The Chicago Sun Times Mark Lazerus reports on the prospects in the Blackhawks pipeline. For every Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad who made an impact on the Hawks at a young age, there are other players who didn’t quite make it as quickly. He writes that Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman are two of many prospects looking to stake their presence in Chicago, but also notes that they have been invited to their fair share of prospect camps already. Schmaltz finally turned pro, indicating that he sees his best opportunity to make the team. Meanwhile, Vinnie Hinostroza, Tyler Motte, and Dylan Sikura also look to fill the remaining voids on the Hawks roster. Lazerus reports that while coach Joel Quenneville, and general manager Stan Bowman may feel frustration with affording the kids the roster spots, it’s best if they make their mistakes with a strong core still intact. Without cap room, and only what Lazerus calls “two and a half lines,” the kids appear to be the Hawks’ best answer.
- Tim Campbell writes that Blake Wheeler and the Jets are looking to take a giant step forward in the 2016-17 season. Wheeler talks about how the late season surge for the Jets, where they went 6-2-2 on the West Coast, it showed the resolve of a franchise that didn’t tank for a higher draft pick. Adding to the optimism is a number of exciting young players, which includes recent draft pick, and second overall pick Patrik Laine. Campbell also reports that the Jets have yet to make a decision on their next captain. He writes that Wheeler isn’t concerned about what letter is sewn on his jersey. Instead, he’s more focused on helping those young players take the next step at the NHL level.
- Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper spoke with Eric Staal on his decision to choose the Wild over other suitors in free agency. Staal feels that the Wild offer him a great opportunity to improve on a down season for him in 2015-16. He also talked about how he feels better centering a line and that the talent on the wing in Minnesota will be beneficial for both him and the team. Cooper writes that while advanced stats reveal Staal’s worth, his goals and assists have left much to be desired. Staal believes it begins with confidence, and that he feels that he still have a productive NHL career ahead of him. Staal signed a three-year, $10.5MM deal with the Wild.