Blackhawks

Five Things: Blackhawks will benefit from some time off

corey-crawford-0126.png

Five Things: Blackhawks will benefit from some time off

RALEIGH, N.C. — Well, that was a forgettable one, wasn’t it?

The Blackhawks didn’t want to repeat their pre-Christmas outing, but that’s pretty much what they did when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-0, on Tuesday night. It was a forgettable outing entering the All-Star break, a respite the Blackhawks clearly need. So before we all power down for a few days, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Carolina.

1. This team needs a rest. The Blackhawks didn’t want to talk about the break or how much they might need the break. They didn’t have to: It was pretty clear from their play the last few games, and especially Tuesday’s outing, that they need to recharge. In their three recent losses, the Blackhawks have just one goal. Yep, whether they’re heading to a beach or heading home, the Blackhawks need to take advantage of the next few days.

2. Jonathan Toews fighting through it. Toews, who was fighting illness the past few days, did not play at all in the third period. Toews had taken some morning skates off which, considering how much hockey he’s played, wasn’t a huge surprise — he was still playing every game. But with the Blackhawks losing, 5-0, after two, it was a good time for Toews to shut it down.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

3. Corey Crawford pulled, but ... Crawford’s early exit was not about him. He’s been stellar these last few weeks. But with the Blackhawks having an awful outing in front of him, coach Joel Quenneville looked to stoke the team fire by benching Crawford. It didn’t really work, but if nothing else, Crawford got another 40 minutes of well-deserved rest.

4. Joakim Nordstrom scores against his former team. Nordstrom is getting an opportunity with the Hurricanes — second line currently — that he probably wasn’t going to get with the Blackhawks. And lately he’s made the most of it. Nordstrom scored his fifth goal of the season, and his third in as many games, against the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Nordstrom was always a hard worker. Good to see him taking advantage of the chance he’s received in Carolina.

5. No goals again. This is likely another sign of fatigue, but this was the second of their three losses in which the Blackhawks were held scoreless (Florida beat them 4-0 on Friday). When the second line isn’t even anywhere on the score sheet, you know it’s a bad night.

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.