Blackhawks

Are Canadiens eyeing possible trade with Blackhawks?

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USA Today

Are Canadiens eyeing possible trade with Blackhawks?

The NHL trade deadline isn’t for another two-plus months, but this is an important time of year because all 31 teams have a pretty good idea of what its roster is as the standings take shape going into the 2020 calendar year. 

Management groups across the league are starting to gather more information and dig deeper on players they could be interested in ahead of the Feb. 24 deadline, whether it’s a buyer or a seller.

One frequent observer in Chicago has been the Montreal Canadiens, who have heavily scouted both the Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has been spotted multiple times at the United Center this season, including Sunday, and has made several trips to Rockford as well.

It’s believed the Canadiens are searching for a left-handed shot defenseman and that’s a position the Blackhawks have a surplus of. Erik Gustafsson, most notably, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and there haven’t been any talks about a possible extension to this point, according to a source.

With Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol), Duncan Keith (groin) and Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol) sidelined, the Blackhawks have had the opportunity to evaluate some of their prospects at the NHL level recently.

Dennis Gilbert and Anton Wedin have gotten several looks already, and same with Adam Boqvist and Matthew Highmore, both of whom were recalled on Monday ahead of the Blackhawks' three-game road trip. Dylan Sikura was called up over the weekend and made his season debut on Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes.

It’s too early to speculate what the Blackhawks’ trade-deadline plans may be because it will likely be determined by where they sit in the standings come February, but it’s worth monitoring going forward, as we discussed on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. The Blackhawks and Canadiens are each five points out of a playoff spot in their respective conferences.

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What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

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AP

What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

It was never a matter of if and only a matter of when Patrick Kane would reach 1,000 career NHL points. He tried his best not to let it creep into his mind as he got closer to the number, but it was difficult not to.

Kane entered Sunday's game sitting at 999 points after picking up one the night before on Hockey Night in Canada to extend his point streak to nine games. He needed only one more to make history and did so, fittingly, in front of a sold-out United Center crowd of 21,487.

Kane recorded the secondary assist on Brandon Saad's goal in the third period to make it 4-1 and the entire team left the bench to mob Kane thanks to captain Jonathan Toews, who orchestrated the ordeal and cleared it with league officials. 

"What a moment, obviously, with everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that moment with me," Kane said following a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. "You see some faces in that pile that have been a big part of a lot of those points, whether it’s been [Toews] or [Duncan Keith] or [Alex] DeBrincat recently, [Saad] to finish it off I think was pretty cool. ... As far as everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that with me is something I’ll never forget."

Kane became the youngest American-born player to hit the 1,000-point mark and fourth player in Blackhawks history to accomplish that feat, joining Denis Savard (1,096), Bobby Hull (1,153) and Stan Mikita (1,497). Only 89 other players in NHL history are part of the 1,000-point club; Kane makes it 90.

[RELATED: Kane first star interview]

"He's one of those elite players," Brandon Saad said. "He's one of those few who can achieve goals like that. All you can say is good things about him. He's a special player. He keeps getting better with age. He's fun to play with."

It was a memorable night in Chicago, but there was something missing. Kane’s parents couldn't attend due to inclement weather in their hometown of Buffalo. His dad, Pat Kane Sr., made it to all 41 home games last season.

“It’s tough not having them here,” Kane said. “They’ve been a big part of my career. I’m sure I’ll talk to them after this and hopefully there will be some better moments in the future that they’ll be here for.”

Kane’s list of accolades in his NHL career is only getting longer and will continue to get longer. Three Stanley Cups. Conn Smythe Trophy recipient. Art Ross Trophy winner. League MVP. Now a member of the 1,000-point club.

"It’s special," Kane said. "I’ve been very fortunate in my career, whether it’s been getting drafted by Chicago or making some decisions when I was younger to move away at 14 years old, a freshman in high school, forgo college and play in London for a year.

"Obviously, Chicago winning the lottery, getting drafted by Chicago, then having a lot of good pieces in place here with some great players where we could turn the corner pretty fast and become a good team. There were a lot of things that were lined up. When you reach a milestone like this you think of all those players you played with that had a big part of it. It’s been a fun ride."

Even though he’s accomplished just about everything in his hockey life, Kane is still hungry for more.

[RELATED: Kane's road to 1,000 career points]

So what’s next?

"1,001," Kane laughed. "Start there and then move forward."

But really, there's only one goal.

"Maybe a few more Cups," Kane said to Chicago crowd after being named No. 1 star of the game. "That would be nice, right?"

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Blackhawks "finally starting to full buy-in to the system"

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AP

Blackhawks "finally starting to full buy-in to the system"

The Blackhawks just didn't fall into a five-game winning streak that saw Patrick Kane surpass the elite 1,000-point milestone. 

The streak and the fun, meaningful hockey we've been watching the Hawks play lately took everyone on the bench and in the room getting on board.

"We're finally starting to full buy-in to the system," said Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner, who saved 36 of 38 shots to help defeat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Sunday night. "Full effort level, doing the right things at the right times. 15 games ago, we started playing good with leads, playing different, not backing up, just keep going at it. 

"We did the same thing (Sunday) in the third. Not just backing up that whole period, we went after them. 

"Everyone's just doing their job, and we're starting to feel (that) doing those things gets you rewarded, and everyone just keeps doing it. We're doing well but we've just got to keep doing it because every point is crucial.

"It's a learning curve. You don't just step into this league and everything's going to click for you. It's very seldom very few players do that. All of our young guys are starting to play really well. Every line, our D pair, everyone's just clicking and we're doing the right things. We've just got to keep that up, we can't deviate from it and just keep trying to stay consistent."

For now, the Hawks have been effectively utilizing head coach Jeremy Colliton's system and playing well enough as a unit to not only win five straight, but tie the Jets in the Western Conference to sit just three points out of a Wild Card spot. 

A sign of the good times was the Blackhawks swarming Patrick Kane to celebrate his 1,000th NHL point milestone in the third period of Sunday's game. Players jumped over the bench to congratulate Kane for the greatest sight the United Center has seen since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on home ice in 2015.

"Our habits are better and we’re protecting each other with how we play," Colliton said. "That’s a big thing. And with that, you gain confidence. You gain confidence that the guy beside you is going to do the right thing, there’s a little bit of peer pressure as well to do it for him. 

"We’re improving, too. we have a bunch of guys who are getting better. They’re developing, becoming more and more comfortable in the NHL or maybe it’s an increased role in the NHL and with our team. hopefully that will continue."

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