Blackhawks

Blackhawks still have work to do following NHL Draft

Blackhawks still have work to do following NHL Draft

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman had just wrapped up the team’s selections at the NHL Draft on Saturday when he started talking about what was next on the agenda.

“It’s a very busy time. Really, up until the end of July it’s real busy,” Bowman said. “Our roster will start to take shape. There aren’t a ton of holes but there are some things we’re going to look to try and make headway on over the next 10 days to two weeks.”

The Blackhawks spent Saturday selecting nine players at the NHL draft. Bowman has long talked drafting and developing and the Blackhawks have to get back to that. In trying to win as much as they can now they’ve sacrificed a lot of youth, be it those who already proved themselves at this level or those who were on the cusp of doing so.

But this is where the Blackhawks are right now, so they’ll look at what they can do now.

The Blackhawks already re-signed Richard Panik and Dennis Rasmussen, and Bowman said they’ll probably ink a few more of their unrestricted free agents soon. Bowman had talks regarding some players on Saturday.

“It’s probably early to make a prediction on where we’re going to go but we have a pretty good idea of where things will end up. Probably won’t be too long, you guys will be figuring out who we’re signing,” Bowman said with a grin.

So what else? Oh, the defense. The Blackhawks’ defense isn’t a mess but the depth isn’t what it was two seasons ago. Trevor van Riemsdyk and Erik Gustafsson will be a year older and should benefit from their play from last season. Ville Pokka and Gustav Forsling are young guys in the system. The Blackhawks also signed Michal Kempny this offseason, and he could have a good shot of making the roster.

“I think [Kempny], we’re looking forward to seeing how he does.. I think he can come in and hopefully he can help us right off the bat,” coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday. “We’ll see on the free agents and how that market looks out. We know that looking at the top end and certainly we’ll definitely do whatever we can to get some depth and some quality if we can.”

The Blackhawks have young defenseman but Bowman said they could acquire a seasoned one.

“We do have a lot of young guys who are in the mix for that. I wouldn’t rule out a veteran defenseman. But we don’t have anything to announce right now,” Bowman said. “We’ll have discussions as we go along here.”

The draft is done but the Blackhawks still have work to do. They’ve parted with another would-be core player in Andrew Shaw, but the roster subtraction should be done – Bowman said following Shaw’s trade that the team no longer has a salary-cap problem. But they have a bit of a depth problem, and they’ll need to do things over the next few weeks to make it less of an issue come September.

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

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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?