Blackhawks

Blackhawks release lists of protected and unprotected players ahead of NHL's expansion draft

Blackhawks release lists of protected and unprotected players ahead of NHL's expansion draft

The list of Blackhawks protected from the expansion draft was revealed Sunday morning, and it comes as no surprise that there weren’t really any surprises on it.

The Blackhawks went the 7-3-1 route with their protected players:

Jonathan Toews
Patrick Kane
Marian Hossa
Artem Anisimov
Richard Panik
Ryan Hartman
Tomas Jurco
Brent Seabrook
Duncan Keith
Niklas Hjalmarsson
Corey Crawford

When it came to protected players, much of the Blackhawks’ situation was easy to figure out due to their contract situations. Any player with a current/continuing no-movement clause was exempt, and eight of the Blackhawks’ 11 protected players have one (Toews, Kane, Hossa, Anisimov, Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson and Crawford).

Hartman is coming off a great rookie season during which he recorded 19 goals and 12 assists, and considering that work the Blackhawks were going to do what was necessary to protect him. They also wanted to protect Panik, whose new two-year deal ($2.8 million cap hit per season) kicks in this fall. Panik set career highs in goals (22), assists (22) and points (44) last season.

As for Jurco, when the Blackhawks acquired him in February, general manager Stan Bowman said, “We’ll be patient with him, but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play.” Jurco was in and out of the lineup as the regular season ended and did not play in the Blackhawks’ four playoff games.

Artemi Panarin, by the way, was exempt from expansion draft exposure. The same goes for Nick Schmaltz.

Those Blackhawks exposed to the expansion draft include forwards Marcus Kruger, Jordin Tootoo, defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Michal Rozsival and goaltender Jeff Glass.

Frank Seravalli of TSN reported weeks ago that it’s possible the Vegas Golden Knights end up with both Kruger and van Riemsdyk.

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

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USA TODAY

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

The goals came in bunches for the Blackhawks in their Oct. 5 season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the Blackhawks, it was a nice memory, albeit one that seems far away given they went from scoring at will through their first two games to not being able to buy a goal for a sizeable stretch.

As for the Penguins, well, you figure their memoires of that game means they’ll be more than a little ticked off when the Blackhawks arrive on Saturday night.

“We’ve been on the wrong side of a few losses like that,” Patrick Sharp said. “You certainly remember them more than other losses.”

This is kind of/sort of about the Penguins, who in the first meeting were clearly tired not only from two Stanley Cup runs but also from their season opener/banner raising the prior night. But it’s more about the Blackhawks who, after a lengthy scoring drought, are starting to get their offense going again (15 goals in their last three games).

And while they’d like to shore up their defense – they blew a 4-1 lead vs. New Jersey and just about did it again vs. the New York Rangers – overall they’re trending in the right direction. And just as they face the team against whom they played their best game of the season.

“I’m sure [the Penguins] will be excited about playing us and making things better. They’re playing well, winning some games. For [us], we’re looking for more consistency in our game with the puck and we’re generating some offense,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still think it has some ways to improve. That was one night, whether it was the quality of the plays we made or [what], we seemed like we had the puck a lot and did some good things with it. We haven’t seen much of that lately so I think that maybe we can recapture a little bit of that with the puck as well.”

In the past three games the Blackhawks haven’t just reignited their offense, they’ve regained their confidence. Their lines are finding some chemistry. As frustrating as their scoring drought was, they’re hoping it’s behind them.

“At some point in the season I feel like every team goes through it, either in the beginning, the middle or toward the end. You just don’t want to have it right at the end of the season,” Ryan Hartman said. “You can look at it in in a positive way. Hopefully we got that part over with and now we’re just coming in confident and hopefully we put the puck in the net.”

The Blackhawks got off to a hot goal-scoring start against the Penguins by doing the right things: shooting, pouncing on rebounds, getting traffic in front of the net and capitalizing. As they head into their 20th game of the season, the Blackhawks are finally getting back to what worked so well in Game 1.

“Things dried up for a bit but I think we have a good rotation going here with the lines; the chemistry’s starting to fill in a little bit. Some guys are stepping up. [Artem] Anisimov had a big night and Brinsky’s [Alex DeBrincat] playing great. It’s good to see those guys step up. It makes you want to be that next guy who’s called up to step up in the next game,” Patrick Kane said. “It’s good to see some goals go into the net. More important, it’s good to see some wins. But we’re playing the right way and hopefully this will trend in the right direction for us.”