Building a New Core, Lawsuit(s) Update, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Building a New Core, Lawsuit(s) Update, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Yesterday, I talked about the “dog days” of summer in the NHL offseason, and I made it a funny little joke with Dylan Strome and his dog, Wrigley. Today, it truly feels like the dog days of summer, but without the dog this time. We got the Brandon Hagel contract extension yesterday as well, which was a fair deal for both sides as Hagel gets some security with a three-year deal (and arbitration rights once the contract is over in 2024), and the Blackhawks get fair value for him at a $1.5M AAV cap hit. But we are at the point in the offseason where the Hagel and Alexander Nylander deals are going to be the big “on ice” news for the Blackhawks.

•   With the moves made this offseason, including the Seth Jones trade and extension, the addition of Jake McCabe, and the first extension of Brandon Hagel, the Blackhawks are putting together pieces of what is starting to look like the new core group of players in Chicago as the “One Goal” era of hockey begins to come to a close with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane as the last two players left on the team. Their futures in Chicago are locked-in through the 2022-23 season, which is creeping closer, and their next contracts beyond that 2022-23 season are going to be very interesting to see how the Blackhawks will handle it.

•   Toews missed all of last season with a health issue, while Kane played at an elite level and finished in the top-five of the league in scoring. This season isn’t a given for Toews again, but signs are pointing in the right direction that he will rejoin the team and will likely be a somewhat serviceable version of his old self at the very least. With both of them reaching their mid-30’s soon, it would feel wrong for either to not retire as members of the Blackhawks organization and play their entire careers in Chicago. But real conversations have to be had about what each of their futures on the ice and on the books look like for the Blackhawks moving forward.

•   Rebuilding and rebounding the Blackhawks beyond Toews and Kane is a task that I do not envy for the marketing team in Chicago, but with Jones, McCabe, and Hagel already locked in, players like Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat, Philipp Kurashev, and Dominik Kubalík will all need new contracts soon and are likely going to be the next pieces that the Blackhawks try to lock-up long-term as key pieces to their next core of players. Add in young players on the rise in the prospect system like Nicolas Beaudin, Ian Mitchell, Lukas Reichel, Isaak Phillips, and Alec Regula, there’s reason to believe the next group of young players  in Chicago is going to help move the organization in the right direction to be playoff contenders once again.

•   Speaking of Seth Jones and new contracts, this offseason has seen a lot of young defensemen in the NHL getting massive deals. Jones is signed to an eight-year extension starting next season at a $9.5M AAV cap hit. We’ve also seen players like Zach Werenski, Cale Makar, and Dougie Hamilton all land long-term deals with $9M+ AAV cap hits. It seems if you are your teams top defenseman and you are under the age of 27-28 years old, you are going to be getting a massive deal, no matter what.

•   We saw it happen again yesterday with the Edmonton Oilers signing Darnell Nurse to an eight-year contract with a $9.25M AAV cap hit…

•   Nurse is a lot like Seth Jones, in that he is a top minutes-eater with a high offensive upside, but is on the wrong end of the defensive charts for where you would want your No. 1 defenseman to be. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a top defense-first defenseman like Adam Pelech, who was in the conversation for the Norris Trophy this past season, also earned an eight-year contract extension with the New York Islanders…

•   But as you can see, scoring goals and tallying points are much sexier in the NHL for defensemen than stopping opponents from scoring and tallying points. Pelech, who on paper is a much more effective player at his position than Nurse, is going to make significantly less over his eight-year deal. Lou Lamoriello strikes again.

•   While things on the ice are looking up for the Blackhawks, off the ice continue to be an absolute mess. Yesterday, from TSN’s Rick Westhead, we learned that Susan Loggans, the attorney for the unnamed players in the sexual assault and abuse lawsuits against the Blackhawks, has reached out to SafeSport to conduct their own investigation into the organization and the alleged cover-up by Stan Bowman and the team of the sexual abuse by former video coach Brad Aldrich.

•   The U.S. Olympic Committee created the U.S. Center for SafeSport in 2012 and the centre became an independent organization in March 2017. The centre has exclusive jurisdiction in the U.S. to investigate and pass judgment on accusations of misconduct in Olympic and Paralympic sports. This is relevant to the Blackhawks case since Stan Bowman, as it stands now, is set to be the General Manager of the 2022 Team USA Hockey team for the Beijing Winter Olympics.

•   There has been public pressure to put Bowman on administrative leave from both his position with the Blackhawks and his position with USA Hockey. With the legal process still underway with the lawsuits and allegations against the Blackhawks, we’ll see where things go with the request made to SafeSport. The Blackhawks have funded their own independent investigation into the matters with the Chicago-based law firm of Jenner and Block, with the findings of that investigation reportedly set to be made public.

•   Yesterday we also saw the addition of Jack Eichel, current Buffalo Sabres captain (for now), to the Twitter world. In a now-deleted tweet from Jon Vogl, this was apparently being called a fake profile of Eichel’s, but he put that to rest by citing himself as a source for the profile…

•   Changing gears, yesterday was the opening of the crosstown classic between the Cubs and White Sox. Front and center for the action was former Blackhawk Chris Chelios. This is the crossover content we love at Bleacher Nation…

•   To close out today’s bullets, some more crossover content, this time with the Bulls. With Team USA Basketball last night, Zach LaVine helped the U.S. to a Gold Medal over France with an 87-82 win. LaVine celebrated the win in prime fashion…

•   With the offseason moves the Blackhawks have made, plus the moves the Bulls have made, and the optimism surrounding Justin Fields and the Bears, this is a very interesting time in Chicago sports. Not to mention the fire sale on the North Side and the resurgence of the White Sox on the South Side, and Chicago is squarely on the map across all four major Men’s sports.

•   And one final note from last night’s Team USA Men’s Basketball win, JaVale McGee and his mom Pam became the first Mother-Son duo to both win Olympic Basketball Gold Medals with Team USA. An incredible honor to share.

•   That will do it for today. Enjoy your Saturday!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.