Chicago Blackhawks

Kane: Physical presence would be 'nice'

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Kane: Physical presence would be 'nice'

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 6:56 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Patrick Kane sported a shiner around his right eye, one of several colorful souvenirs he probably has after getting knocked around pretty well by the very physical Vancouver Canucks.

So might it be a good idea for the Chicago Blackhawks to get another guy who can give some of that back?

Yeah, I think so, Kane said. Going forward that would be nice to have.

The Blackhawks wont go through a big roster overhaul again this summer. They wont be facing the money crunch that demanded it last summer. But they do need to acquire some grit and mettle again to let the opposition know the Blackhawks are not going to stand for their stars getting beaten up.

See, as much as getting rid of a lot of guys last summer, it was getting rid of the same type of guys that hurt. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager they muscled their ways into tough areas, crashed nets, won puck battles and defended teammates against physical opponents. They were the abrasive grease that helped the sleek Blackhawks machine and its skill guys running at top speed.

Much of that was gone this season, or at least it wasnt there on a consistent basis. Hats off to guys like Viktor Stalberg and Michael Frolik taking it upon themselves to throw a few licks out there, despite it not really being part of their game. But so many of the Blackhawks skill players had to do it all: get pucks, score and most of all, defend themselves against opponents who were trying to erase them.

I think there's something to that extent. Whether it's team toughness or across the board, we need to be tougher to play against, coach Joel Quenneville said. Whether we address personnel, that's an area we like to make sure we're definitely harder to play against.

Jonathan Toews said that for guys like him and Kane, a summer like this is good to mature physically and be able to play that style more. Sure they could do that, but they have enough on their plates. Just go out and get another guy who can take the physical pressure off the guys who were expected to carry this team to the postseason late in the game.

The Blackhawks put up the good fight against the bruising Canucks and were one goal away from taking a trip to the second round in San Jose. Their top players took their knocks this season in the process and were still getting battered in Game 7. Acquiring a guy who can get in someones face and keep Kanes safe when that happens could be just what the Blackhawks need to get back to long postseasons.

It's always nice to have someone who can fight and be a force on the ice who can also play, Kane said. We had guys who could do it this year, guys like (Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer). (John) Scott had a good presence in the series. But it would be nice to get someone, for sure.

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

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.