Hawks Insider

Lafferty hopes to have found home with Hawks: 'I love it here'

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider
Sam Lafferty

When Evgeni Malkin was nearing his return to the lineup in January after missing the first few months of the season with a knee injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins needed to open up a roster spot and Sam Lafferty was the odd man out, through no fault of his own.

Instead of putting him on waivers, the Penguins worked out a deal with the Blackhawks that sent Lafferty to Chicago and Alex Nylander to Pittsburgh. A change-of-scenery-type trade for both.

It's an important season for Lafferty, whose two-year contract that carries a $750,000 cap hit expires at the end of the campaign. And although he's played only 16 games with his new team so far, Lafferty is hoping to have found a home with the Blackhawks.

"I think anything can happen, but I love it here so far," Lafferty said after practice on Thursday. "For me, I just have to take care of business on the ice, that’s the most important part. But it’d be awesome if it worked out."

It didn't take very long for interim head coach Derek King to fall in love with Lafferty's game. A few weeks in and Lafferty already had the trust of the coaching staff because of the style he plays and consistency of his game.

"I like his pace," King said. "I like the way he plays. He's a really good PK guy. He brings a lot of energy to this group. I'd like to have a few more players like him. Is he going to dangle everybody and pop in 30 goals? No. But he's going to help other lines create stuff."


Lafferty's versatility is what makes him a nice piece on the bottom-six. He plays with speed, goes to the hard areas, can be a possession driver on a line, and can do so playing center or wing.

He has only one goal to show for it with the Blackhawks, but he's been working closely with Brian Keane to see which areas he can improve upon that could eventually translate on the scoresheet.

"Hopefully the finish comes," Lafferty said smiling. "That would be great. ... For me, it’s a lot of my play down low and then figuring out how to create chances around the net with tips and things like that. It’s something we’re definitely working on."

The offensive numbers will slowly start to come if he continues to go to those dirty areas, which has been a theme more often than not when he's out there.

When Lafferty has been on the ice during 5-on-5 action, the Blackhawks have produced 39 high-danger chances and have allowed just 26, per Natural Stat Trick. That percentage ranks No. 1 on the team. And yet the Blackhawks have been outscored 11-3 with him on the ice, which probably has something to do with the fact he typically plays against the opponent's top lines.

In the big picture, Lafferty is a nice complementary role player who can provide a spark higher in the lineup when needed. The Blackhawks haven't been afraid to give him some important responsibilities, and Lafferty likes that.

"I’ve been given tons of opportunity and I’m really grateful for that," he said. "I just want to keep growing and keep playing to my strengths as much as I can. As far as that goes, I think it’s been great so far."

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