With the Chicago Blackhawks out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the time has come to look ahead to various events on the offseason calendar
With the conference finals going on without the Chicago Blackhawks, we fans must now push forward into the offseason. Here is a list of the dates/events to keep your eye on.
NHL Expansion Draft: June 21
The first big event on the offseason calendar is the NHL expansion draft. The Vegas Golden Knights will be picking from the list of unprotected players per pre-assigned rules.
The players are selected between June 18-20 but not revealed until June 21. Fans will not see the lists of players exposed, but we can draw our own conclusions. I am hoping the lists will get leaked online at some point.
2017 NHL Draft: June 23-24
The NHL draft will be in Chicago at the United Center on June 23 and June 24. Tickets are still available for $10 per person. The New Jersey Devils own the first pick.
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The Blackhawks are currently picking 26th, 57th, 91st, 119th, 134th, 144th, 150th, 170th, 181st and 216th. So the ’Hawks could be adding players to the prospect pool or could trade up to get a guy who might start the year in the AHL.
I will be in attendance tweeting updates. My thoughts are the Blackhawks should focus on defensive prospects.
Start of free agency: July 1
After the drafts, the next big date is the start of free agency.
The Blackhawks currently have three unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents. The UFAs are Brian Campbell, Johnny Oduya and Andrew Desjardins. The expectation is that Desi might be the only player returning from that group.
During this period, other teams can try to sign the Blackhawks’ free agents to contracts or offer sheets, although nobody really uses offer sheets anymore in the NHL.
There are several other AHL free agents listed here.
2017 Blackhawks Prospect Camp
The Chicago Blackhawks will host a prospect camp a few weeks before the Blackhawks Convention. They will bring in draft picks, AHL players and undrafted free agents to work out.
I believe former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns has the record with the most prospect camp appearances. I expect to see Anthony Louis and John Hayden at this year’s camp. Notables from last year were Hayden, Louis, Vinnie Hinostroza and Tanner Kero.
2017 Chicago Blackhawks Convention:
It is the 10th annual convention at the Hilton Chicago from July 21-23. It features panels from current Blackhawks players and alumni. You also have the opportunity to get autographs and pictures from current and former Blackhawks. I have attended the last two years and will be going to my third this year.
Last year, I got autographs from Tyler Motte, Brent Sopel, Colin Fraser and Adam Burish. I got pictures with Kempny, Kero, Kyle Baun, Sopel, Burish and Pat Foley. Two years ago I got my picture taken with the Stanley Cup and the Cup keeper in addition to a picture with Scott Darling. The highlight of my two conventions was wearing Frank Pellico’s Stanley Cup championship rings.
I highly recommend attending the convention.
2017 Training Camp Festival
The training camp festival is a family oriented event held before the start of the exhibition schedule. The Blackhawks cap off the day with a scrimmage with the United Center with open seating. The tickets are usually $5 apiece. The game is treated like a real game with the Blackhawks introduction and National Anthem.
After the festival, we are back to NHL regular-season hockey and another quest for the Cup!