Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dowell Expected To Be An NHL Regular This Season

With the proximity of Chicago to southern Wisconsin, numerous Badger fans double as Blackhawks fans as well. While the salary cap crunch has forced many players off last seasons Stanley Cup championship roster, it should provide some opportunities for younger players.

One of those players expecting to benefit from Chicago's cap issues is none other than Eau Claire native and former Badger Jake Dowell. According to Hawks GM Stan Bowman, Dowell is expected to be a player to help replace some of the grit lost by losing Adam Burish, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Ben Eager.

"I expect a guy like Jake Dowell to have a really good chance to be on our team next year," Bowman said. "He brings a lot of that tenacity and aggressiveness to his game."

Currently the Blackhawks have 8 forwards under contract for next season on one way contracts. With how close Chicago is to the salary cap, and Dowell's cap friendly $525,000 salary, you should expect Jake to settle into the fourth line center role right out of training camp in the fall.

Another Wisconsin native and former Badger is in an interesting spot. Verona native Jack Skille is a restricted free agent this summer. Bowman is expected to clear some cap space by figuring something out with backup goaltender Christobal Huet. According to Tim Sassone that should leave the Hawks with about 9.18M to resign restricted free agents Niklas Hjalmarsson, Antti Niemi, Bryan Bickell, and Jack Skille.

Being a RFA, Skille can be offered a contract by other teams around the league with Chicago having an opportunity to match the offer. It should be interesting to see if someone takes a shot on offering Skille a contract knowing that Chicago doesn't have much room to operate financially. San Jose is exploiting this by offering a contract to Niklas Hjalmarsson. Either way, if Skille is with the Blackhawks or not, he is expected to be an NHL regular next season.