The Cubs haven’t sold (completely), the White Sox haven’t bought (at all), and the Bulls — like the Blackhawks — are happily enjoying their summer before training camps open. The Bears are currently in training camp, giving Chicago fans some… hope… for the upcoming season. To push? Let’s get into a little hockey conversation in a quiet week.
- USA Hockey did not announce its reduced roster of 25 players Tuesday. But they’ve packed their bags for Edmonton for the WJC, which kicks off next week. Four Blackhawks prospects are in the running for their roster: Frank Nazar, Landon Slaggert, Dominique James and Wyatt Kaiser. The Notre Dame bag in the pile pictured below is likely Slaggert’s.
- The Blackhawks will jointly announce their next game in Milwaukee at 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday. The press conference will be held with the good folks at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, which will serve as the venue for the game.
- Scott Powers at Athleticism breaks down each of the Blackhawks’ 2022 draft picks in depth this week. He started the two-game series on Tuesday and started at the back of the draft class and is progressing.
- One of the perspectives that intrigues me the most in this class is Dominique James, who will return to Minnesota-Duluth for a second season (where he would have been coached, in part, by current Blackhawks assistant Derek Plante). Here’s what Powers had to say about why the Blackhawks drafted James:
“James was skipped the previous two drafts, but he rose to prominence last season while playing a key role as a rookie at Minnesota Duluth and making the USA World Junior Team. As Corey Pronman of The Athletic noted in his review, “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, most importantly, Blackhawks development camp, you’ll know that one of the prospects who really jumped off the ice at home was Aidan Thompson. Here’s what Powers quoted when explaining why the Blackhawks picked Thompson, who, like James, was an overage pick in this year’s draft:
“Skating is probably one of his three biggest assets,” said Lincoln Stars coach Rocky Russo, who coached Thompson in the USHL last season. “He is able to separate. He is able to reach top speed very quickly and make plays in high-speed traffic. So I think it 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 you wouldn’t expect, his power-play passing ability was special. He’s been a very important penalty killer for us, a key player to make faceoffs in all situations, and he’s also been one of our captains this year and has provided exceptional leadership on and off the ice.
- I’m looking forward to the second half of this series as Powers does a very good job on every player. And the higher you go 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 to be confident in the early stages of rebuilding under Kyle Davidson.
- The New Jersey Devils avoided arbitration with one of their best young forwards, Jesper Bratt. They were separated by more than $2 million on their arbitration claims, which was surprising. It is therefore wise to sign a contract for at least one year for the franchise to keep a talented and 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 did.
- As Davidson said when the team introduced Luke Richardson, King was put in a tough spot with a dysfunctional roster and broken systems last season. He did what he could with the list given to him following the end of the Jeremy Colliton debacle. He’s a respected trainer, so we’re glad he’s here for another run on Richardson’s staff.
- You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate Vin Scully’s incredible legacy on the mic. He was the voice of baseball for the Dodgers for generations — plural. He died Tuesday night, fittingly, as the Dodgers faced his first favorite team, the Giants. We posted a beautiful tribute to Scully late last night.
- Finally, we’ll leave you with Scully’s closing comments to the Dodgers — no, baseball fans — at the end of his final show. RIP to a gentleman, a sports ambassador and a class number.