Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Is Antoine Vermette on outside looking in?

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Blackhawks: Is Antoine Vermette on outside looking in?

The Blackhawks rolled through their lines on Monday, the ones that included Patrick Kane and Brad Richards, both back from injuries.

But one player was absent from those top four lines: Antoine Vermette, whom the Blackhawks acquired prior to the trade deadline to help bolster their strength at center.

[RELATED - Patrick Kane could be ready to go for Game 1]

Vermette has had a tough go in his time with the Blackhawks; he’s been moved around the lineup, from center to wing, and is still looking for his first goal with his new team. So as the Blackhawks prepare for Game 1 against the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, is Vermette on the outside looking in?

“We’ll see,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know he’s got some experience there in the middle. Depth is something organizationally you need and some guys are ahead of other guys now based on performance. We’ve got to make decisions.”

Vermette had several suitors prior to the trade deadline. The Blackhawks emerged victorious in that sweepstakes, giving the Arizona Coyotes their first-round draft pick from this year’s draft as well as defenseman Klas Dahlbeck. He started as the second-line center and went back to that spot when Richards suffered an upper-body injury late in the season. In between, however, he’s played third line and also wing. In the 19 regular-season games with the Blackhawks, Vermette had three assists.

[RELATED: Stanley Cup Playoffs: Full schedule for Blackhawks-Predators]

Asked if he expected to play in this series vs. the Predators, Vermette said, “yes I think so.” He admits the lack of production has been frustrating.

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “You don’t want to get over frustrated but it would’ve been nice to contribute more on the score sheet, that’s for sure. But I’m a big believer in the process and don’t try to focus on the end there. Hopefully I can turn things around in that department.

“You have to be consistent, take care of little details and small battles, bring that excitement, that focus,” Vermette said of what it takes to thrive in the postseason. “It’s a lot of fun. You bring that excitement, that intensity and try to make a positive impact.”

So when will Vermette play? The Blackhawks gave up a high pick and a prospect in the hopes of getting a player who could help them late in the regular season and in the playoffs. It would be hard to believe he wouldn’t play at some point against the Predators. At the same time, with Vermette not playing well, he may start this series watching from the bench.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Blackhawks fans!]

“We always say it doesn’t matter how much money you make or who you are: your performance is going to dictate everything you get and everything you’re going to earn," Quenneville said. "On a need basis, I think organizationally [with] depth you get tested and challenged as you move along here in playoffs. We’re going to need everybody and everything changes instantly in our game. That’s being prepared and having some versatility in your lineup choices is always something you got to look at. That’s kind of where we’re at.”

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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Calvin de Haan on what it will be like to play for former teammate Jeremy Colliton

Calvin de Haan on what it will be like to play for former teammate Jeremy Colliton

When Jeremy Colliton was hired as the Blackhawks head coach in November of 2018, he immediately became the youngest NHL bench boss at age 33. In fact, he was even younger than some of the guys he was coaching (Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, to name a few).

It was a weird dynamic at first, but quickly normalized once the locker room realized how bright of a hockey mind Colliton had/has.

Calvin de Haan offers a unique perspective. After being acquired by the Blackhawks in the summer, an interesting storyline was brought to light. He and Colliton actually played together during the 2011-12 season with the New York Islanders organization, where Colliton served as the captain of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

While he may not have expected it to come this quickly, de Haan isn't surprised to see Colliton behind an NHL bench at such a young age.

"Looking back on it now, you realize that he has the qualities to be a successful coach," de Haan said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Smart guy, very methodical I don't envision him being a yeller or a screamer but he was a guy who always kind of spoke and everyone kind of listened. I'm assuming it's going to translate to his coaching style and just judging by his personality you can see why he's climbed the ranks pretty quick. I'm really excited to play for him."

Check out the interview in the video above.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.