It is standard for teams to have to ship off players after a championship run, and it has never been more prevalent in the NHL than during this current salary cap era. With the shrinking cap designed to create parity, the Chicago Blackhawks have found themselves in this situation for the second time since 2010. Parting ways with veteran players leaves a hole, one that can be filled in by fresh young talent inside the Blackhawks’ system.
It wasn’t as bad as the 2010 off-season, but the Blackhawks did have to say goodbye to two important forwards: Michael Frolik, and Dave Bolland. With Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman taking care of the contracts of everyone else, however, the Blackhawks will defend their title with many of the players they won it with.
After Bowman announced the signing of RFA Marcus Kruger during the end of Blackhawks’ Prospect Camp, he explained that his signing would be the last big move the organization makes in the summer, and the rest of the roster will consist of youngsters from the Blackhawks’ affiliate in the AHL, the Rockford IceHogs.
Word around the Blackhawks’ camp is that center Brandon Pirri will get a shot in the second line pivot position, Bolland’s original placement, until Michal Handzus was brought in at the trade deadline. Handzus would likely center the fourth line, while Andrew Shaw stays on the third line. Pirri led the American League in scoring in 2012-13, with a skilled game that is sure to fit in nicely on the ‘Hawks.
Frolik was a fixture on the penalty kill, as well as the Blackhawks’ fourth line. The young winger could be replaced with third-year pro Jeremy Morin, who has shown he is ready to play under the big lights of the NHL. Morin had three short-handed goals for the IceHogs this season, something that is a huge positive when looking to replace Frolik.
If these two spots are the only vacancies the Blackhawks will have to fill in training camp, they are in good shape. However, Morin and Pirri are not set in stone to make the jump, and anyone can impress come September.
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