Blackhawks

Blackhawks trade Ryan Hartman to Predators in first deadline deal

Blackhawks trade Ryan Hartman to Predators in first deadline deal

It's no secret that the Blackhawks were going to be sellers ahead of Monday's trade deadline, but maybe not to the degree Chicago anticipated.

The Blackhawks made their first deadline deal of the day, trading Ryan Hartman and a fifth-round pick in 2018 to the Nashville Predators in exchange for forward prospect Victor Ejdsell, a first-round pick in 2018 and fourth-rounder in 2018.

"It’s a good opportunity for him, going to a team with a chance to win and going as far as they did last year, I’m sure they’re excited about getting a guy like Hartsy," Joel Quenneville said. "He gives you some competitiveness, and certainly from our point of view, you wish him well and you thank him for what he did for us.

"It’s part of our business. I think it would’ve been tough for him leaving Chicago, but at the same time, he’s got to be excited about the chance where he’s going."

Hartman has 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 57 games this season, and is coming off a campaign in which he scored 19 goals and totaled 31 points in his first full-time season in the NHL. He is a pending restricted free agent, and could command up to $2 million per year.

Ejdsell was reportedly on the Blackhawks' radar last summer but he ended up signing a two-year entry-level deal with the Predators. He's a 23-year-old, big-bodied forward at 6-foot-5, 214 pounds, that is a natural center but can also play wing.

He led the Swedish Allvenskan in points (57) during the 2016-17 season in 50 games with Bofors IK, and was named the league's MVP. He also had four goals and three assists in 10 playoff games.

Ejdsell continued his development in the Swedish Hockey League, where he has 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists) in 44 games with HV71 this season. 

The Blackhawks also traded Tommy Wingels to the Boston Bruins for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2019. It becomes a fourth-rounder if the Bruins advance past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs or if Wingels re-signs.

The Blackhawks have eight draft picks in 2018: two first-rounders, two third-rounders and each in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.

Monday night, Hartman tweeted his reaction to the trade:

Four takeaways: Blackhawks keep playoff hopes alive with overtime win over Avalanche

Four takeaways: Blackhawks keep playoff hopes alive with overtime win over Avalanche

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Duncan Keith saves the day

The Blackhawks needed this. After losing three in a row, anything less than a win on Sunday would've been the nail in the coffin on the team's playoff hopes with seven games remaining.

But Keith's overtime heroics saved the day for the Blackhawks, who live to fight another day. It was the third goal in nine games for Keith, who has six goals on the season. He had two goals in 82 games last season. Surely this offensive hot streak — by defensemen standards — feels good.

"I don't score too many overtime goals," Keith said. "[Nathan] MacKinnon was coming down and I'm just trying not to get embarrassed there because he's a pretty good player. And he kind of fell and I had the jump on him, and I was thinking he might try to poke it on my backhand. But I saw that he wasn't going to have enough room, so I just tried to slam it at the net as hard as I could. It hit the net and luckily it went in."

2. Blackhawks keep playoff hopes alive (barely)

Saturday's regulation loss to the Avalanche was a gut punch. Allowing the Avalanche to pick up a point in this one wasn't ideal. But the Blackhawks need to take care of their own business first, and earning two points was the ultimate goal.

The projected playoff cut is roughly 87 points. The Blackhawks have 76 with seven games left. They need 11 out of a possible 14 points in their final seven games to hit that mark. Their odds are bleak. But they're hanging on by a thread.

"This is huge," Keith said. "I think it was pretty much a must-win game. Especially after losing the last one against these guys. I thought we played a really good game tonight as a team. Obviously nothing's perfect but finding a way to get those two points. We're taking it one game at a time. We'll enjoy it, move on and know we still got our work cut out for us. Our theme of taking it one game at a time is a good way to approach it."

3. Loading up 12-19-88

Entering Sunday's game, the Blackhawks had scored only seven goals in their past four games. It's been their toughest stretch of the second half in the goal scoring department after it came so easy to them for months. The lack of power play is one of the main reasons for that.

To help change things up, Jeremy Colliton loaded up the top line with Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and tried to exploit some matchups by having the last change at home. And why not? They've accounted for 45.5 percent of the team's goals this season, and that strategy worked so well for Colorado earlier in the year. They didn't score, but they were very effective together.

In 16:19 of even-strength time, the trio controlled 65.9 percent of the shot attempts, 80 percent of the scoring chances and 80 percent of the high-danger chances, according to naturalstattrick.com.

"Those are the three guys that put the puck in the net the most," Colliton said. "We've been having trouble, so I think throw them together and that's probably the best opportunity to create some offense. I realize they didn't score, but they were really good."

4. Staying optimistic

The Blackhawks know it's an uphill battle to make the playoffs. But until the math says they're officially out of contention, they're going to continue fighting and clawing for that final wildcard spot.

There's still some optimism inside the locker room that they can make a run because they've shown in the past that they can do it. A big game against Arizona on Tuesday is a chance to strengthen it.

 

"We have a big belief in our group," Artem Anisimov said. "We just need to get it done."

Said Keith: "We know it's tough. We look at the standings and stuff, but at the same time I think our focus has to be in the moment. The standings are what they are, our focus needs to be one game at a time and just control that. So good game tonight and good that we got the two points, but we need to go into Arizona and play just as good as a game, if not better, to beat those guys."

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks lose ground in wildcard race with regulation loss to Avalanche

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AP

Four takeaways: Blackhawks lose ground in wildcard race with regulation loss to Avalanche

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Saturday:

1. Losing ground

It's been well-documented much this weekend means for the Blackhawks. It could basically make or break their playoff chances with exactly two weeks left. They even got a break when they found out during warmups that Colorado's second-leading point getter Mikko Rantanen would miss the game due to an undisclosed injury, joining captain Gabriel Landeskog on the sidelines.

But the Avalanche seemed to elevate their intensity because of it. Just like their last meeting against Colorado, the Blackhawks failed to hold a lead at any point in the game and were forced to play catch-up in the third period when they fell behind two goals.

With the regulation loss, the Blackhawks fell six points out of the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference with only a game in hand. It didn't help that Arizona picked up a point, either. Time is running out.

2. Lack of power play success reason for offensive drought

The power play was one of the main reasons why the Blackhawks turned their season around at the end of December. It was converting at a 40 percent clip for months. Obviously, that was going to be unsustainable over the course of a full season.

But it has completely dried up over the last several weeks, and it's the primary reason why the offense hasn't been firing on all cylinders as of late.

The Blackhawks had three power-play opportunities against Colorado. They recorded 12 shot attempts, six shots on goal and generated four scoring chances but couldn't find the back of the net. They're now 1-for-25 on the power play in their last 11 games. The 5-on-5 success is there, but the 5-on-4 isn't.

The Blackhawks have scored only seven goals in their past four games, which comes out to 1.75 per game. That's not going to cut it.

3. Not taking advantage of defensive improvement

It really is a shame that the Blackhawks are hitting a scoring drought at the worst possible time. Because there's noticeably been a defensive improvement over the last week. It's their best stretch in a while.

Over the last three games, the Blackhawks have allowed 20 total high-danger chances at 5-on-5, according to naturalstattrick.com, for an average of 6.7 per game. They had given up double-digit high-danger chances in 13 of their previous 17 games, including consecutive games where they allowed 20 to Montreal and 15 to Toronto.

Their season average in that department before Monday was 11.5. So they've shaved off nearly five full high quality scoring chances per game in this mini stretch. That's a huge improvement. But they haven't had much to show for it, recording one out of a possible six points.

4. Turning the page fast

Fortunately for the Blackhawks, they won't have too much time to sulk on this regulation loss. The two Central Division foes will go right back at it on Sunday night at the United Center. And that's truly a must-win game for the Blackhawks. It's why they should start Corey Crawford on back-to-back days for the first time since November 2017.

Another regulation loss would put the Blackhawks eight points back with seven games left, and it would only be a matter of time before they're mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

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