Blackhawks

Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys part of Blackhawks’ draft crop

Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys part of Blackhawks’ draft crop

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Chad Krys couldn’t resist the moment.

The defenseman, whom the Blackhawks selected with the 45th overall pick on Saturday, threw his GoPro into the media session of Alex DeBrincat, picked by the Blackhawks six selections prior to Krys.

“Excuse me, Alex: what would you think if you got drafted to the same team as fellow World Junior teammate Chad Krys?” Krys asked.

For two more American players, it was one more reason to smile.

DeBrincat and Krys were two of the Blackhawks’ three second-round picks as the NHL Draft wrapped up in Buffalo on Saturday. Other selections included forward Artur Kayumov of Russia (50th overall), goaltender Wouter Peeters of Belgium and defenseman Lucas Carlsson of Sweden.

“It was good to have a nice mixture and you don’t always know how it’s going to work out with what you get,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “We did a lot of work last night planning for the picks we had in the second round. I know everyone says this but we’re really excited for the guys that we got.”

About two weeks ago the Blackhawks were short on 2016 draft picks and their first wasn’t until the third round. They ended up with nine, including those three second-round selections.

“When you’re at that point of the list, there are a lot of players that are probably at an equal value. So what we’re discussing is what we’re trying to get out of with those three picks,” said Mark Kelley, the Blackhawks’ director of amateur scouting. “I don’t think we stuck verbatim through the list in the order that it was, all close. The two wingers were very, very high skilled, and the defenseman he’s just a smart, puck-moving. He’s just a mature player.

The Blackhawks' 39th overall selection, DeBrincat is a small but offensively gifted player with the Erie Otters (Ontario Hockey League). DeBrincat, who played one season with Connor McDavid, had consecutive 51-goal seasons with the Otters.

“I don’t know the exact number of guys that scored 50 goals back-to-back in the OHL. It’s a very small list. He certainly is a competitive kid and really knows how to find the back of the net,” Bowman said. “People talk about his size but he did something that is rarely done. So really impressive performance with him and we’re excited.”

Given the Otters’ proximity to this year’s draft host Buffalo, there was a pretty sizeable cheer when DeBrincat’s name was announced.

“It’s pretty hard to put into words. I’m really excited to be a part of this organization,” DeBrincat said. “It was a long day [Friday.] I didn’t really know if I was going to go or not, but I’m really happy now and glad it’s over.”

Krys, who is headed to Boston University this fall, was part of Team USA’s U20 team with DeBrincat. For Krys, who hopes to develop his game more in college, the possibility of playing for the Blackhawks one day is enticing.

“I think they like skating defensemen who can move the puck quickly, get the puck up to their forwards and handle the puck well and be involved,” Krys said. “So it’s great to be part of an organization that has defensemen who play like that.”

BLACKHAWKS’ SELECTIONS

No. 39: Alex Debrincat, F, Erie Otters

45: Chad Krys, D, committed to Boston University

50: Artur Kayumov, F, Russia

83: Wouter Peeters, G, Belgium

110: Lucas Carlsson, D, Sweden

113: Nathan Noel, C, Saint John

143: Mathias From, D, Sweden

173: Blake Hillman, D, University of Denver

203: Jake Ryczek, D, Waterloo Black Hawks

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

crawford-1020.jpg
AP

Four takeaways: 'Vintage' Corey Crawford steals two points for Blackhawks

COLUMBUS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday:

1. Corey Crawford steals the show

The Blackhawks had no business winning this game. They were being outshot 28-15 through two periods, committed four penalties and gave up 18 high-danger chances in the game. 

But Crawford bailed out his team like he often has done in the past, and was zoned in from the moment the puck dropped. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .974, picking up his first win since Dec. 17, 2017.

"Yeah, I felt good," Crawford said. "I think everyone was playing hard, rebounds, taking away sticks. That was a great effort by everyone."

"He was standing on his head for us," Patrick Kane said. "As Q would say, that’s a goalie win for us."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was vintage Crow."

2. Tic-tac-toe leads to go-ahead goal

The Blue Jackets were clearly the better team through two periods. The Blackhawks were fortunate to go into second intermission with the game still tied at 1-1.

The next goal was crucial, and they got it thanks to a Marcus Kruger redirection goal. The next one was the dagger, a beautiful give-and-go play by Brent Seabrook and Kane, who buried home a wide open net to give the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead with 4:14 left in regulation.

Was Kane expecting Seabrook to pass it back?

"No. Not a chance," Kane said laughing. "That’s his wheelhouse, coming right down there. He scores a lot of goals from that area. Saw it was like a 2-on-2, he was coming late, he jumped in the play on the first goal, did a great job, jumped in the play on that goal. Made a great pass. When I saw it come back, I just tried to stay patient, settle it down and make sure I hit the net, because I knew I had the whole open net."

3. Busy night for PK

The Blackhawks penalty kill was very busy. It was also on it's A-game, partly because their best penalty killer was Crawford.

The Blackhawks spent 6:31 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, allowing 11 shots total on it. But most importantly, they killed off all four penalties.

"We had some tough clears, but I thought we did some good things," Quenneville said. "We withstood some extended PK zone time there and found a way to keep us in the game. Obviously that next goal was huge and that second period was a big part of them having so much zone time, keeping us in our end. We'll say, hey good job, but Crow was the best penalty killer tonight."

4. Catching up with Kane on Artemi Panarin

Kane and Panarin spent only two seasons together, but they brought Blackhawks fans out of their seats on a nightly basis and it was amazing to watch the instant on-ice chemistry they shared. And most of it was non-verbal, which made it even more impressive. They were always on the same wavelength.

"Sometimes it takes time to build some chemistry but that was one of those things where it was like, I don't want to say instant chemistry, but after one or two preseason games we kind of new that maybe something special was going to happen," Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. "I think he scored in his first game in the NHL, we had a really good game, we had the puck a lot, we sensed that this could be a fun way to play hockey."

Off the ice, Kane said Panarin would use Google translate on his phone to communicate while Kane would try using a Russian accent while saying English words.

The two of them got a chance to hang out for a little bit on Friday and Kane still keeps tabs on his former linemate.

"I always really enjoy watching him," Kane said. "If we have an off night or something, he's a really fun player to watch."

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

saad_panarin_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

COLUMBUS — The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."