Three keys to tonight's Blackhawks, Red Wings matchup

989711.png

Three keys to tonight's Blackhawks, Red Wings matchup

1. Get ready for a barrage from these New Look Wings.

Yes, the Red Wings are without Nik Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Tomas Holmstrom from last year's squad, but they still have Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and one of the best coaches in the league in Mike Babcock. He stated last night he wants to play as much of the game as he can in Chicagos end of the ice. Get ready for a ferocious forecheck.

2. Special Teams may be the decider.

Last year, Detroit was the second-least penalized team in the league. This year they are the second most, having taken eight minor penalties in their last win against Minnesota. Chicagos penalty kill still ranks among the tops in the league, having killed off 16 of 17 short handed situations, but they will be tested by a Detroit powerplay that scored its first goals of they year (2) against the Wild.

3. Wings taste best when theyre b-eaten at home.

The Red Wings are still the best rival the Chicago Blackhawks have. There is a lot of history between these two storied franchises. Detroit has fallen on hard times, and they are not the Wings of the past. But they still have what it takes to be spoilers, and they feel if they can win in Chicago, it may help change the mindset of their team. Chicago can set a new franchise record for consecutive wins to start a season. The United Center will be rocking.

Andrew Ladd inks long-term deal with Islanders

Andrew Ladd inks long-term deal with Islanders

Up against the salary cap, Andrew Ladd and the Blackhawks knew it would be difficult for the two sides to agree on a new deal that would be comfortable for both parties.

That day has officially come.

Ladd officially inked a seven-year, $38.5 million deal with the New York Islanders when free agency opened Friday at 11 a.m. The contract carries a $5.5 million cap hit, which is clearly out of the Blackhawks' range.

Ladd, 31, scored eight goals and four assists in 19 regular-season games with the Blackhawks last season after being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline.

He finished the year with 25 goals and 46 points in 78 games, and registered one goal and an assist in seven playoff games.

He’s back: Blackhawks sign Brian Campbell

He’s back: Blackhawks sign Brian Campbell

In 2011 the Blackhawks traded Brian Campbell not because of his play, but because of his massive contract at the time. So it went with the cash-strapped Blackhawks.

Now, thanks to the right term and the right price, Campbell is back.

The Blackhawks signed Campbell to a one-year deal worth approximately $2 million, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, as the NHL’s free agency period opened on Friday.

It’s a good, affordable deal, just like the one the Blackhawks signed Brad Richards to entering the 2014-15 season. Unlike with Richards, there shouldn’t be much adjustment time for Campbell. While the Blackhawks’ roster has changed plenty since Campbell was traded, the core is still fairly intact. Campbell’s return helps a defense that missed Johnny Oduya last season.

The 37-year-old Campbell has played in every regular-season game with the Florida Panthers since he joined them in the 2011-12 season. He had six goals and 25 assists last season, the final season of the eight-year, $57.1 million deal he signed with the Blackhawks in 2008-09.

The Blackhawks had about $5 million in cap space, per generalfanager.com, prior to the Campbell deal. Whether or not they do anything else today remains to be seen.

General manager Stan Bowman said at the draft last weekend that he wouldn’t rule out getting a veteran defenseman. Now he has Campbell back in the fold.

Blackhawks have options, for the right price

Blackhawks have options, for the right price

Those tremors you felt Wednesday was the hockey world shaking things up.

They were the most exciting 30 minutes of offseason we’ve seen in some time, with the Montreal Canadiens sending P.K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber and Edmonton trading Taylor Hall to New Jersey for Adam Larsson. Oh, and coveted potential unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, sending teams like Toronto, Detroit and Buffalo to their Plan Bs.

For the Blackhawks, they weren’t players for any of the top-tier guys. But with the free-agent “frenzy” about to begin on Friday, the Blackhawks, who have a little shopping to do, can’t get caught in the ripple effect.

Most of the top UFAs are already off the board, from Stamkos to Keith Yandle to Alex Goligoski. Prices could go up on those remaining, and that could include some guys the Blackhawks were targeting.

As general manager Stan Bowman said last Saturday following the NHL Draft, the Blackhawks no longer have a salary-cap problem. Generalfanager.com shows the Blackhawks have a little more than $5 million in cap space. That’s after the Blackhawks made two cap friendly re-signings with forward Brandon Mashinter and defenseman Michal Rozsival. According to Pierre LeBrun, Mashinter and Rozsival will earn $575,00 and $600,000, respectively, this season.

So the Blackhawks enter the weekend with some spending cash, and they may be spending some of it immediately on a familiar guy. Andy Strickland reported on Thursday that Brian Campbell, who was part of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, could return on a one-year deal. Nothing would be official until Friday, when free agency begins.

If Campbell does return it probably won’t be for much cash. But Campbell knows the Blackhawks are still built to win and he won’t be hurting for money. It could be another sensible move like Brad Richards from the summer of 2014. Richards, just bought out by the New York Rangers after the team’s trip to the Stanley Cup final, just wanted to get back to the final. He signed a one-year deal worth $2 million here. While Richards was up and down in the regular season he was great in the playoffs, capping the Blackhawks’ Cup run with that beautiful pass to Patrick Kane in Game 6. The Blackhawks aren’t what they were in 2014 but they’re not in bad shape, either. A good, affordable tweak or two could have them thinking about another lengthy postseason run.

Keep something else in mind: just about every July the Blackhawks pick up someone we didn’t anticipate. Richards was a good example of that, too.

The Blackhawks have a little cash to spend but they also have future considerations; please see Artemi Panarin, who the Blackhawks can start negotiating with on Friday. It’s not just about what they spend this season, it’s about what they save for that potential deal that would start next season.

The options are out there to improve this team but the Blackhawks have to be prudent. They can’t afford not to be.