Today is the last day without regular season NHL hockey for a long time and even though it’s been a shorter offseason, it seems like forever since the Tampa Bay Lightning finished-off the Montreal Canadiens for the 2021 Stanley Cup. After the offseason the Blackhawks have had, both on and off the ice, the regular season getting underway is a breath of fresh, autumn air as the expectations for the organization have gone much, much higher since the end of last season.
• While the focus has been towards the future for the past few months, you can always count on Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks trying to turn back the clock by bringing in a former player to try to revamp their career. The latest is defenseman Erik Gustafsson.
• The signing was rumored Sunday afternoon and made official on Monday morning. One-year, $800,000 deal for a player that is just two seasons removed from a 60-point season in 2018-19 with Chicago. After being traded by the Blackhawks at the 2020 trade deadline, Gustafsson has played for the Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, and Montreal Canadiens. He was with the New York Islanders on a PTO deal in training camp, but was released.
He’s Back: Blackhawks Sign Erik Gustafsson to a One-Year Deal https://t.co/4KJVVRr33K
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) October 10, 2021
• We know who he is. At 29-years-old, there’s nothing new you’re going to get with Gustafsson. A defensive liability with moderate offensive upside. With Caleb Jones and Wyatt Kalynuk hurt to begin the season, the Blackhawks were looking for help on the back-end, apparently. But I don’t get it. Couldn’t young players like Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, or Jakub Galvas provide the same kind of performance out of the role Gustafsson will likely play? It feels like a waste of a roster spot that could have gone to a young defenseman, who might figure more prominently into the Blackhawks future.
• The Blackhawks need to get down to 23 players on their opening night roster by tonight. They’ll also need to be salary cap compliant. On Sunday, the club sent three players to the IceHogs with Alex Nylander, Collin Delia, and Malcolm Subban being cut from training camp.
Blackhawks Assign Alex Nylander to the IceHogs, Waive Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia https://t.co/iyNglvMm6I
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) October 10, 2021
• Nylander will be exempt from going through the waiver process, but both Subban and Delia will have to clear by this afternoon. I feel like there is a chance that Subban may be plucked from the waiver wire, but it may be more probable that most-to-all NHL teams are going to begin the season with the guys they currently have in-house.
you: spent 6 years pencilling this guy into your championship roster of the future, following his AHL progress, watching him at rookie tournaments
other team's GMs: we're just going to keep our own version of him, thanks
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) October 10, 2021
• A good reminder from JFresh.
• The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus is a lot like myself in his summation of the Blackhawks heading into this season. There are two polar opposite outcomes the team could have, and both are incredibly likely. There is a ton of boom or bust with this club.
I'm of two minds on these Blackhawks. So in an effort to determine just who these guys are and what they might do, I debated the most obnoxious troll I know: myself.
My (our?) column: https://t.co/oE04cP39Ly
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 10, 2021
• I’d love to have the team boom, of course. But the bust potential on the Blackhawks is too great to ignore. My head tells me that the most likely outcome places the Blackhawks on the cusp of the postseason, but on the outside looking in at the end of the year.
• One of the most important Blackhawks this season is new goaltender Marc-André Fleury. He’ll be the opening night starter for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night when they open the season against the Colorado Avalanche, there is no doubting that. He’ll have an opportunity to continue his already Hall of Fame resumé.
Marc-Andre Fleury will be donning new threads in 2021-22. He has recorded an opening-night shutout twice in his career (Oct. 5, 2006 & Oct. 3, 2013). How will he do if he debuts with the @NHLBlackhawks on Oct. 13?
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 10, 2021
• If you’re a betting person, I say but a few bucks on the potential shutout, just for fun.
• In league news, the New York Rangers have signed Mika Zibanejad to a hefty eight-year contract extension:
Was entering final year of 5 year $5.35M cap hit deal and set to be UFA after this year.
Rep’d by Monir Kalgoumhttps://t.co/yuQHcTNJXR
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) October 10, 2021
• Speaking of new deals in New York, the Islanders have signed long-time NHL veterans Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise to identical one-year deals:
Chara/Parise (NYI) contracts now filed with the NHL. Both one-year deals at a $750,000 and potential $750,000 in performance bonuses.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 10, 2021
• Islanders have to be close to the oldest team in the league now, right?
• In Chicago sports news, the Blackhawks used their supportive mojo that worked for the Chicago Sky to help the White Sox in yesterday’s ALDS Game 3.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 10, 2021
• It worked as the Sox beat the Astros 12-6 to avoid elimination for at least one more game.
• Also working the cross-over mojo on Sunday, the Sky and the Bears showed their support for each other and again, it worked!
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) October 10, 2021
• Bears beat the Raiders, convincingly.
The Khalil Mack Revenge Game: BEARS 20, RAIDERS 9https://t.co/bFxmdyw66O
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) October 11, 2021
• While the Sky took a 1-0 series lead in the WNBA Finals over Phoenix!
Chicago takes Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, 91-77 over Phoenix.
◻️ Kahleah Copper: 21 PTS, 10 REB
◻️ Candace Parker: 16 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 10, 2021
• Chicago sports are looking up, eh?
• Speaking of looking up, the rest of the NHL is looking up at the Tampa Bay Lightning at the top of the league. They just extended their head coach through the 2024-25 season as Jon Cooper has signed a three-year deal today.
Three more years of Cooooop!
We have signed head coach Jon Cooper to a three-year contract extension through the 2024-25 season.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) October 11, 2021
• I still don’t see how anyone tops the Lightning this season. I honestly think we will see a three-peat.
— NHL (@NHL) October 11, 2021
• My body is ready.
• That will do it for today. Hope you all have a great Monday!