Blackhawks

Blackhawks working to improve power play

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Blackhawks working to improve power play

DENVER Five Blackhawks gathered on one side of the Magness Arena ice at the University of Denver on Wednesday afternoon. Next five had their turn. Repeat. Practice makes perfect. Or at least, hopefully, it makes production.

The Blackhawks power play has been another source of frustration this season, and especially during this recent 0-5-1 skid. So on Wednesday, with several players out with illnesses, the Blackhawks spent practice solely on that listless power play.

It worked out that the guys who were on the ice are power-play guys. We were moving it around pretty good, said coach Joel Quenneville. That has to be a point of emphasis; that we have to rely on that to get us through tough times. We dont want it to lose momentum for us like it has recently.

That happened as recently as Tuesday night in the Blackhawks 5-2 loss against the Colorado Avalanche. They were down 3-2 in the third period when they went on two power plays within four minutes of each other. The Blackhawks didnt even get a shot on goal in either. Same goes for a first-period power play.

We know if we score a power-play goal last night its a different game. But we didnt, Marian Hossa said. Were just trying to make things more simple, more flowing, get the basics and just take shots at the net. Right now we feel like we can win the games by the power play and were not scoring any goals.

Theyve now gone four consecutive games without a goal on the man advantage (0 for 10). The Blackhawks road power play was ranked eighth in the league prior to Tuesdays game, but recent outings arent helping that figure or the Blackhawks win-loss record.

Its been letting us down and could be a key part of us winning games, said Patrick Kane, who was on the first power-play unit with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Hossa and Brent Seabrook. We practiced it and I think we have some different setups, things to be excited about. Hopefully it starts clicking soon because its a big part of us losing games here.

The Blackhawks are trying to improve a bunch of parts to their game right now. The power play is just one portion thats been struggling.

The power plays huge for us, Sharp said. We want to put teams away and a big goal does a lot. Today we saw some good units and a lot of guys playing different schemes. Its a work in progress.

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?

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USA TODAY

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.