Roster gains and labor pains


Roster gains and labor pains

The teams that have ruled the roost recently in the Central Division finished in third and fourth place this season, and theyve been sent home after one round.

As the Blackhawks go forward into another long summer after that glorious short one a couple of years ago, management, the personnel and scouting departments and head coach Joel Quenneville probably have a wish list on how to get better. Beyond that, they probably have a secondary - perhaps more realistic - plan.

As we speak, St. Louis and Nashville have passed up them and the Red Wings. The Blues and Predators could very well square off in the Western Conference Finals to determine who plays for the Stanley Cup. Stan Bowman - as the man whose job it will be to set this team up to aim even higher than the 101 points they earned this year - left the impression in his season-ending press conference that drastic change isnt necessarily coming. That doesnt mean there wont be changes, but the ones he makes with what might be limited roster flexibility will be crucial.

If Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell remain, theyll have to play the first six months like they did the last 2 12 weeks for this team to get better. Likewise, if Viktor Stalbergs still here, how much more upside does he have after the statistical strides he made this year?

Like Nick Leddy, Marcus Krugers next step needs to be accompanied by some more bulk to provide an offensive bump. So, when all of us amateur lineup-makers start scribbling down lines and defensive pairings, the spots start to fill up pretty quickly if you toss in Andrew Shaw and Daniel Carcillo. After all that, where do Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Saad, Jeremy Morin or Brandon Pirri fit in, if at all? Do they stay with the organization, or are one or two packaged to provide what each of you think is missing? Is Dylan Olsen the guy who will provide size and nastiness despite his relative inexperience?

It would seem there would have to be a new face or two, maybe one up front and one on the back end. But then theres this: free agency begins July 1, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) doesnt expire until Sept. 15, about the same time training camps would be opening. Can teams really be that aggressive on that first day of July if they dont know what their salary cap will be -- especially if that number might actually shrink from the 64.3 million theyre allowed to spend now?

If the salary cap stays exactly the same, indicates the Hawks have about 6.8 million to spend outside of their committed contracts. Detroit has roughly 20 million. The only potential free agents of their own currently earning more than seven figures is deadline pickup Kyle Quincey. The future of Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom are up in the air amidst rumors theyll pursue Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.

Those Preds need to re-sign Suter, Shea Weber and Alexander Radulov, but have 32 million to spend. And St. Louis is in shape at 28 million of cap space with potential free agents T.J. Oshie, David Perron and Chris Stewart. All are currently earning salaries between 2 and 3 million.

With Donald Fehr now running the union, he knows all too well how his leverage improves the closer a season gets - arguably coming off what might be the most successful, money-making season in NHL history. If these negotiations that havent even begun extend into September (and why wouldnt they?), we could be looking at a mad roster scramble like we saw in the NFL last August - working by whatever that new salary cap is - once a new deal is done. Who knows? If it goes down, some teams may have to actually shed salary to get to that number.

Since there are no games and matchups to worry about, Blackhawk fans may well have to wait until the matchup -- and games -- between Bettman and Fehr are over before seeing what changes come for 2012-13.

Artemi Panarin shows off Duncan Keith's Russian singing skills

Artemi Panarin shows off Duncan Keith's Russian singing skills

Duncan Keith isn't quitting his day job anytime soon, but maybe he can moonlight as a Russian singer.

Artemi Panarin — Keith's Blackhawks teammate and a native of Korkino, Russia — posted an Instagram video Friday of Keith signing along to a song called "Gop-Stop:"

Канадский #розенбаум 😂 Canadian #singer @dk_2_

A video posted by @artemiypanarin on

Here's the YouTube video of the song, which is a famous Russian gangster song:

This is exactly what social media was made for: Bringing worlds together for the amusement and entertainment of others.

Also, hat/tip to Keith for his quality singing/rapping skills.

Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation

Dwyane Wade not buying into the Bosh to Bulls speculation

ATLANTA — One of the reasons Dwyane Wade was so attractive to the Bulls in free agency was a perceived ability to bring other stars along with him at some point.

Enter Chris Bosh and an ESPN rumor that states the Bulls would be first in line if Bosh becomes free from the Miami Heat on March 1. 

Bosh hasn't played for the Heat in nearly a year after a reoccurrence of blood clots, which could ultimately be deadly. Bosh and the Heat are at an impasse; Bosh wants to play, believing he's found a medication that could work for him and his condition, while the Heat don't feel it's prudent or safe for him to suit up. 

Thus, the impasse.

Since Wade and Bosh are former teammates — and Bosh appeared at the United Center earlier this month for a Bulls-Raptors game — the Bulls seem like they could be a natural destination should he become free.

"Who came up with that? I don't know. I play with the Bulls and I don't even know that," Wade said after the morning shootaround at Philips Arena in Atlanta. "That's news to me, he's one of my good friends. The biggest thing with Chris is the same thing, you know, is his health. He's not even playing basketball right now. He's going to continue on his health and I think that's what he's doing."

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

The Heat can get Bosh off their salary cap Feb. 9th, the anniversary of the last game he played for them. Bosh played 53 games last year after playing 44 in the 2014-15 season, when the blood clot issue first appeared.

A player averaging 20 points and 7.2 rebounds — Bosh's numbers in the 97 games he's played since LeBron James left the Miami Heat in free agency — would be a boon, but as Wade said, his health has to come first for Bosh and whatever franchise is potentially looking at him.

It's already tricky enough when involving Bosh's desire to play and his support from the NBPA, but the NBA doesn't want to have a player potentially die on their watch, making it more difficult for a prospective team to step in and offer Bosh.

"Basketball is something he loves and I'm sure somewhere in the back of his mind he would love to be able to do again," Wade said. "But I know his steps and he's that moment is not here now. I can't even talk about next year."

Wade said the thought of Bosh coming to Chicago hasn't come up in their recent conversations, although even if it had, Wade wouldn't be the one to stoke the flames of speculation when there's so many other hurdles to clear.

"I talk to him. A lot of the issue with the Heat is at the end of the day he has something serious and they want to make sure it's not life-threatening and then it goes from there," Wade said. "Things are said and things are done, but at the end of the day, as I've always said about Chris, I know Chris is worried about his health first.

"He has a family that he loves and he wants to make sure that he's as healthy and whole as he can but also he loves the game of basketball so when that day comes there are always going to be stories about guys where they have friends at."