Blackhawks

Andrew Desjardins signs two-year contract with Blackhawks

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Andrew Desjardins signs two-year contract with Blackhawks

It didn’t take Andrew Desjardins long to mesh with the Blackhawks. The trade-deadline acquisition reached a great comfort level with the team immediately and found his niche on the Blackhawks’ fourth line.

And those are big reasons why Desjardins chose to return for two more years.

Desjardins signed a two-year extension on Friday morning; Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada reported the deal carried a cap hit of $800,000 per season. The forward garnered interest from other teams but for Desjardins, the chance to stay with Chicago wasn’t worth passing up.

[MORE: Blackhawks agree to terms with defensemen Schilling, Liambas]

“Obviously the key thing is we loved it there, our entire family,” said Desjardins via conference call. “It came down to just that, you know? How much we enjoyed the city, how much we enjoyed the organization. It was a great experience and that kind of made it an easy decision for us.”

General manager Stan Bowman said on June 19 that he wanted to get Desjardins back, if possible.

“It was a nice surprise how Desjardins came in and played a huge role for us. He played a bigger role than we probably expected,” Bowman said. “You look at the minutes he gave us down the stretch, it’s maybe something you couldn’t have predicted.”

Desjardins came to the Blackhawks from the San Jose Sharks, in exchange for Ben Smith, on March 2. The move was met with little notice; more attention went to the Blackhawks’ acquiring Antoine Vermette the previous weekend. But Desjardins proved a great piece to the Blackhawks’ puzzle, and it didn’t take him long to fit into the team’s system.

“I would say about 7-10 games into playing I started to feel more comfortable. It felt like it was a pretty quick transition,” Desjardins said. “The guys were great as far as how welcoming they were and the trust happened pretty quick with the coaching, so it was a pretty easy transition.”

Coach Joel Quenneville found the right fourth-line combination when he put Desjardins with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw. When Quenneville trusts a group he gives it more responsibility, and he did that with this trio (see Game 6 against Anaheim, when those three were on the ice in the waning moments of a must-win game). The three found chemistry quickly.

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“It’s still one of those things you never really know why it worked so well,” Desjardins said. “[It’s] just being on the same page. I think we all understood what we had to do out there and I think we pushed each other to do the right things. We always had each other’s backs, not in the physical sense but in the game. We always supported each other really well. It’s hard to say sometimes what creates that chemistry but [it’s] just doing the right things and we were all on the same page.”

The Blackhawks still have a lot of work to do this offseason, especially when it comes to shedding salary. But they’ve made some solid additions; Desjardins is the latest.

“It was huge to win and obviously that helped the decision [to return to Chicago.] But again, it’s… how much we loved it in Chicago, loved the guys in the room, really enjoyed the coaching stuff and everything about the organization,” Desjardins said. “That was the biggest factor.”

 

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.” 

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula had a successful college hockey career. He compiled 127 points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 career games across four seasons at North Dakota, and served as an alternate captain during his senior year.

But before committing to college, Caggiula was being recruited by the Erie Otters of the OHL and there could've been a moment where he played with Connor McDavid and current teammates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome all at the same time.

“I remember telling Sherry Bassin, the GM of Erie, how I was going to go to college," Caggiula said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "He kept reiterating that, 'at 16 years old, we’re not going to be that great. But at 17, we’re going to be a little bit better, but not great. But at 18 and 19, those are going to be your big years and we’re going to have a really good team and we’re going to surround you with good players.’ I mean, that’s two years in the future so it’s hard to really see that.

"Looking back at it now, the players that I could have played with, they had some pretty talented players go through Erie. Even Dylan Larkin was an Erie draft pick and ended up going to Michigan. It could have been a pretty talented team there so it’s kind of funny to see how it all works out. We’re all here today coming from different paths so it’s pretty cool.”

Any chirps from the guys about his decision now?

“Yeah, Connor [McDavid] used to make fun of me all the time, you know? ‘Oh, we would have won the Memorial Cup if you would have joined the team!’ and all that sort of stuff," Caggiula joked. "We talk about it a little bit just here and there saying, ‘what a team we could have had and imagine who we would have been playing with and now we’re all here together. What if we all would have started in Erie together and now we’re here together?’ It just would have been a pretty cool story. It’s obviously something that we can’t control but it’s definitely something that you can look back at and laugh at.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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