Chat with Scott Powers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Thursday, Chicago Blackhawks beat reporter Scott Powers stops by to chat.
Powers, who joined ESPNChicago.com in 2009, covers the Blackhawks for both ESPN Radio 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning reporter who has been reporting on sports of all levels, from preps to pros throughout the Midwest since 1997.
Send your questions now and join Powers Thursday at 11 a.m. CT/noon ET!
Scott Powers (12:01 PM)
Hello all, thanks for joining me earlier this Thursday. Hope everyone is having a good day. I'll be here for 45 minutes or so.
With the new cap proposed by the NHL, what do you see of new contracts for Kane, Toews, others?
Scott Powers (12:04 PM)
Quinn, I certainly see the price tag for Kane and Toews only going up. The Blackhawks are going to want to make them among the highest paid players in the league for some time. I thought previously they needed at least $8 million each a season, but that number is higher now as the cap increases. If the cap grows as expected, $8 million won't be much money. I could see them getting contracts where their salaries increase annually as the cap rises.
mike (Chicago) [via mobile]
Hey Scott , when will bickell return to the lineup its been more then 2 week's right?
Scott Powers (12:05 PM)
Mike, Bickell is expected to practice with the team for the first time on Friday. If he doesn't have any setbacks, I would imagine he's back in the lineup in a week or so.
NY Hawks Fan (Rochester NY)
Scott - was it just me or did Q send out the big guns on that last 5 on 3 just to rub it in a little bit? Previously power plan he used guys who don't normally play on that unit. He was showing respect for Flyers but then after the cheap shots I think he wanted to send a message that we can score at will. Loved it!
Scott Powers (12:07 PM)
I didn't read it into too much. I guess that's possible. The offense certainly didn't hold back on the night, though.
Scott, the team looks unstoppable with the way they are controlling the puck and scoring at will!! My only concern is that the cheap shots (like Toews getting thrown face first into the net and Versteeg getting his head punched into the glass from behind) are going to eventually add up to key injuries. There is no fear of retaliation so do you think we'll pick up someone that instills that fear/adds protection to our stars? Bollig clearly isn't the guy and the target on our stars' backs' is growing with each game. I know the standard answer is that it's not the Hawks' game but the reality is that it is part of the sport they play.... Thanks.
Scott Powers (12:10 PM)
Kevin, I'm in a different mindset. I don't believe opponents are going to stop with the cheap shots no matter who is on the ice. It happens in every game with all teams. It's not just the Blackhawks. I think Bollig, Brookbank, etc. try to retaliate when they feel it's needed, but I don't think them or any so-called enforcer deters opponents from doing it. There are also guys out there who also like to fight and don't mind having to scrap after knocking over someone like Toews.
I know it's a little early to jump on the Raanta bandwagon...based on how he has played over his first 6 games, do you see the Hawks possibly second guessing themselves on the monster contract they gave Crawford before giving this kid a solid look?
Scott Powers (12:13 PM)
Mark, I do think it's way too early for that. Raanta has been solid, but Crawford is a better goaltender, at least now. Raanta has had his share of impressive saves over the last few weeks, but Crawford is more consistently solid. Raanta may get there, but it's early to be creating that debate. The Blackhaws should be just happy to possibly a find a long-term backup to Crawford. For the record, though, I did think giving Crawford that deal last offseason was premature. I thought he needed to prove himself over a full season to get that long-term contract.
Tyler Perlmutter (Highland Park, Illinois)
Antti Raanta's season thus far has proven he has the skill and competitiveness to compete at the NHL level. Whether he is ready to be an NHL starter or a very reliable back up is yet to be determined. Could the Hawks be facing a scenario similar to the Antti Niemi theft by the Sharks in the summer of 2010 in regards to Raanta. Do you think there are other teams that would love to swipe Raanta away from the Blackhawks?
Scott Powers (12:15 PM)
Tyler, I think there is that chance. Raanta had other suitors coming out of the Finland last year, and he chose Chicago. I'm sure other teams are taking note now of his performance. It's hard to gauge this early early whether he can be a starter in this league, but I'm sure he'll have some interest. The Blackhawks do have the advantage of Raanta being a restricted free agent, so they could match anyone's offer.
Behind Raanta on the depth chart is a goalie with no experience. Are the Blackhawks safe without Crawford while he is out?
Scott Powers (12:17 PM)
Joe, probably not. I know Bowman was going to meet his pro scouts yesterday to talk about the situation. The cap is an issue there. The Blackhawks' schedule does loosen up a bit, so it's possible Raanta could get almost all of the starts before Crawford returns. If Simpson has to play, the positive is the Blackhwaks are averaging nearly four goals a game.
why is the captain not taking so many faceoffs? Is he hurt?
Scott Powers (12:18 PM)
Mark, he's banged up his wrist on Tuesday. He's got it taped up bit, but he said it was a precaution. Sharp is taking a few more while he's healing.
Raj (Durham, NC)
Hey Scott! I guess you can't argue with results, but at what point does Kane get some offensive help on that second line? He's a first-line player, definitely better than Toews, Sharp or Hossa. I don't think Handzus and Versteeg cut it in the long run.
Scott Powers (12:20 PM)
Raj, I think a lot of people agree with you. I think you have to deal with Handzus there. Quenneville is set on that. That line may change, though, when Bickell comes back. I think Saad could move back to that second line, and Versteeg goes with Shaw and Bickell on the third line. That was at least the plan when they traded for Versteeg.
With the Hawks recent successes do you think that Bowman will stand pat around the trade deadline? I mean someone to help on the penalty kill would be a great asset to the team, however with all the depth and talent on the roster its almost unecessary to trade for anyone.
Scott Powers (12:22 PM)
Mike, yeah, I think Bowman is pleased with this team. If Crawford had to miss even more time, I think that would be the one area Bowman would have to examine. They're also tight with the cap, so it's hard to deal for anyone. Also, Teuvo Teravainen could very well end up on the roster in April. The PK is a concern, but I think they have the personnel to fix it. I still think Saad is the best fit with Kruger on that top forward pairing. Quenneville obviously prefers Handzus.
Josh (Deerfield, IL)
Were already over 30 games in and the hawks penalty kill is terrible. only 1 team has made the Stanley Cup Finals with a penalty kill under 80.00% since the 94-95 strike shortened season (08-09 red wings). The loss of Frolik has really become quite noticeable, what can the hawks do to improve the PK?
Scott Powers (12:24 PM)
Josh, I had a couple stories about this the other day, but I think it comes down to finding a better forward pairing with Kruger. Handzus has been fine there, but when you look at their success last season it was because Kruger and Frolik were so aggressive and quick to the puck. It's a slower moving PK with Handzus out there. He's defensive reliable in some ways, but you need someone is can move quickly and react. I thought Saad and Kruger made a good pair.
Jackson (Grayslake, IL)
Will Simpson get in at some point during the back-to-back this weekend?
Scott Powers (12:25 PM)
Jackson, it's possible. I think it depends on how that first game goes. I don't think the Blackhawks would mind not playing Simpson if they don't have to.
Scott, do you think the Blackhawks buyout Roszival's contract next year? I know his cap hit isn't huge, but it appears that he is expendable and Clendening seems ready.
Scott Powers (12:26 PM)
Kyle, the Blackhawks don't have any more buyouts to use. Rozsival is there to stay. Bowman knew what he was getting when he signed him for two years.
Scott - Do you think the Hawks are going to continue to carry 8 D for the remainder of the year? Or might there be a trade involved down the road to thin the herd a bit?
Scott Powers (12:28 PM)
Swanny, I'd be surprised by a trade. Quenneville likes having eight, and it allows him to keep all three fresh. I'm more curious to see who he goes with during the playoffs. I would assume Rozsival again, and the other two become scratches.
Scott, when do you think Kaner will start getting some recognition as a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate? The conversation seems to be dominated by Ovi and Crosby, why no love Kane?
Scott Powers (12:29 PM)
Ryne, I think that is slowly growing. I saw ESPN's Scott Burnside bring up Kane's name in that conversation today. It is really early, though, too.
Jim (Logan Square)
Saad for the US Olympic squad! As a left wing he is right up there now with Parise in points and leads ALL US skaters in plus minus. Yay or nay?
Scott Powers (12:31 PM)
Jim, I definitely think Saad is building a case. He's been a lot more consistent this season, and he's been producing on different lines. I was impressed again by that pass to Versteeg last night. I think ultimately he's going to be on the fence. It could go yay or nay.
"I thought (Crawford) needed to prove himself over a full season to get that long-term contract."Then what do you call what he did last year? He was really good all year long, including the playoffs. I still don't like the contract, but to say he didn't prove it for a full year is amiss.
Scott Powers (12:34 PM)
John, I meant over an 82-game season. That's what I consider a full season. He and Emery were almost 50 percent in starts in the shortened season. I thought Crawford needed to show he can have those elite numbers again while starting 60-plus games. I think he put away doubts last season that he can lead a team to a Stanley Cup, but you also need a goaltender who can ride the highs and lows of the long regular-season schedule. He hasn't exactly done that in his career. His numbers haven't been great this season so far.
Ty (San Francisco)
Scott, what is there to complain about - nothing. We have built the preeminent hockey franchise ala redwings of a decade ago... I know I am getting ahead of myself but I never liked the contract we gave Craw! Is Craw tradeable in the offseason if we decide Raanta is goods?
Scott Powers (12:36 PM)
Ty, no Crawford is not going anywhere. He is the goalie for many years to come.
Why did Raanta only get a one year contract? Was that all he would agree to sign with Chicago? Seems a 3-4 year deal would have made more sense.
Scott Powers (12:39 PM)
John, I don't know the full details, but I would assume that was both sides being safe. It's probably what Raanta and his agent wanted more too. I'm sure the thought process was if he plays well he could attract a larger contract from the Blackhawks or somewhere else after the season. I could see the Blackhawks signing Raanta again in the offseason as a restricted free agent, but him going somewhere else in the future if he proves to be a No. 1 goalie and the Blackhawks can no longer afford him.
Eric (Evansville, IN)
What are the chances Tuevo is the 2nd line center next year since Pirri is in the doghouse and back in Rockford?
Scott Powers (12:41 PM)
Eric, I think Teravainen is the second-line center next season even if Pirri wasn't in the doghouse. I talked to Bowman the other day, and he said Pirri and Morin are in the Blackhawks' plans for the future. I'm just not sure where they exactly fit.
Anyway Teuvo Teravainen joins Rockford after the Season with Jokerit? If so will he be sent up late in the season to play for Chicago?
Scott Powers (12:42 PM)
Dan, I don't think he plays in Rockford at all. I think he's with the Blackhawks the entire time.
Can you give us an update on how Teuvo is doing? Are we talking about another potential superstar join the team late in the season?
Scott Powers (12:44 PM)
Jack, Teravainen has been fine this season in Finland. His numbers have been respectable. He definitely has the makings of a something special once he comes over. He's still young and needs to put on some weight and muscle, but a lot of the skills, especially stick-handling and creating, are already in place.
Scott,Think there's a chance that Pirri comes back?
Scott Powers (12:46 PM)
Steve, I'm pretty sure you'll see Pirri again this season. Injuries will happen. I really thought he was there to stay with the Blackhakws this last time and had turned the corner. Moving him to the third line really hurt his chances with Quenneville. There's less offensive opportunity there, and his defensive skills are more in the spotlight.
John (Lake St Louis)
Scott, is it just me or has Kaner had a hard time converting on his shootout attempts this year?
Scott Powers (12:48 PM)
John, you're right. He hasn't had success there this year. He's been pretty good on breakaways during games, so it's probably just fine-tuning it during the shootouts. Some of that is pure luck, too.
how is versteeg playing? how does he compare to versteeg in 2010? to versteeg with florida?
Scott Powers (12:50 PM)
Andrew, Versteeg has played well, especially as of late. He's been good with Kane on that second line and is contributing on both ends of the ice. He can be even more of an asset when Bickell return. A third line of Versteeg, Shaw and Bickell gives the Blackhawks even more depth.
john "donk" passehl (siu)
Ive heard the crawford trade rumors, but could you address the hossa trade rumors? I mean, I thought he signed for 12 years back in 08
Scott Powers (12:52 PM)
Crawford nor Hossa are going anywhere. They are both in Bowman's long-term plans.
Jordan (Boston )
Hey Scott,Love the way this team has played to this point and as of now I just don't see this team losing 4 of 7 come may/June. While its amazing to watch this team play now its hard not to look at what this team will look like next year. With the cap looking like its going to be set at $71.1 million next year do you think this is what the preliminary roster will look like? Sharp - Toews - Hossa / Saad - Teravainen - Kane / Bickell - Shaw - Versteeg / Bollig - Kruger - Smith / Keith - Seabrook / Hjalmarsson - Oduya / Leddy - Rosival / Crawford / Raanta. And remaining 3 some combo of Morin, Kostka FA?
Scott Powers (12:53 PM)
Jordan, yeah, that looks about right to me. Bollig is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and Smith, Pirri, Morin are restricted free agents.
Scott Powers (12:54 PM)
Thanks again for all the questions today. I hope to be back at the normal time next week. As always, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions during the week.