Blackhawks Update

With NHL draft now behind us, we can really start to speculate as to what types of moves the Blackhawks will be making this summer. Whether they make trades, sign free agents, or do both (most likely), one thing is for sure. The Hawks will begin next season with some new names on their roster.

About a month or so ago, there were rumors going around that the Hawks would be looking to trade away Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The reasoning for these proposed moves was that the Blackhawks felt Kruger could take Bolland’s spot as a shut-down center, and trading away both of those salaries would free up a lot of cap space to sign top free agents. As of right now, I am not hearing any rumors involving a Dave Bolland trade. Whether or not it stays that way, only time will tell. As for the possibility of Niklas Hjalmarsson departing via a trade, that remains very true.

Just about everywhere I have looked regarding a trade involving Hjalmarsson has indicated that the Blackhawks are aggressively looking to trade him for most likely a center who can win face-offs. As we all know, the Blackhawks were not very good at winning their draws last year, with the exception of Jonathan Toews. One rumor I saw stated that the Hawks were talking with the Ottawa Senators about a trade that would send Hjalmarsson to Ottawa in exchange for Zack Smith. Smith is a 24 year old center who has won over 50% of his face-offs throughout his career. This trade makes sense for both teams in that Ottawa needs a defensive-defenseman like Hjalmarsson, and the Hawks need a center who can consistently win face-offs. I heard about this trade about a week or so ago, but I have not heard anything more about it. The only thing that do know for sure is that Hjalmarsson is very much so still on the trade block.

After the Hawks resigned Johnny Oduya for $3.5 million, it sure looked like they wouldn’t be in on trying to sign Ryan Suter this summer. However, that was before all of the Niklas Hjalmarsson rumors began to appear. If the Hawks do end up trading Hjalmarsson before July 1 (the day free agency opens), they will for sure be in on the “Suter Sweepstakes.” If they do not trade him before July 1, then don’t expect them to trade him at all. The only reason they would trade “Hammer” would be to free up a roster spot and cap space for Ryan Suter. Otherwise, it would make no sense to trade away their best shot-blocker. If the Blackhawks do find the right deal that would send Hjalmarsson elsewhere to allow themselves to bid on Suter, I would be all for it. Ryan Suter is exactly what the Blackhawks need. He is a superior defensive-defenseman, as well as a superior offensive-defenseman. It’s no secret that the Hawks want a lot more production out of their powerplay next season, and Ryan Suter would greatly help in that area. But again, unless Hjalmarsson gets traded between now and Sunday, don’t expect him to get traded at all, or for the Hawks to go after Suter.

As for Patrick Kane…..I don’t think he’ll be traded. The only elite winger that is being shopped by their current team is Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets. While I do see some upsides to trading Kane for Nash, I don’t think it will happen. The biggest reason is the fact that the Blue Jackets’ asking price for Nash seems to be too high for just about every team in the NHL. They want more than just a Patrick Kane-type player in return, and that “more” is something that the Hawks and most other teams are unwilling to give up. So if you want my opinion, don’t read too much into those rumors.

Neither Zach Parise nor Roberto Luongo will be playing for the Hawks next year, so forget about that.

Other than that, I don’t have much else to say. The one guy that I really felt would fit the Hawks perfectly was Jarret Stoll. He is a center for the Kings who wins the majority of his draws and is not afraid to throw his body around, not to mention his offensive skills. He played a huge roll for the Kings these playoffs. He could have chosen to enter free agency this summer, but instead he re-signed with L.A. for less money than he could have gotten somewhere else.

Keep your eyes and ears open here in the next week. If they Hawks are going to do anything significant, it will happen between now and Sunday.

Thanks for reading.

Target Field Review

This is the second newest park in baseball, so I had some high expectations for Target Field. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed. Let’s start with the exterior of the stadium. Almost every new park that has been built in the last 12 years or so has used either brick or stone for it’s exterior, which I am a fan of. Target Field is no different. They used light and dark tan-colored stone tiles all around the outside of the stadium. Beyond the right field stands, there is a pretty cool area for fans to kind of hang out before or after each game. In this area, there are different food stands set up, as well as statues of former Twins players, such as Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett. Also, there are big baseball bat-like structures placed all in a straight line. At the base of each bat, the Twins have planted ivy with the hopes that in a number of years, all of the bats will be covered in the green ivy. I thought this was pretty cool. Once inside the park, one of the first things I noticed was how wide the concourse was. I would have to say that it might have been the widest, most open-air concourse that I have seen at a baseball stadium. Also, the playing field is completely visible from the concourse, which goes around the entire first level of the park. In theory, you could walk around the concourse the entire game and not miss a pitch. I was very impressed with this. The food at Target field was nothing special, but it wasn’t  bad either. One item that they do sell that I have never seen at a baseball stadium before is Root Beer. And believe it or not, the Twins have their own brand of Root Beer called “Killebrew Root Beer.” My favorite drink is Root Beer, so this really helped score some points with me. After getting a hot dog and Root Beer, I made my way down to my seat and settled in for the game. One of the first things I noticed when I got to my seat was how “compact” the stadium was, for lack of a better term. If you take Busch Stadium, for example, that park is huge. When sitting in your seat there, you feel like you are sitting in an absolutely huge stadium. Target Field on the other hand, does not have that feel at all. The park is much smaller and compact. All of the seats are much closer to the field than they are at some other stadiums, like Busch Stadium. Behind the left field stands, there is one, big jumbo tron/scoreboard that provides player statistics and game statistics throughout the entire game. Above the right field stands, there is another scoreboard/screen, but this one is a bit smaller in size. Here, you are provided with more player statistics, as well as replays and videos (both scoreboards show videos). Something unique about the seating at Target Field is the shape of the right field stands. Starting from the center field-side of these seats, they slant downward as you move closer to the right field line. It is a pretty odd looking shape. As for the field itself, it has some of its own unique characteristics. The outfield wall varies in distance from home plate, from foul line to foul line. In left, the wall is 339 feet from home plate, left-center is 377 feet, center field is 404 feet, right-center is 367 feet, and right field is 328 feet. As I’m sure you noticed, right field has much shorter distances than left field. This is because the outfield wall is much higher in right field than it is in left field, which makes it harder to hit home runs. Also in right field, part of the seating hangs out over the warning track, which can create some difficult bounces for the right fielder, as well as make it a bit easier to hit home runs. Speaking of home runs, after each home run that the Twins hit, fireworks are shot into the air above the left field scoreboard. Compared to other stadiums that I have seen do this, however, Target Field’s fireworks are pretty weak. As far as the overall attractiveness of Target Field, I liked it a lot. If you are sitting along the third base/left field line, you get a decent view of the Minneapolis skyline above the right field stands. Also, all of the seats are a forest green color, which looks really good in baseball stadiums. This park has a very modern feel to it. There is a lot of glass inside the park, which gives it that modern feel. From the 3 levels of skyboxes to the restaurant down the right field line (I believe it is a restaurant…), there seems to be more glass inside the park than most other stadiums. Another interesting thing about this stadium is that it does not have light towers on its roof. Most parks have big, towering lights that extend above its roof. At Target field, the lights are built into the face of the roof. I haven’t seen this at any other park. Once the game is over and you leave the stadium, make sure to head down 1st avenue. There are tons of bars and restaurants located there with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a pretty cool setup. Taking everything into consideration, I would give Target Field a B+/A- compared to the other parks I have been to. If you live in the Midwest and want to take a road trip to see some baseball, I would recommend Target Field.

To see my MLB stadium rankings, click here.