Blackhawks

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

Blackhawks acquire Tomas Jurco from Red Wings

General manager Stan Bowman saw the potential in Tomas Jurco several years ago.

For the 24-year-old forward, it wasn’t working out with the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps a change of scenery, an opportunity on a team that could vie for another Stanley Cup, makes a difference. The Blackhawks are about to find out.

The Blackhawks acquired Jurco for a third-round pick in this year’s draft on Friday afternoon. The 24-year-old Jurco has played in 16 games with the Red Wings this season but has yet to collect a point. In four seasons with the Wings, Jurco had 15 goals and 24 assists in 159 games. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that, “things haven’t worked out” for Jurco there and that he wanted to go elsewhere.

Jurco was on a bye as a member of the Red Wings but, now that he’s with the Blackhawks, the bye ends. Bowman was hopeful Jurco would join the Blackhawks at practice on Saturday. Also, to clear a roster spot for Jurco, the Blackhawks reassigned Vinnie Hinostroza to the Rockford IceHogs.

[RELATED: Nick Schmaltz gaining confidence, effectiveness with Blackhawks]

Bowman said he’s been watching Jurco for a few seasons now.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” Bowman said. “He’s been an accomplished player at a lot of different levels. He’s shown flashes in the NHL, not as consistently as he or the Wings would like, but you can see the talent and potential. You have to have some patience with these guys. It doesn’t always come together right away. I’m not expecting him to carry our team but I think he can contribute.”

It was an under-the-radar trade for Bowman but that’s not surprising. In late January, Bowman said he probably wouldn’t do much at the trade deadline; he liked how the Blackhawks’ young players were progressing and figured, if that continued, the team would be in good shape. Since then the Blackhawks have won eight of their last nine and are just three points behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild. As the Blackhawks kept winning it looked like, if they did anything, it would be a depth move.

So will there be any more moves? At this point it doesn’t seem likely, be it on forward or defense – Bowman didn’t have an update on Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) but said he’s happy with the depth in Chicago and Rockford on defense. Bowman said he’ll keep talking but, “but it’s a little bit different than in previous years when I thought we definitely needed something and were lacking in an area.”

“I’ve had a feeling about our team, not just recently but even a month ago. I liked the way this group was starting to come together,” Bowman said. “We’ve seen that enhanced over the last couple of week here. We’ve seen players step up, [Nick] Schmaltz in particular. [Ryan] Hartman’s been good all year. We’ve seen Jonathan [Toews] become a dominant player again. It gives your team a confidence that you have balance, scoring in different lines. We just added a young player to help us now as well as in the future. There’s a lot to be excited about. I’m not expecting more trades. I can’t predict more will happen but I have a good feeling about this group right now.”

 

How Blackhawks embracing underdog status could work against Oilers

How Blackhawks embracing underdog status could work against Oilers

Ahead of the NHL pause on March 12 — due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the Blackhawks had almost zero chance to be in the playoffs.

They sat at No. 12 in the Western Conference, six points out of a wild card spot with four teams to jump in 12 remaining regular season games.

Now that they'll be facing the Edmonton Oilers in a little over two weeks for a chance to make a run at the Stanley Cup again, they're going to embrace the challenge.

"It’s going to be a tough series against Edmonton," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said following the Hawks' first day of training camp leading up to the postseason on Monday. "They have two of the best players in the world - if not THE two best to players in the world in (Connor) McDavid and (Leon) Draisaitl. But it’s not just those two guys. There (are) other players on their team that are dangerous. They were ahead of us in the standings, so we know we’ve got our work cut out for us. But we’re excited to have this opportunity and show that we belong and we could make some noise as an underdog."

As an underdog, most of the pressure is off Chicago and on Edmonton. The West's No. 5 team at the time of the pause is not only the favorite to beat a team that wouldn't have normally been in the postseason in the Blackhawks, but they have the added expectation of winning as the home ice club with the series being played in Edmonton. 

In March, the Hawks realistically may have either been dwelling on why they came up short again or which golf courses they should hit up. Now, they're thinking about how they have nothing to lose in a postseason they're not supposed to be in, taking on a team they're not supposed to beat. 

"I think we match up pretty well," Hawks forward Brandon Saad said after Day 2 of camp on Tuesday. "It’s something we haven’t touched upon too much here at camp. It’s more about getting ready and focusing on what we can bring to the table. But I think everyone’s looked pretty good in camp for the most part with staying in shape and trying to take advantage of getting the touches and reps in. But they have a good team and I know it’s going to be a challenge for us. But I think for us, we’re confident as a group regardless of who we’re playing. Just focus on what we can do to have success."

After Day 2's practice, Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said the team will begin strategizing for the matchup shortly.

The Hawks finish up their Phase 3 training camp on Sunday, July 26 before traveling to Edmonton to take on the Oilers.

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2020 NHL season restart: Blackhawks-Oilers full schedule and exhibition opponent

2020 NHL season restart: Blackhawks-Oilers full schedule and exhibition opponent

The Blackhawks will take on the St. Louis Blues in their lone exhibition game prior to their five-game play-in series against the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL announced Tuesday. The game will be played on Wednesday, July 29 at 5:30 p.m. CT, which is three days before the qualifying round begins on Aug. 1.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

The league also released the full schedule between the Blackhawks-Oilers:

  •  Game 1 — Aug. 1 at 2 p.m. CT
  • Game 2 — Aug. 3 at 9:30 p.m. CT
  • Game 3 — Aug. 5 at 9:30 p.m. CT
  • Game 4 — Aug. 7 (TBD)*
  • Game 5 — Aug. 8 (TBD)*

*If necessary

The Blackhawks kicked off Phase 3 of formal training camps on Monday at Fifth Third Arena, where they will have a two-week period to prepare before traveling to their hub city of Edmonton on July 26. 

Each of the 24 teams in the NHL's Return to Play format will have an opportunity to play in a tune-up game before hitting the ground running. Is there a better measuring stick for the Blackhawks than the defending Stanley Cup champions?