The Cubs didn’t sell (completely), the White Sox didn’t buy (at all), and the Bulls — like the Blackhawks — are happily enjoying their summer before training camps open. The Bears are in their training camp right now, giving Chicago fans some… hope… for the season to come. Bear down? Let’s jump into a little hockey chatter in a quiet week.
- USA Hockey didn’t announce their cut-down, 25-man roster on Tuesday. But they did pack their bags for Edmonton for the WJC, which begins next week. Four Blackhawks prospects are in the mix for their roster: Frank Nazar, Landon Slaggert, Dominic James and Wyatt Kaiser. The Notre Dame bag in the pile pictured below is likely Slaggert’s.
- The Blackhawks will jointly announce their upcoming game in Milwaukee at 11 AM CT on Wednesday. The press conference will be held with the fine folks at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, which will serve as the location of the game.
- Scott Powers at The Athletic is breaking down each of the Blackhawks’ 2022 draft choices in depth this week. He started the two-part series on Tuesday, and began at the back of the draft class and is working his way forward.
- One of the prospects who intrigues me most from this class is Dominic James, who will return to Minnesota-Duluth for a sophomore season (where he would have been coached, in part, by now-Blackhawks assistant Derek Plante). Here’s what Powers had to say regarding why the Blackhawks drafted James:
“James was skipped in the previous two drafts, but he made himself known this past season while playing a key role as a freshman at Minnesota Duluth and making the U.S. World Junior team. As The Athletic’s Corey Pronman noted in his evaluation, “James is a very strong skater who competes at a high level.” That’s what the Blackhawks want.”
- If you’ve been in this space since the draft and, especially, the Blackhawks’ development camp, you’ll know that one of the prospects who has really jumped off the ice at us has been Aidan Thompson. Here’s what Powers cited when discussing why the Blackhawks selected Thompson, who — like James — was an over-age pick in this year’s draft:
“Skating is probably one of his top three assets,” said Lincoln Stars coach Rocky Russo, who coached Thompson in the USHL last season. “He’s able to separate. He’s able to get to top speed very quickly and make plays in in traffic at high speed. So I think that he fits the mold of what they’re trying to build there now. … Aidan, obviously, was a very talented player, we knew that, but his ability to facilitate, to generate offense from situations that you wouldn’t expect it to come from, his passing ability on the power play was special. He was a very important penalty killer for us, a key guy to take faceoffs in all situations, and he was also one of our captains this year and provided exceptional leadership on and off the ice.”
- I’m looking forward to the second half of this series because Powers does really good work on each player. And the higher you climb in the draft, obviously the skill level goes up as well. The Blackhawks did very well in the 2022 NHL Draft, and digging deeper gives us more reason for confidence in the beginning steps in the rebuild under Kyle Davidson.
- The New Jersey Devils avoided arbitration with one of their better young forwards, Jesper Bratt. They were more than $2 million apart on their asks heading to arbitration, which was surprising. So getting at least a one-year deal done is wise for the franchise to keep a talented, productive player
- On this week’s Blackhawks Talk Podcast, assistant coach Derek King told Pat Boyle and James Neveau that he didn’t even look for another job. He wanted to stay in Chicago, and the Blackhawks made that happen.
- As Davidson said when the team introduced Luke Richardson, King was put in a tough situation with a dysfunctional roster and broken systems this past season. He did what he could with the roster he was handed in the wake of the Jeremy Colliton debacle coming to an end. He’s a respected coach, so we’re glad he’ll be around for another run on Richardson’s staff.
- You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the incredible legacy of Vin Scully on the mic. He was the voice of Dodgers baseball to generations — plural. He passed away on Tuesday night, fittingly while the Dodgers were playing his first favorite team, the Giants. We posted a wonderful tribute to Scully late last night.
- Finally, we’ll leave you with Scully’s closing comments to Dodgers — no, baseball fans — at the conclusion of his final broadcast. RIP to a gentleman, an ambassador of sport, and a class act.