Blackhawks Mailbag: Will Hawks make another move before trade deadline?


Blackhawks Mailbag: Will Hawks make another move before trade deadline?

As we begin this latest mailbag, a quick message from us to you: we wish you all a very happy, healthy and Merry Christmas. This is the time of year when the emphasis is on family, on helping others and on giving.

Yet, we’re still in the midst of hockey season. And in our latest mailbag the not-so-surprising questions were at the top of some lists: what will the Blackhawks be receiving, either now or at the trade deadline?

Well, let’s first get general manager Stan Bowman’s thoughts. He was asked if any other moves were coming after the Blackhawks got Rob Scuderi for Trevor Daley earlier this month:

“I’m really not looking at the deadline here. It’s mid-December,” he said at the time. “We’ve got a lot of hockey to be played and things change over time so whether it’s play or injuries, or certain other players emerging, we’re trying to stay focused. We’ve got a new player in the lineup here and we’ll see how that kind of settles down, but not really focused on moves. I guess that’ll pick up as we get going here and get closer to the deadline itself.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your copy of the One Goal III book]

My two cents, I’m sure the Blackhawks will do something. One of the aspects about the Scuderi-Daley deal was the Blackhawks got some cap space out of it. Bowman said that was key. The Blackhawks haven’t had much wiggle room the last few seasons, so this gives them that when the trade deadline rolls around on Feb. 29. You look at what they’ve done the last few deadlines (last year a special case, certainly, with Patrick Kane’s LTIR status providing a ton of cash): they’ve done all right.

Now, let’s get to the rest of the mailbag. My apologies for those I don’t address this time. 

I think Crawford’s been great lately. The guy won seven of his last nine starts, and that included three shutouts. Around the time his hot streak started Crawford talked about getting complacent when he wasn’t playing well. He never went into detail of what led to that complacency, but there’s no doubt he snapped out of it.

I thought he was fine. I think there are times he gets hesitant around the blue line with his passes. That’s not a good place to be overthinking. And his penalty was a bad-timing one: the Blackhawks had a pretty good deal of momentum at the time. Overall, though, the Blackhawks have to be thrilled with what the kid’s done to this point. He’s been a tremendous addition. 

I’m throwing these two together. First, on Bickell: if the Blackhawks choose to send Bickell down again they’d have to go through waivers again, like they did before the season began in October. At this moment, I’m not sure if they’d do that but we’ll see.

As for Dano, I’ve said this before and cannot stress this enough: this is a 21-year-old kid with tons of potential but we have to tap (perhaps slam) the brakes on what’s expected of him now. I wish I could throw out the stats from Columbus last year because I think too many are assuming he would just do the same, or be even better, this season. He’s learning, and as Bowman said recently, they want Dano playing big minutes and in many situations. Right now, he wouldn’t do that in Chicago. Where do you fit him among the top six right now? Perhaps he gets in the top nine, but then we’re back to him not playing the necessary minutes. To trot out the line that Bowman told us with Teuvo Teravainen two seasons ago, everyone has to be patient. I think that worked out fine.

I’ll take the 2015 Cup team. I remember coach Joel Quenneville saying this year’s Cup was probably the toughest one to attain. A trying series vs. Nashville (I know they had that in 2010, too) with goalie changes and a tough, low-scoring series against the Tampa Bay Lightning gives the 2015 team my vote.

I don’t know if I’d say the Blackhawks are inconsistent right now. They won seven of their last 10 heading into the break. As far as big games, they’ve won some of those, too, as well as some games they probably shouldn’t have won (please see Buffalo). The Blackhawks don’t have the greatest road record (6-7-3) but many of those losses came earlier this season, when the Blackhawks were definitely struggling with inconsistency and a lineup that hadn’t come together yet. Regarding the potential “hangover” with points left on the table early? Perhaps. But I still think what they’ve done lately has helped tremendously.

Well, right now there wouldn’t be any changes due to the roster freeze and the fact that Hartman is suspended the next three games for Rockford. Mashinter didn’t play much the other night against Dallas, so who knows if the Blackhawks swap guys once the freeze is over. Hartman was up here earlier. I seem to remember his first game being pretty good but then things got quiet.

You got part of it in your answer: it’s going to depend on need and on what players are standing out in Rockford. Right now, I see the roster standing pretty pat once the freeze ends. There hasn’t been a dire need; the one the team did have recently was filling Marcus Kruger’s place, and Phillip Danault is doing just fine at that.

[MORE: Blackhawks in good shape heading into Christmas break]

There are a lot of good parts of the job. I love covering the game, love the travel and I’ve been fortunate to cover some pretty impressive events, even before I covered the Blackhawks. Worst parts are the travel (anyone who’s spent more than an hour in an airport knows it gets to you after a while) and how much you miss in life. You miss birthdays, some holidays, dinners, get-togethers, dates, all of that. I’m lucky that many in my life understand the job and the hours, but you still hate having to say “no” so often.

I’m not going to delve into off-the-record conversations or anything like that, because they’re off the record. I guess my favorite times would be on the road, when (if) I can get away from the rink and from the computer for a while: dinners, walking around a city, anything like that.

One can only hope. If nothing else, it can be a honing device for The Schwartz. 

Please don’t make me choose.

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?


Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.