Olympic Roster Projections, Kotkaniemi Deadline, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Olympic Roster Projections, Kotkaniemi Deadline, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The 2021-22 season is approaching, training camps begin in a few short days around the league, and the NHL is once again sending players to the Winter Olympics. And today is the first college football Saturday AND it’s a three-day weekend? This is a good day.

•   Speaking of the NHL sending players to the Winter Olympics again, there’s a number of Blackhawks players who will have the chance to represent their countries in February.

•   Players like Patrick Kane, Marc-André Fleury, Philipp Kurashev, Dominik Kubalík, and Lukas Reichel feel like locks for their nations, but there’s at least a half-dozen others who should be in the mix this year.

•   Speaking of which, JFresh ran a number of fan voting polls to see how they would make their Olympic rosters for the big five countries (USA, Canada, Sweden, Russia, and Finland). The fans have spoken on Team USA and the Blackhawks have three players making the cut…

•   Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Seth Jones have the public opinion behind them to make the U.S. squad. It would be awesome to see three Blackhawks players wearing the U.S. sweater at the 2022 Winter Olympics, but I’m asking USA Hockey to change which sweater they would be wearing.

•   Seriously, those need to change.

•   More news around Team USA yesterday as the assistant coaches for the Olympic coaching staff were announced.

•   Moving to Canada’s roster from the JFresh polling center, the Blackhawks don’t have a lot of realistic Canadian options for arguably the deepest talent pool in the NHL, but there is at least one player you can pencil-into the lineup…

•   Marc-André Fleury is the consensus backup to Carey Price for the 2022 Canadian roster, but that would be the only representation from the Blackhawks. That is, unless Jonathan Toews comes back to the Blackhawks this season fully healthy and plays like the Toews we saw during Chicago’s Stanley Cup runs in the early and mid-2010’s. But don’t expect that to happen.

•   The only other country in the big five that you would assume the Blackhawks would have a player representing them is Finland with goaltender Kevin Lankinen. You would assume, right? Apparently the JFresh polling audience thinks otherwise…

•   I mean, being demoted from presumed starter to backup this summer didn’t do much for Lankinen’s standing in the NHL after a breakout rookie season last year. But there’s a chance this season that Marc-André Fleury will not be shouldering the kind of workload in net that he has in the past and Lankinen could find himself in a closer to 50-50 split of the starts for the Blackhawks in 2021-22.

•   Some more information coming out regarding the parameters surrounding getting NHL players back to the Olympics…

•   COVID-19 is going to present a challenge to the NHL season and the Olympics in February. I’d like to think that things regarding COVID will go back in the right direction again once we get to the Winter Olympic period, but one thing that I’ve learned over the last 18+ months is that you cannot trust society. So we shall see where the NHL and the world is at with COVID by that time. Hopefully we are in a position where the Games will go off with as few issues as possible.

•   Here are the deadlines to keep in mind for the NHL’s involvement in the 2022 Winter Olympics…

•   Expect the participating countries to announce their initial camp invite lists in the next few weeks and we can get the hype train started out of speculation station.

•   Speaking of deadlines, the Montreal Canadiens have until 4:00 p.m. CT to decide what to do about Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

•   The Carolina Hurricanes signed Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1M offer sheet in retaliation to the offer sheet that the Canadiens signed Sebastian Aho to two years ago. The Canadiens could match the offer, which many view as an extreme over-payment for the 21-year-old, or allow him to walk and leave the Hurricanes with the overpayment. If the Canadiens do not match the offer, they receive a first-round and a third-round pick from Carolina as compensation. The plot thickens…

•   In AHL news, the renovations continue at the BMO Harris Bank Center, home of the Rockford IceHogs.

•   The updates are part of the $23M investment into the arena as part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ purchase of their AHL affiliate earlier this year. Rockford’s home opener this season is on November 6th.

•   Moving down the ladder from the NHL to the AHL and now to the ECHL, the league is adding a new team to the fold this season with the Iowa Heartlanders. With their inaugural season upon them this year, the Heartlanders revealed their sweaters yesterday and they are *chef’s kiss*…

•   If it’s Iowa, it’s black and yellow, right? While their logo looks exactly like something you’d see from an EA Sports Create-A-Team library, it works.

•   The white version is just as good, too. Simple, yet effective.

•   Speaking of sweater reveals, the Minnesota Wild have revealed their look for the 2022 Winter Classic as they host the St. Louis Blues.

•   That is…a look.

•   👀

•   Tomorrow…

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

•   The Labor Day Weekend will push the Monday Mailbag to Tuesday, but still be sure to send your Blackhawks questions to me on Twitter using the hashtag #BNHawksMailbag or email them to me using Mario.tirabassi at bleachernation dot com and I will get them answered!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

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