Hawks’ Brandon Bollig, Ben Smith are keepers; Alexander Salak’s a goner
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org June 18, 2012 8:32PM
Chicago Blackhawks winger Ben Smith (57) scores the game-winner, in game six of the first round April 24, 2011 at the United Center, past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo in overtime to tie the series at three game each. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: July 20, 2012 6:26AM
Forwards Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith and goalie Carter Hutton are in. Goalie Alexander Salak is out.
When forming his roster for the 2012-13 season, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said he would look internally first and go from there. In other words, Bowman remains confident in Smith and Bollig after the team announced Monday they were re-signed to two-year deals. The Hawks also signed Hutton to a one-year, two-way contract.
The same can’t be said about Salak, though. He was released after being put on waivers and going unclaimed.
“We saw a number of our young players demonstrate the potential for good things for next year, and some of them were big contributors this year,” Bowman said after the season.
Bollig, 25, joined the Hawks last season after enforcer John Scott was traded to the New York Rangers. Brought in for the same responsibilities, Bollig quickly earned coach Joel Quenneville’s praise for more than fighting. He played in 18 regular-season games and saw time in the playoffs, which included dressing over veteran Jamal Mayers.
Smith, 23, didn’t come close to making the impact many projected he’d have after starring in the 2011 postseason. But he remains a Quenneville and Bowman favorite.
Smith underwent surgery on March 15 for a right-hip labral tear and a hernia with a full recovery in 16 weeks. He had 15 goals and 31 points in 38 games for the Rockford IceHogs last season.
The emergence of Hutton, 26, was a surprise and meant the end for Salak. Hutton had a 22-13-4 record with three shutouts, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 43 regular-season games for Rockford.
Bowman always said he was high on Salak, 25, after he was acquired in the Michael Frolik deal with the Florida Panthers in February 2011. Bowman even said before last season that he was comfortable if Corey Crawford and Salak were his two goalies. But Ray Emery was invited to training camp and took the backup spot.
Salak, who initially signed a two-year deal, had a 6-10-2 record and a 2.69 goals-against average in 21 games with Rockford.
Goalie prospects Mac Carruth and Kent Simpson were recently signed to their three-year, entry-level deals, making Salak even more expendable.
“The surprise of the whole group down there was Hutton in goal,” Bowman said. “He really gave them a strong foundation night in and night out the second half of the season. They made a strong push, and Carter was a big part of that, so we’re excited about his potential. I think you need to have at least four strong goaltenders in your organization based upon injuries, and it’s nice to know Carter stepped up.”