell and scream if things aren't going well. We'll have advice for him but based on the way he's been playing I think he's ready to go."

Coach Joel Quenneville said he'll keep an eye on his young forward.

"He's with a couple nice guys to play with as well," Quenneville said. "They'll help him along and we'll see how he handles it."

Burish behavior

Former Blackhawks forward Adam Burish (groin) will miss Friday's opener but is hoping to play Saturday night when the Stars and Blackhawks meet again in Chicago. But Burish still couldn't pass up the chance to have fun with his old teammates.

"I could take on Kane with one groin no problem," Burish joked Friday. "I think just trying to hold down that big horse (Marian) Hossa would be a little tougher. But I could take (Patrick) Kane and (Patrick) Sharp with one groin. Im gonna rest up and embarrass them in their own building tomorrow."

Burish had fun talking about Kane playing center but nevertheless thinks his former teammate can play just fine there.

"He better practice his faceoffs a little bit because I remember beating him up in practice a few times," Burish said. "Hell be good though. The thing that hell be good at is just the way he skates. He can skate so good and on the wing, you gotta stop and start a little bit where now hell able to do those big loops and those circles and go back and take it off Duncan Keiths stick and skate all the way up the ice."

Dowell's new digs

Jake Dowell is getting used to his new surroundings in Dallas. He said he didn't know what to expect last summer, and was somewhat surprised that he wasn't a Blackhawk again this year. Dowell was one of the few who would tussle last season; but the Blackhawks let him go and signed gritty veterans Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo.

"I was a little bit surprised, but that's just the decision that was made and they wanted a group of different guys to get in there to bring the toughness and the grit," said Dowell, who adjusted to Dallas quickly.

"It's been a pretty easy transition getting down here and they've been great," Dowell said of the Stars. "It's been a little bit of a long training camp because you're just chomping at the bit to get going. But there's good chemistry with the team here."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the NHL's salary cap could stay flat next year, reports ESPN's Craig Custance.

Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed at the latest NHL's Board of Governors meeting that the projected ceiling for the 2017-18 campaign could be an increase between zero and $2 million, which isn't exactly encouraging considering the projection at this time of year is normally an optimistic one.

That means the salary cap may be closer to — or at — the $73 million it's at right now.

In the last four years, the cap has increased by $4.3 million in 2013-14, $4.7 million in 2014-15, $2.4 million in 2015-16 and $1.6 million in 2016-17. The number continues to descend, and it affects big-budget teams like the Blackhawks the most.

It makes it especially difficult for the Blackhawks to navigate because they own two of the highest paid players in the league in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom carry a $10.5 million cap hit through 2022-23. It's a great problem to have, though.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

According to capfriendly.com, Chicago currently has $60.6 million tied up to 14 players — eight forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender — next season. If the cap stays the same, that means the Blackhawks must fill out the rest of their roster with fewer than $13 million to work with and still have to sign Artemi Panarin to a long-term extension.

And they may need to move salary to do it, with the potential cap overages crunching things even more.

On the open market, Panarin would probably be able to earn Vladimir Tarasenko money — a seven-year deal that carries a $7.5 million cap hit — but if he prefers to remain in Chicago, the contract would likely be in the range of Johnny Gaudreau's six-year deal with an annual average value of $6.75 million.

With the expansion draft looming, the Blackhawks know they're going to lose a player to Las Vegas in the offseason. The two likely candidates, as it stands, are Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk, and the former would free up $3 million in cap space while the latter $825,000.

If that won't get the job done, the Blackhawks may be forced to part ways with a core player such as Brent Seabrook and his eight-year, $55 million contract, although he has a full no-movement clause until 2021-22 and it would be very hard to imagine since you're trying to maximize your current championship window.

Anything is possible, however, after seeing promising young guys like Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw shipped out of Chicago due to a tight budget.

It's a challenge general manager Stan Bowman has certainly already been thinking about, and a stagnant salary cap doesn't make things any easier.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Kap on the panel. Jonathan Toews is still not back at practice. Is it time to panic?

Meanwhile, the Bulls beat the Spurs. And Rajon Rondo compliments the coaches? Is all well in Bulls-town?

Plus, Dexter Fowler is Cardinal. Should Cubs fans be angry?

And finally, is it good idea for Jordan Howard to get the ball less for the rest of the season?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: