Blackhawks

How NHL's expansion to Seattle affects the Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

How NHL's expansion to Seattle affects the Blackhawks

After the incredible success the Vegas Golden Knights had in their inaugural season, the NHL announced Tuesday that it will welcome a new franchise to Seattle in the 2021-22 season.

What does that mean for the Blackhawks? A couple things.

With the league expanding to 32 teams, the Western Conference will see some realignment in its divisions.

Starting in 2021, the Central Division will expand to eight teams with the Arizona Coyotes moving in to make way for the Seattle franchise in the Pacific Division. An already tough division only gets tougher.

Second, there will once again be an expansion draft which will impact all rosters around the NHL. 

When the Vegas team had their expansion draft in 2017, the Blackhawks were able to protect 11 players. The only player lost directly to Vegas in the draft was defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who was traded shortly after to Carolina.

In 2021, the NHL will follow the same rules, with the Seattle team needing to select one player from every existing club except for the Golden Knights.

The Blackhawks – and every other team – have the option to protect seven forwards, three defenseman and one goaltender. Or, they can protect eight total skaters and one goalie. The incentive to keep more than seven forwards or more than three defensmen – depending on the team – would result in the penalty of exposing more players to the expansion draft.

Players with no movement clauses in their contracts will be forced to be protected and count towards the allotted total of protected players.

The Blackhawks currently only have five players signed to contracts into 2021: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy. All but Murphy have no movement clauses. 

First and second year players, as well as unsigned draft choices, are exempt from the draft and do not need to be protected. 

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A look at how far Blackhawks have come to battle themselves into playoff picture

A look at how far Blackhawks have come to battle themselves into playoff picture

For a brief moment on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks found themselves sitting in the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference. Then the Avalanche won, bumping them out because Colorado owns a higher points percentage by having a game in hand.

But it was enough for the city of Chicago to look at the standings and go to sleep wondering: How the heck did the Blackhawks get here?

Think about this: Just 32 days ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were in the basement of the entire National Hockey League. Dead last. And now they're knocking on the door.

To put it all into perspective, let's visualize it. Here's a look at the Blackhawks' day-by-day playoff percentage change this season, courtesy of sportsclubsstats.com:

At one point, the odds were as low as 0.05 percent, which came on Dec. 16 after a 7-3 loss to San Jose. It eventually reached 1.43 percent on Jan. 6 following a 5-3 victory over Pittsburgh, but regressed back to 0.3 percent on Jan. 19 after losing their fifth straight against the New York Rangers.

Since that point, the Blackhawks' chances have increased to 19.6 percent. It's the first time the odds are above 18 percent since Nov. 7, which was the day after Jeremy Colliton took over as head coach. It's truly amazing how far they've come, and how poor the West has been that has allowed a playoff berth to be remotely possible.

To make things even more exciting in Chicago, the Blackhawks have a gigantic weekend with pair of home games against the Avalanche and Dallas Stars, both of whom occupy the two wildcard positions.

Imagine the updated graph if the Blackhawks can turn those into regulation wins...

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Patrick Kane streaking into wildcard weekend in Chicago

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Patrick Kane streaking into wildcard weekend in Chicago

On the latest Hawks Talk podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis preview a wildcard weekend in Chicago, discuss Patrick Kane continuing his point streak, the latest on Corey Crawford, what Colin Delia needs to work on, and how the Hawks will approach the trade deadline.

1:00 - Hawks winning when not playing their best

1:45 - Kane extends point streak to 19 games

3:00 - Can Kane surpass his previous 26-game point streak?

8:33 - DeBrincat reaches 33 goals this season

10:30 - Hawks get ready to take on Avs and Stars

13:30 - Update on Corey Crawford status

16:00 - Crawford play before the trade deadline?

17:30 - Crawford being around affecting Colin Delia?

18:30 - What Delia needs to work on

21:00 - How the Hawks will approach Monday's trade deadline

14:00 - Is Gustav Forsling the only defenseman the team would move?

26:00 - Are Perlini and Sikura part of the long-term plan with the Hawks

28:00 - How Artem Anisimov's contract will affect his future with the Hawks

29:00 - Would the Hawks be willing to move Brandon Saad?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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