Blackhawks

Five things from Blackhawks-Penguins: A tale of two power plays

hawks-penguins-insider-0106.png

Five things from Blackhawks-Penguins: A tale of two power plays

Another night, another game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, another victory: it was a nice two-game set for the Blackhawks, who beat the Penguins 3-1 on Wednesday night to win their fifth consecutive game.

And once again, a certain young forward figured prominently in the outcome. But we’ll get to that soon enough. Here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ second victory in as many nights over the Penguins.

1. Artemi Panarin delivers again. Panarin is midway through his first NHL season and it’s been a pretty nice one thus far. He added three goals in these two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who may be quickly becoming his favorite opponent. Said coach Joel Quenneville of Panarin’s shot, “he snaps it. That’s the deception of it that can catch goalies. He has pace behind it, too. you put the two together, it’s lethal.”

2. A tale of two power plays. The Blackhawks’ power play is good, as in second-in-the-NHL good. At home it hasn’t been nearly as opportunistic, especially lately. The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on it on Wednesday night, not even registering a shot on their third advantage. It ultimately didn’t cost them, but it didn’t help, either. But…

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. The penalty kill comes up big. Yes, Evgeni Malkin’s goal came on a power play, and it was one heck of a shot. But on the Penguins’ ensuing power plays, the Blackhawks’ kill was stellar. The Blackhawks killed off three of four Penguins advantages, any of which could have changed the Penguins’ fortunes on Wednesday night. Said Andrew Desjardins, “you’re short a man so you’re not going to stop every one. There are going to be goals scored. It’s just to rebound from those goals and do your job the next time out.”

4. A nice night for the opposing goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury had Trevor van Riemsdyk frustrated with his great blocker stop on the defenseman in the second period. Fleury did that to a few Blackhawks on Wednesday night, thwarting several golden opportunities. Seriously, Panarin was the only guy to solve him – Teuvo Teravainen’s goal was an empty-net effort – and Panarin’s were just beautifully placed.

5. Not a bad first half. Actually the Blackhawks are one game past the midway point, and what started as an up-and-down season has leveled off. The Blackhawks are finding a nice little rhythm right now. Sure, they’d still like to get more balanced scoring on a consistent basis. But things are coming together and they’re in good shape in the Central Division. Not a bad first 41, er, 42.

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?

artemi_panarin_usa_today.jpg
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.