Blackhawks trade Bryan Bickell, Teuvo Teravainen to Hurricanes

Blackhawks trade Bryan Bickell, Teuvo Teravainen to Hurricanes

The Blackhawks were looking for a way to unload Bryan Bickell’s contract, but it was going to probably cost them more than that. On Wednesday, they made that deal.

Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a second-round pick (50th overall) in this year’s NHL draft and a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL draft.

Bickell had one year remaining (a $4 million cap hit) on the four-year, $16 million deal he signed out of the 2013 Stanley Cup season. Teravainen is entering the final year of his deal ($894,166).

The Blackhawks now have approximately $61.8 million tied up in players for next season, according to Bowman said at the team’s closing meetings that he wanted to keep Andrew Shaw in the fold. Artemi Panarin, who had a fantastic rookie season with the Blackhawks, would become a restricted free agent following the 2017-18 season. Trading Bickell and Teravainen could give the Blackhawks the chance to keep both.

Teravainen was coming off a great 2015 postseason but he struggled this past regular season. He was moved around the lineup plenty, and at the trade deadline general manager Stan Bowman said he acquired Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann to give Teravainen the chance to settle in at third-line center. But that never materialized.

The 21-year-old Teravainen is entering the final year of his entry-level deal.

“We wish him well and it was a tough deal from that perspective when you have to give up a young player. By the same token, I like the fact that we’re acquiring some draft picks in this draft. And when we host the draft, the goal is to keep this thing going and have young players coming in,” Bowman said of Teravainen. “Even though Teuvo is young, it’s hard when you have young guys who are entering the final year of his first contract and then things get tricky when players get raises. We’re always looking for that next way.”

Bickell had a tremendous 2013 postseason, leading to him signing his current deal. But his play has steadily declined over the past three seasons. It reached a head last season when Bickell was sent to the Rockford IceHogs twice. After his first stint, on which he put up great offensive numbers, Bickell was recalled by the Blackhawks. But he didn’t get the same results in Chicago and was sent back to Rockford.

Will this end up being good or bad the Blackhawks? The biggest plus is it gives them the cap space they certainly needed. It also gives them a second-round pick this season (prior to this, they didn’t have a selection until the third round) and a third-round pick in 2017. But will trading Teravainen, specifically, be costly? Maybe what we saw in his game last season wasn’t just a blip; maybe he’s not going to be the player the Blackhawks hoped he would be. But if Teravainen gets his game back to the 2015 postseason level, it will be the Hurricanes’ boon.

The Blackhawks had some needs, especially with money. The salary cap may not be rising much this coming season. If they wanted to keep Shaw and Panarin, they had to make a big move to do so. Now they’ll see if it ends up being worth it.

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers


Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen


Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."