Blackhawks

Robin Lehner opens up on getting traded by Blackhawks

Robin Lehner opens up on getting traded by Blackhawks

Las Vegas media met Robin Lehner for the first time on Tuesday following the Golden Knight's practice.

In a complicated transaction, Lehner was first traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for winger Martins Dzierkals, a 22-year-old unsigned draft pick. Lehner and Dzierkals were then traded to Vegas, getting the Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban, defenseman prospect Slava Demin and Vegas' second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

The 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist, who was 16-10-5 as a Hawk this season with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage, was refreshingly honest with the Chicago media on a daily basis. 

The 28-year-old was a little more soft-spoken in Vegas on Tuesday, but had plenty to say on the trade and his time in Chicago. 

Similar to his Windy City tenure with Corey Crawford, Lehner will likely be splitting time in net with another No. 1 goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury.

"I just got here," Lehner said when asked about his role with the Golden Knights by Vegas reporters. "I had a couple talks with [head coach Pete DeBoer]. I'm just here whenever they need me, to do the best I can. Try to be ready and try to just help the team win when I get the chance."

Aside from Crawford, Lehner has had additional experience sharing the net with other great goalies.

"I played with good goalies my whole career, ever since my Ottawa days with (Ben) Bishop and Craig Anderson, Brian Elliott . . . it's no different," Lehner said. "I'm coming in here to do my best and [ trying] to help the team win. 

"Marc-Andre is obviously one of the best goalies in the league and he's been for his whole career, very impressive career. I got to spend time with Corey Crawford this year, which was great and get to finish out the year with Marc and it's a good opportunity for me." 

Sin City's newest goalie was a bit surprised Vegas got him ahead of the deadline. 

"I definitely was," Lehner said. "We were hearing from a few teams and Vegas came out of nowhere. I was a little shocked but really excited, pleasantly surprised. Hell of a team in here and fun to join a team that has a chance to win the Cup." 

The netminder had mixed feelings when asked if he was surprised to be traded by Chicago. 

"Yes and no," Lehner said. "[If you] asked me a few weeks ago, no. I had high hopes, but nothing happened. Never got an offer of anything, so I figured last few days that's probably going to be the case."

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How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks and NHL's salary cap

How COVID-19 crisis could impact Blackhawks and NHL's salary cap

On March 4, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told general managers that the projected salary cap for the 2020-21 season is expected to be in the range of $84 million and $88.2 million. That's roughly a $2.5 million to $6.7 million increase after it went up only $2 million last season.

But eight days later, the NHL put its season on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it's unclear if or when hockey will even resume at this point. Because of the uncertainty and the risk of the league potentially losing $1 billion in hockey-related revenue, there's legitimate concern about what the ceiling could look like after we get through this and not just for next season.

Could the NHL's salary cap stay the same? Might it even go down to help ease the escrow pain for players? Anything is possible, but it would require both the NHL and NHLPA to come to an agreement on what that artificial number could look like.

If the salary cap remains flat, the Blackhawks would be one of the many teams that would find themselves in an extremely tough position. And they better start preparing for that scenario.

As of right now, the Blackhawks' projected cap hit for next season is $74.1 million, according to Cap Friendly. That number factors in the three players on long-term injured reserve (Calvin de Haan, Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw) but also includes the current players on the roster, which comes out to 26 total, so cuts obviously must be made to get down to the maximum of 23.

But what that number doesn't include is the potential performance bonus overages and the fact the Blackhawks don't have a goaltender signed beyond this season other than Collin Delia, which doesn't leave much room for free-agent signings elsewhere. Heck, taking care of their own guys is going to be a major challenge.

The Blackhawks have nine pending restricted free agents, which most notably includes Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome. Corey Crawford is their highest-profile unrestricted free agent. Those are four key pieces the Blackhawks must try to squeeze in under the cap if the priority is to bring all of them back, and — loosely projecting — gives them around $9-10 million to do so.

You have to wonder if it makes more sense for everyone involved to agree on one-year deals and revisit things the following year after more clarity is provided on the NHL's financial situation, especially with Seattle preparing for league entry and the U.S. television deal set to expire after the 2021-22 season.

For now, the Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL are waiting to see what the next steps are. But the financial ramifications will be significant, and it's something every team must now navigate through. 

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2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 2 win over Sharks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 2 win over Sharks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After stealing Game 1 in San Jose, the Blackhawks took care of business in Game 2 by beating the Sharks 4-2 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Building a cushion

You knew the Sharks were going to come out hungry after losing Game 1 in their own building, and the Blackhawks certainly matched that intensity. 

After Andrew Ladd broke the scoreless tie at the 12:48 mark of the first period, Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Toews followed suit in the second to put the Blackhawks in front 3-0. It was crucial for the visiting team not to give the Sharks any momentum, and it wasn't until 31:08 into the game that the home team finally got on the board.

2. A make-up game on special teams?

The Blackhawks had zero power plays in Game 1, so they didn't get a chance of testing a Sharks team that had the fifth-ranked penalty kill percentage (85.0) in the regular season. But that changed in Game 2.

The Sharks racked up 22 total penalty minutes and committed six minor penalties, two of which came with 18 seconds left in the game that saw two Blackhawks get sent off as well. The Blackhawks committed only one minor penalty in the previous 59:42.

Both teams converted on the power play once, but the Blackhawks staying out of the box for the majority of the game certainly played a role in preventing the Sharks from getting within striking distance or taking control early.

3. Duncan Keith's strong performance

He didn't garner as much attention as others, but Keith was solid for the Blackhawks in Game 2. He recorded two assists, six shot attempts (three on goal), four blocked shots and led all skaters with 30:21 of ice time. No other skater logged more than 27:56.

Keith was pointless in his first five postseason games, but had nine points (one goal, eight assists) in his next nine.

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