THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Chicago Blackhawks

The Hockey News
Patrick Sharp. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

2014-15 record: 46-21-15

Acquisitions: Michael Leighton, Kyle Cumiskey, Brad Richards, Pierre-Cedric Labrie

Departures: Jason LaBarbera, Brandon Bollig

Top five fantasy players: Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Chicago fell short of a third Stanley Cup in five years, but its 2013-14 was still excellent. The Hawks were a Game 7 overtime goal away from the Cup final and return with the same stars and a couple notable upgrades. Read more

Washington Capitals unveil Winter Classic jersey – what do you think?

Washington's Winter Classic 2015 jersey. (Courtesy the Washington Capitals)

The 2015 Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015 will be at Nationals Park and played between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks.

Today, the Capitals released what their jerseys would look like for the big event. What do you think of the look? (All photos from the Washington Capitals. The last one is photoshopped to show the ‘C’ and the Winter Classic logo)

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Rumor Roundup: Bruins face excruciating Johnny Boychuk trade decision

Johnny Boychuk and local rescue dog Kona (Steve Babineau/Getty Images)

As NHL training camps open, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks still remain above the $69 million salary cap. Questions persist over how they’ll address the issue.

The Blackhawks must shed more than $2.2 million to become cap compliant before the season begins in October. For months it’s been speculated defenseman Johnny Oduya ($3.38-million cap hit) or fellow blueliner Nick Leddy ($2.7 million) could be moved in a cost-cutting trade.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Leddy could be odd man out, citing the $3.4 million it’ll take to qualify his rights next summer. He speculates the Blackhawks could prefer keeping the defense pairing of Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson intact for a Stanley Cup run this season.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes Michal Rozsival ($2.2 million) will also be eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Given his age (36) and injury history, Myers doesn’t expect much interest in Rozsival from rival teams. Read more

Why Kevin Hayes chose the New York Rangers

Kevin Hayes (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Kevin Hayes is one of the biggest names playing at the Traverse City prospects tournament in Michigan. Heck, he’s been one of the biggest names in hockey this summer. That’s because his senior season at Boston College was so scintillating that teams were fiending to sign him up once it became apparent he would not sign with the team that drafted him, the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Rumor Roundup: Can Ryan Johansen and the Columbus Blue Jackets agree on a contract this weekend?

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

After weeks of silence, the stalled contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen’s agent are expected to resume this weekend. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports agent Kurt Overhardt is expected to meet with club management for its first face-to-face discussions.

Portzline claims the two sides have agreed to a two-year bridge deal, but remain apart by about $3 million per season. The Jackets are reportedly offering $3.5 million annually, while Overhardt is seeking $6.5 million.

If a deal isn’t reached by Wednesday, Portzline notes Johansen will be asked to vacate his space in the Blue Jackets dressing room at Nationwide Arena and will be barred from the building. That appears extreme, but it’s likely for insurance purposes. Johansen cannot train with the club without a contract unless he pays his own insurance costs. Read more

Chicago’s Jim Cornelison sings Star Spangled Banner on The Colbert Report

Jim Cornelison. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

This weekend marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. Written by Sir Francis Scott Key in 1814 as the British bombarded Baltimore’s Fort McHenry at a crucial battle in what was effectively a second American Independence War, the tune became the official national anthem of the United States in 1931.

In hockey, the best national anthem singer has to be Jim Cornelison, who sings at every Chicago Blackhawks home game. His powerful rendition is made even stronger by the fans who cheer alongside him as he belts out the verse. Read more

Top 10 trade candidates for 2014-15

Cody Franson. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Martin St-Louis, Marian Gaborik, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Miller and Roberto Luongo: these were some of the big names who were traded during the 2013-14 season. Who is in the cross-hairs this season? We look at 10 trade candidates who could move because of their contract situation, or because their team decides it’s time to go in a different direction.

Cody Franson
Franson has signed three consecutive one-year extensions with the Maple Leafs, but this time he’ll be a UFA when his contract expires at the end of this season and, at 27, he’s in prime position to score a big deal. The 6-foot-5, 213-pound blueliner will surely be looking for a real commitment from the team this time and if he doesn’t get it, the Maple Leafs will have to trade him by the deadline. He’s an important part of Toronto’s (bad) defense and an extension would likely make him the second-highest paid player on Toronto’s blueline. But does management believe he’s worth that long-term investment when they’ve already put down on Dion Phaneuf and Jake Gardiner? If not, they’ll be looking to get something for him. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Sharks & Coyotes trade buzz

Patrick Marleau (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As the San Jose Sharks prepare for the start of training camp next week, questions hang over the future of several players.

Though Sharks GM Doug Wilson backtracked somewhat from talk of making significant changes to his roster, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz still believes Wilson is open to moving Patrick Marleau for a deal agreeable to all sides.

Marleau and Joe Thornton are both starting three-year contracts containing full no-movement clauses. So far neither player has shown any indication they want out of San Jose, but the Sharks recently stripped Marleau of his alternate captaincy and Thornton of the captaincy, which generated speculation it was done to force the pair out of San Jose. Coach Todd McLellan, however, insisted it was done merely to start this season with a clean slate.

Kurz also believes Antti Niemi’s stint as the Sharks’ undisputed starting goaltender is over. Kurz expects the 31-year-old netminder will be challenged by backup Alex Stalock. With Niemi eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Kurz feels it’s time for the Sharks to “start phasing out” Niemi by shopping him once Stalock proves capable of handling the starter’s job.
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