Blackhawks mailbag: Trade-deadline questions abound


Blackhawks mailbag: Trade-deadline questions abound

We’ve hit the All-Star break, where Patrick Kane will ultimately be the Blackhawks’ lone representative this weekend in Nashville. Jonathan Toews, who’s been ill for several days, will not be attending. Because of that, he’s also suspended for Tuesday’s game in Colorado.

C’est la vie.

But in our latest mailbag the All-Star Game and all its glitz isn’t what’s on your mind. Nope, it’s the trade deadline, which hits at 2 p.m. CT on Feb. 29. Several of you asked if the Blackhawks acquire someone around that time. The Blackhawks have decent cap space right now ($2.49 million, via, so a move could be made.

Stan Bowman, talking about the deadline on Tuesday in Carolina and said it’s probably too early to say what the Blackhawks may do. They’re still working in some younger guys, and if things are going well over this last month, the Blackhawks won’t be devastated if they don’t make a move.

Also, a lot of teams are still vying for postseason spots, and who gets close to that and who falls further out of the race will determine potential trade partners.

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“There [are] still a large number of teams who aren’t at that point yet. You don’t know exactly what the pool of players who are going to be available, so we have some ideas on players that might become available, and we’re going to do our work over the coming weeks and follow them and have an idea of who we want to approach,” Bowman said. “And then it just becomes is there a match and does it work, do you have what they are looking for. So I can’t characterize it yet.”

And there’s one more trade-related question involving current roster players.

That I wouldn’t advise. Yes, the Blackhawks have dealt prospective defensemen in the past but those guys aren’t doing much elsewhere. You can still get an experienced guy for a pick or prospect — the Blackhawks got Johnny Oduya for a second- and third-round pick at the 2012 deadline. Not every guy in your defensive group is going to have years of experience. You need to keep some youth for the present and future.

Now, onto the rest of the mailbag:

This is probably a stay-cation more than a vacation, but nevertheless I don’t see much happening these next few days. Besides, moves never happen unless I’m at yoga — please see the news of Toews missing the All-Star weekend — or in the case of Toews and Kane’s signing a few summers ago, on an airplane.

Morning skates are pretty dull. It’s really just a chance for players to get their legs going in the morning and to roll the forward lines. A few teams did away with them this season and I wondered a few months ago if the Blackhawks would do the same. But since they never practice — and why would you with this schedule — the Blackhawks will continue having skates.

There’s a lot of time to figure this one out. As Bowman reminded us on Tuesday, Marcus Kruger is on schedule after December’s wrist surgery but that schedule still doesn’t have him returning until around the start of the playoffs. So Dennis Rasmussen and Phillip Danault are good for a while.

Yes, Andrew Shaw will be a restricted free agent this summer. Bowman, when asked about keeping Shaw, said, “we want to keep all our guys.” The GM is happy to see the year Shaw is having on that top line, too. A lot is going to depend on how much the salary cap rises, and the way the Canadian dollar is going, it probably won’t be much.

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It’s possible he gets lost in the cap crunch. Or perhaps the Blackhawks offer him something like they did Kruger this offseason: a little bit of a raise now, knowing a bigger deal could come later). I don’t foresee a Brandon Saad-type trade. No offense to the scrappy Shaw but they’re two different players commanding two different prices and, if that scenario plays out, trade packages.

I think Scott Darling is secure. Darling’s having a decent season (5-4-2 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .911 save percentage), winning three of his last four outings. The Blackhawks aren’t going to be trading for a backup goaltender. The schedule lightens following the break, so Corey Crawford’s going to be getting the bulk of the outings. Darling came in to save the day in the 2015 first round vs. Nashville but Crawford is obviously going to be the guy in the playoffs.

There’s no personal giddiness — again, fan of the game, not of the team — in seeing which players emerge from the minors. But there is curiosity on who will rise through the ranks. At some point, and by that I mean when he’s ready and when the Blackhawks have a legitimate spot for him to play ample minutes in, I’d like to see what Marko Dano can do. Again, I don’t think he’s ready yet and, more important, the Blackhawks don’t either. I’d also like to see Ville Pokka at some point.

I told you I’d answer this, Alex! Unfortunately I have never had the supposed goodness of Pizza 73. Considering how many times I’ve been in Western Canada, I don’t know how I haven’t had it. But you’ve talked me into it. I’ll report back following my next trip to Calgary.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: