Blackhawks

Blackhawks trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

Blackhawks trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

The Blackhawks have traded goaltender Scott Darling to the Carolina Hurricanes for a third-round draft pick in 2017, the team announced Friday. The third-rounder was previously acquired from the Ottawa Senators.

"We could count on Scott in any situation as he was always reliable," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to the Blackhawks organization — including a Stanley Cup Championship team — and we wish him well as he continues his career in Carolina."

In three seasons with Chicago, the 28-year-old Lemont native had a 39-17-9 record with a 2.37 goals against average, .923 save percentage and four shutouts. He was also a key member of the 2015 Stanley Cup-winning team, helping the Blackhawks get out of the first round against the Nashville Predators.

His best year came during the 2016-17 campaign when he set a career high with 18 wins and ranked tied for fifth in the league with a .924 save percentage. He's earned the opportunity to become a full-time starter. It was always unlikely that it would be in his hometown with Corey Crawford under contract through 2019-20, but Friday confirmed that.

"I feel like I've paid my dues as a backup," Darling said at the end of the season. "And when I've had a chance to play in consecutive games I feel like I've shown that I can do it."

He also reflected on his last three years with the Blackhawks "just in case," and had nothing but great things to say about his tenure in Chicago.

"If that does happen, I wouldn't change a second of my time in Chicago," Darling said at the time. "It's been bar-none the best three years of my life. Loved every second. They've been so great to me, my teammates, coaching staff, front office, everybody's been amazing. I wouldn't change a minute."

The Blackhawks will likely look externally for a backup option next season with minor-leaguers Mac Carruth and Lars Johansson due new contracts, and 31-year-old Jeff Glass, who was the No. 3 netminder in the playoffs, having no NHL experience.

The Hurricanes currently own Darling's negotiating rights, and have until July 1 to sign him to an extension when he could hit the market as an unrestricted free agent. Contract talks have not yet started, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

They have two goaltenders (Eddie Lack and Cam Ward) under contract for one more year, meaning a corresponding move could be coming before the expansion draft. One (or both) of them would have to be exposed, assuming Darling signs before then and is protected.

The Blackhawks, who host the NHL Draft from June 23-24, now have 10 draft picks this year: a first, second, fourth, three fifth's, two sixth's and two seventh's.

Why Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy are 'a natural fit' on Blackhawks' defense

Why Calvin de Haan and Connor Murphy are 'a natural fit' on Blackhawks' defense

Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan hadn't played in an NHL game that counted since having shoulder surgery in December. He had six points (one goal, five assists) and a +/- rating of +10 in 29 games with Chicago before the procedure.

The NHL pause on March 12, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed him to recover and be back in the Hawks' lineup for the NHL's 24-team postseason tournament.

De Haan, who missed the majority of the Blackhawks' Phase 3 training camp dealing with a family emergency, was on the Hawks' second pairing with defenseman Connor Murphy in Saturday's 6-4 Game 1 win over the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. 

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Murphy, who missed time at camp with a groin injury, had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) and a +/- rating of +2 in 58 games with the Hawks during the regular season.

Together, de Haan and Murphy were a dependable pair against the speedy and skilled hometown Oilers, and got better as the game went on. Both D-men logged a +/- rating of 0 in Game 1 with four hits and one blocked shot a piece. Murphy also fired four shots at Edmonton's net. 

Related: Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews lift Blackhawks over Oilers in Game 1

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton liked what he saw from de Haan in his first official game back since the surgery, and from the pairing as a whole.

"Very solid and more and more comfortable as he gets more time on the ice," Colliton said of de Haan's game on Saturday. "Together with Murph, they haven’t played together a whole lot, seems like a natural fit. But with the injuries both had – Murph was injured early and de Haan the whole second half – they haven’t had the chance to play together much. Now they’re together, I think they’ll get better and better as we go. They were solid for us."

Murphy felt the Hawks' team game as well as his and de Haan's relationship off the ice allowed the pair to be effective so far in the tournament. 

"It's been great playing with Haaner," Murphy said. "These games haven't been so hard defending against St. Louis (Wednesday's 4-0 exhibition win) or Edmonton so far just because of how great we played as a team and limited a lot of their speed and offense. 

Related: 5 Blackhawks historic facts from Game 1 win of Stanley Cup Qualifiers over Oilers

"Overall, it's always nice playing with a veteran guy who's so smart and predictable out there and communicates a lot, and I feel like me and Haaner have a good relationship even off the ice that leads us to playing smoothly together when we're out there. I don't think it takes long to develop any sort of chemistry, especially since the team's been together all year, whether there's injuries or not. It's definitely nice to be paired with him."

If de Haan and Murphy continue to play how they did against Edmonton in Game 1, they'll be providing a lot of balance and reliability to the Hawks' blue line. The Blackhawks can definitely use a repeat in that department as the Oilers will be looking to put forth a better effort on their home turf in Game 2.

The Blackhawks take on the Oilers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifier at 9:30 p.m. CT on Monday. 

Who could take Drake Caggiula's spot in Blackhawks lineup for Game 2

Who could take Drake Caggiula's spot in Blackhawks lineup for Game 2

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Sunday that Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula has been suspended for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers after delivering an illegal check to the head on Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis in Game 1.

Caggiula logged only 11:25 of ice time on Saturday but registered four hits and one blocked shot in the 6-4 win. He was slotted in as the left wing on the third line with Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat.

The Blackhawks traveled to Edmonton with 27 skaters, which means they'll have several options on who could take Caggiula's spot in the lineup on Monday.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a video conference call on Sunday afternoon that a decision has not been made yet, probably because Caggiula's suspension was announced minutes before his media availability.

"We wish we had him in the lineup, but we won't," Colliton said. "Someone has to go in and make a difference. I don't know who it's going to be yet."

The five forwards to choose from are MacKenzie Entwistle, Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, John Quenneville and Dylan Sikura. Entwistle and Kurashev are the two players from this group who have yet to appear in an NHL game.

If the Blackhawks are looking to add another skilled player on a line that already includes Dach and DeBrincat, Sikura is the no-brainer pick. He played top-line minutes in Rockford this season and had a strong showing during the team scrimmages in training camp 2.0, particularly when he stepped in for Jonathan Toews on the first line and power-play unit during the captain's brief absence.

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Sikura also has the most NHL experience (47 games) of the five candidates, which means he could comfortably step right in and not feel out of place. That's important in the playoffs.

If the Blackhawks are looking to replace Caggiula with someone who plays a similar style, Hagel fits that script. He led the IceHogs this season in goals (19) and scored most of them in front of the net. He's a grinder who could go to the dirty areas to help retrieve pucks if that's what the Blackhawks feel best complements Dach and DeBrincat.

The downside is, Hagel has just one regular-season game under his belt, so there would likely be a feeling out period that the Blackhawks may not be able to afford.

It should be noted that Quenneville is the only player of the five who has postseason experience in the pros, although it's a very limited sample size. He registered four points (three goals, one assist) in four games for the AHL's Albany Devils in 2016-17. 

The Oilers recorded 47 hits in Game 1; their hits per 60-minute average during the regular season was 22.2. They were more physical than usual, but you wonder how much of that had to do with the fact they didn't have the puck much at even strength.

That's something Colliton and his coaching staff will discuss when deciding who could be the forward to step in for Caggiula on Monday.

"It’s established a standard for how they’re going to deal with those types of hits," Colliton said. "As the series goes on I’m sure it’s going to get a little more physical, so now we know."