Blackhawks: Bickell, Versteeg tuning out trade rumors


Blackhawks: Bickell, Versteeg tuning out trade rumors

Forgive Bryan Bickell if he hasn’t been listening intently to all the rumors of where he could or could not be playing next season.

“I have a 10-month-old baby girl, so she keeps me busy. I’m building a house,” Bickell said on Friday. “With a short summer, I’m just looking to get back in shape and get focused for next season. It’s going to be another exciting season. We made moves to help out this team in the cap era, so we’re excited.”

That’s if Bickell remains with the Blackhawks, which may or may not happen. But for Bickell and Kris Versteeg, whose names have been the subject of trade rumors for several weeks, life is keeping them plenty occupied.

[MORE HAWKS: Nick Mattson prepping for jump to Rockford]

Bickell, right now, sees himself remaining with the Blackhawks.

“I feel like I’m staying. I don’t feel like I’m leaving. I feel comfortable and I’m sure they feel comfortable with what I bring to this team and what I need,” he said. “I don’t want to say I’m replaceable but hopefully I can stay. I’m looking to come here for training camp as a Blackhawk, and hopefully I can stay that way.”

Versteeg has also been spending quality time with family; his son was born just as the Stanley Cup Final began. Versteeg’s also been here before. He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 2010 Stanley Cup victory. That summer, he let the trade possibilities consume him; this summer, not so much.

“When you’re younger, you stress maybe about it more. Now you understand it’s a business,” Versteeg said. “It’s pretty crazy. Pretty much anyone in this league can be traded at any given time. Some guys have been traded multiple times. I have. Whatever team I’m with I’ll always bring my best. Hopefully it’ll be with the Blackhawks next year but right now, my main focus is on the summertime.”

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Oh, and Bickell’s health looks like it’s finally improving. The forward suffered from vertigo at the end of the Western Conference Final and felt the effects of it the past few weeks. But he recently had a tooth pulled and has been feeling better since.

“I feel normal now,” he said. “I’ve been working out the last week and getting ready and I feel good, so hopefully that’s it: pull a tooth and your vertigo’s gone. That’s all it takes.”

Health status is one thing. Status with a team is another. Bickell and Versteeg aren’t sure where they’ll be come September. They hope it will be here. They’ve already seen several teammates go, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad to trades and Johnny Oduya to free agency. Whether they’re next is uncertain but they’re too busy to listen to what may or may not happen.

“It’s out of my control. It is what it is,” Bickell said. “You meet a lot of good people good friends that come and go. We’ve seen [Patrick] Sharp and [Brandon] Saad go like they did, now Johnny Oduya. It’s part of the business. We’ve built some good stories together, good history on winning teams. Hopefully I’m here to stay.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?