Blackhawks

Carcillo, Kane and the power play

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Carcillo, Kane and the power play

When the Blackhawks signed Daniel Carcillo last July 1st to cap off a day that also included free agent deals with Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers and Sean O'Donnell, they were fully aware of the wide range of what they were getting -- and getting themselves into -- as part of addressing their needs.

If you didn't know already, CarBomb-in-a-Can was right there for all to see since his return from a six-game injury absence in the four-and-a-half periods he played Friday and Monday.

There was the nice clean hit on Todd Bertuzzi that his teammates and Hawks fans absolutely loved, and Bertuzzi absolutely hated in that first period against the Red Wings. There was his second assist in as many games by creating a neutral zone turnover versus Edmonton, skating in and perfectly setting up Jonathan Toews for the game's first goal.

And there was his cat-and-mouse game with Tom Gilbert seven minutes into the second, sending the puck in, probably capable of winning a race to it, but playing the body full-speed below the goal line extended for a violent crash into the boards.

While Gilbert sat out Tuesday night's game in Buffalo with an apparent knee injury, the injury it looks like Carcillo sustained as Gilbert bounced back onto him might be longer-term, on top of the suspension he's sure to receive.

This high-speed game involving split-second decision-making about the consequences of contact has required an adjustment over the past year for players like Carcillo, Mayers, Ben Eager, Cal Clutterbuck, Raffi Torres, etc.

Some have learned more quickly than others, but a poor decision on a bang-bang play could only be a shift away.

You can see the potential in the signing of Carcillo with what he provided in the first four periods of his return. But between the injury and whatever discipline Brendan Shanahan and company hand down, who knows how soon we'll see Carcillo again as he recovers, serves and searches for the fine line in his style of play. And when he does come back, will the drastic swings in how he helps and hurts the team remain? It certainly won't be in what would've been his return to Philadelphia Thursday night.

Kane

Speaking of Philadelphia, it'll be the Hawks' first trip back to the scene of their greatest triumph over the past half-century.

Patrick Kane's Stanley Cup clincher turned him into the conquering hero, the toast of Chicago, and the life of the party. My bet is with Carcillo not around, Kane will hear the most grief from the City of Brotherly Haters when he takes the ice.

Here's also hoping it gets things going for him. Kane will admit to a certain extent that having just nine goals as 2012 begins is bothering him a bit. I have to think it's eating away at him more than he lets on.

With just two goals in his last 20 games, it's probably starting to reach snake-bitten levels. And while he leads the team and is among the league leaders in assists, "88" is probably wondering what his off-season conditioning commitment (before wrist surgery) and goals for a huge, Hart Trophy-worthy career year has gotten him.

He's been the good soldier, switching back and forth between center and wing, and says the most important thing is that the team is still among the best in the NHL without his hoped-for goal production. I -- and probably Kane himself -- can't believe he'll wind up with under 20 goals. He's way too gifted for that to happen, but we wait.

And yes, the good news is the team is where it is despite those numbers.

Power play unit

Kane was moved to the second power play unit at Tuesday's practice.

Back on the first unit was Andrew Brunette -- who has as many goals this season as Kane while averaging six-and-a-half fewer minutes of ice time. After scoring four power play goals the first month of the season, and with that unit in a 1-for-22 funk, the veteran with the soft hands and the "strong base" who doesn't mind camping out in front deserves the opportunity.

It's a big reason they made him one of those July 1st signings. Besides Kane, the second unit included the guy 16 years Brunette's junior to see if he can handle that position. Jimmy Hayes started his NHL career skating on a line with Brunette, and we're sure some secrets about playing that role to jump-start the PP will be shared to see if the kid can earn a longer stay with the big club than the Saads, Pirris, Morins and Smiths.

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

The Blackhawks are spending the next week focusing on their prospects at development camp, but GM Stan Bowman took care of some housekeeping items on the big club on Tuesday when he traded forward Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Zack Smith.

Anisimov had two years left on his contract that carries a $4.55 million cap hit, but his modified no-trade clause was removed on July 1, which opened up more trade possibilities. He was also owed a $2 million signing bonus when the new calendar year opened and his actual salary over the next two years dropped to $5 million total, giving a rebuilding team like the Senators a chance to add a depth forward for a lower price.

Couple that with the fact Anisimov's role with the Blackhawks has diminished over the years and you can see why this traded was made from Chicago's point of view.

"First off, Arty was a great Blackhawk," Bowman said on Tuesday. "We wish him well. I think stylistically they play different games. Both veterans, both have played in the league for a long time. I think Zack brings a different skill set to the table, something that we probably need a little bit more of. He certainly plays with a competitive side to him, plays with an edge. He's had some years in the past where he's scored a lot but I think the thing we like about his game is the versatility and you notice him. He's tough to play against out there."

Smith compiled 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 70 games for the Senators last season, and served as the alternate captain during the 2017-18 campaign. He's known to be a power forward, can play a heavy game and has experience playing center or wing. He's also expected to play a role on the penalty kill, an area the Blackhawks have been looking to address all summer long.

"It would definitely be one of the [areas] I consider my stronger points of the game," Smith said on a conference call. "I take a lot of pride in it. I enjoy it, playing against top lines and killing penalties. I think I've improved on that, especially over the last couple years. Talking to Stan and Jeremy [Colliton] this morning, they said the same thing, we want to be more responsible defensively and that's why we brought you in. I'm more than happy to accept that role and help them in any way possible."

The 31-year-old Smith has two years left on his contract that carries a cap hit of $3.25 million. With the trade, the Blackhawks opened up $1.3 million in cap space, which gives them some financial breathing room to make transactions throughout the season and potentially re-sign Brendan Perlini, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent.

"I think that was part of the deal as well," Bowman said." A benefit. We do save a little bit on the cap. We still have a little bit of work to do there, but we're looking better now than we were yesterday."

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2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 1 thoughts and takeaways

2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 1 thoughts and takeaways

Here are four thoughts and takeaways from Day 1 of Blackhawks development camp at Fifth Third Arena:

1. All eyes on Kirby Dach

There are a ton of storylines to follow at Blackhawks prospect camp, and the main focus on Day 1 was getting a first look at their No. 3 overall pick. The Blackhawks signed Dach to an entry-level contract a week ago, which was Step 1 in the housekeeping department of his development process. Monday was the first deadline for teams to sign 2019 draft picks.

The next step is seeing where Dach compares to the other prospects in the pipeline. Drafted third overall, he clearly jumps to the top in terms of talent level. It's where he's at in his development curve that will be something to monitor between now and training camp.

The Blackhawks have said all along that they're going to give Dach every chance to make the roster out of training camp, and Dach himself said immediately after he was drafted that that's a goal of his also. He wants to make the decision difficult on the management and coaching staff, and if he feels any pressure to perform this week, it's not going to be because of the organization.

"I think the biggest pressure is going to come from myself," Dach said. "I know that kind of stature of being the third overall pick there's going to be some pressure behind it but I kind of just flush it out. The only pressure that's going to come from my performance is going to be myself because I know how good I can be every day and I need to strive for that excellence."

2. Where will Adam Boqvist play next season?

While all eyes may have been on Dach, there was almost as much attention on Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. When he got drafted a year ago, Boqvist said he felt like he was still 2-3 years ago from being a full-time NHL player.

But things can change. We saw it last September when his strong training camp gave the organization something to think about when trimming their roster to 23 players. Boqvist admitted Monday that he even surprised himself.

The Swedish blue liner spent the past season with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, where he emerged as one of the top offensive defenseman in the league. He had a stellar postseason run, and played a large role on the team as an 18-year-old.

But it appears Boqvist has his eyes set on turning pro and doing so as quickly as possible.

"Of course I want to play in the NHL but we'll see," Boqvist said. "I want to turn pro quick and I think I'm pretty ready for that. ... I'm just trying to go out there and show them that I want to be on the team and everything, do my best every day."

3. Where things stand with Ian Mitchell

After Denver's season ended in April, there seemed to be an assumption among Blackhawks fans that it was only a matter of time before Mitchell signed an entry-level contract. But that wasn't exactly the case. 

One month later, Mitchell announced that he would be returning to Denver for his junior season and the school named him team captain. It immediately sparked some concern among the Chicago fanbase, wondering what that could mean for his future with the Blackhawks.

It's because their memory is still fresh from 2014, when Kevin Hayes, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the first round (No. 24 overall) in 2010, decided not to sign with the team and became an unrestricted after four years in college.

"Which is, of course, understandable, but that's not my intention whatsoever," Mitchell said. "I just want to make it known that my intentions are to sign with the Blackhawks, 100 percent. It's just I'll be going back for one more year. I don't want people to think I may be bailing because loyalty is very important to me and that's why I'm going back to Denver, but that's also why I want to sign with the Blackhawks. They've been great to me."

Mitchell, who was selected in the second round (No. 57 overall) in 2017, understands why this has been a topic of conversation and knows the fans want nothing more than for their team to succeed. But so does Mitchell, and he expects to be part of the Blackhawks' long-term plans. It just won't be until at least the 2020-21 season.

"I'm sure I'll talk to the organization this week, but I think it'd be very difficult to change my decision based on my teammates are expecting me back," Mitchell said. "I've been named the captain of Denver hockey so I just think that to leave my teammates in that spot, that'd be very difficult for me. I just feel like another year is going to be very beneficial for me. Getting that one year, more seasoned, I think I've developed a great amount in my first two years and I don't think the third year will be any different. Also pushing myself and playing big-time minutes so I'm excited about it."

4. Evan Barratt update

One of the prospects who took a significant step in their development this past season is Barratt, who finished fourth in points-per-game (1.34) among all NCAA Division I skaters. He scored 16 goals and added 27 assists in 32 games for Penn State, which was a 25-point improvement from a year ago.

And the Blackhawks' third-round pick in 2017 did this while dealing with a nagging right hip injury that he eventually had surgery on in April.

Barratt is three months into the recovery process and started skating a couple weeks ago, but he won't be participating in any on-ice workouts this week. He expects to be cleared for action in October, right around the time he begins his junior season at Penn State.

"It definitely stings a little bit," Barratt said of being restricted to off-ice workouts. "It's been a long summer so far and having to deal with it has definitely taught me a lot of things. You can always learn from watching and just being around guys and the coaches. I'm not looking at it as a setback, but definitely as a learning experience as I go into the future."

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