Jimmy Hayes' NHL debut came on one of the biggest stages possible. No, it wasnt a playoff game, but the Blackhawks regular-season game against division rival Detroit certainly had that feel.And while Hayes didnt log a ton of minutes, coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw from the rookie when he was on the ice.He had a great first shift and he still had presence, Quenneville said after the Blackhawks 3-2 victory over Detroit on Friday night. He had good physicality, strength with the puck and he was dangerous around the net. He didnt play a ton but it was a good first game for him.Hayes played about eight and a half minutes, recording two shots on goal, a blocked shot and four hits, tied for team best with Daniel Carcillo. Playing with Jamal Mayers and Andrew Brunette on the fourth line, the group had scoring opportunities early. Hayes himself clanged one off the post.The 6-foot-6, 221-pound Hayes is the latest Blackhawks prospect to have a chance with the big team. But unlike the past few seasons when the Blackhawks were doing the Rockford shuffle due to money constraints, now theyre doing it to see what their farm team has to offer.And why shouldnt they look at their options? They have plenty of them, mainly among the forward ranks. Some have asked if its hurting the young players development. No, it isnt. Their development is still mainly with Rockford, not with the Blackhawks. Not yet, anyway.So far, none of the prospects have latched on for a long ride in Chicago. Part of that is because of the Blackhawks depth and health: theyve both been good. In some cases, the kids just arent ready for the big stage.How long will Hayes stay? If he keeps building on his debut game, it could be for a little bit. With Hayes here, the Blackhawks have 23 on the roster and can stay that way as long as they want no salary-cap, shuffle-inducing problems here anymore.Hayes is the latest to get the opportunity, one he called a dream come true when he arrived earlier this week. What he does with it is up to him.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said at the ninth annual Blackhawks Convention that he's prepared to enter the 2016-17 season with the roster as currently constructed, but there could be one more addition coming, and an impactful one at that.
Coveted free agent forward Jimmy Vesey will hit the open market on Aug. 15, and the Blackhawks are reportedly among the short list of teams set to meet with him when he's eligible to speak with other clubs next month.
"Chicago will be a team we want to talk to on Aug. 15," Vesey's agent Peter Donatelli told Scott Powers of The Athletic over the phone Monday. "Chicago will be on the list, but it shouldn't be read as they're ahead of anyone else.
"He really has no idea where he's going to be. It's going to be up to the teams to sell him. ... Yes, [we have criteria], but we're interested in what the teams say rather than telling the teams what they have to say."
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Vesey is currently property of the Buffalo Sabres after the Nashville Predators, who originally drafted him with the No. 66 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, traded the 23-year-old left winger's negotiating rights in June for a 2016 third-round selection when it became apparent the two sides wouldn't be able to hammer out a deal.
What makes Vesey and Chicago a perfect match for each other is there's a legitimate spot open in the top-six to potentially play alongside Jonathan Toews, and because Vesey would be signing an entry-level contract, the maximum allowable salary is $925,000 per year, which benefits the cap-strapped Blackhawks.
Vesey is a two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, and captured the award as the best player in college hockey last season after scoring 24 goals and adding 22 assists in 33 games with Harvard University, where he played four years.
The previous two Hobey Baker Award winners are Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames (2014) and Jack Eichel of the Sabres (2015), so the possibility of Vesey landing in Chicago could immediately give the Blackhawks another dynamic scoring option.
The Blackhawks announced their 2016 preseason television broadcast schedule on Tuesday, and you can catch five of the six total contests here on Comcast SportsNet.
The Blackhawks will open their preseason slate on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. on CSN Plus when the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. Their six-game slate comes against just three opponents as they will face the Penguins, Blues and Red Wings twice over the span of two weeks.
Ticket information for the 2016 preseason will be announced at a later date.
Here is the Blackhawks' full preseason television broadcast schedule:
The Blackhawks and David Rundblad have mutually agreed to terminate the defenseman’s contract, as generalfanager.com reported on Monday night.
With the contract terminated, the Blackhawks will not carry any type of Rundblad-related cap hit. If the Blackhawks had bought out Rundblad, they would have carried a $133,333 cap hit this season and a $183,333 the next season.
Per generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks now have approximately $2.3 million in cap space.
Rundblad was placed on waivers on July 1. The defenseman spent part of the 2015-16 season playing in Switzerland. He returned to the Blackhawks last spring and played in three of the team’s seven playoff games against the St. Louis Blues.
But Rundblad could never find a consistent place in the Blackhawks’ lineup. General manager Stan Bowman talked in July of Rundblad wanting a fresh start.
“He’s still a young guy, wants to get back to playing a lot of hockey and that’s why he wanted to go to Europe mid-season. We were willing to honor that request. We’ll let him find a spot where he knows he’ll be a regular player every day,” Bowman said in July. “He has a bright future. We wish him well. But it’s hard as a guy trying to establish yourself in the NHL if you don’t play a lot of minutes. But I think we’ll see David back in the NHL in a few years. I think he wants to find a better fit where he’ll play a lot.”