Blackhawks

Five Things: Corey Crawford bounces back in Blackhawks win

corey-crawford-bounces-back-five-things-11-08-15.png

Five Things: Corey Crawford bounces back in Blackhawks win

OK, we get it: the second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane should probably never be broken up again.

Then again, their separation seemed to make for a happy reunion on Sunday night, and it resulted in a lot of points for each player and a 4-2 victory for the Blackhawks over the Edmonton Oilers. We’re a little under the weather – let’s go with upper body – so let’s get right to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory.

[MORE: Kane, Panarin power Blackhawks to win over Oilers]

1. The second line is great. OK, the quick down note is that all the Blackhawks’ offense is once again coming from just one line. The upside is, it’s one hell of a line to watch. The Blackhawks had 11 points on Sunday; the second line had nine of those (Kane a goal and three assists, Panarin two goals and an assist and Anisimov a goal and an assist). Asked why being with Kane and Anisimov was even better this time around, Panarin – through Viktor Tikhonov – said: “because I scored two goals.”

2. Corey Crawford’s comeback. Crawford went through two really bad games last week. He was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period against New Jersey but coach Joel Quenneville knew he’d go back to his No. 1 goaltender on Sunday vs. the Oilers. Crawford responded the right way, stopping 34 shots, including all 22 in the second period, en route to the victory. Said Crawford, “I wanted to come back strong, especially when your coach gives you the net again. You want to prove him right, do well for him. I felt a lot better.”

3. Marian Hossa fine in his return. Hossa showed no ill effects of the lower-body injury that kept him out for over a week. Hossa was his strong self on the puck, and the penalty he drew in the waning moments – a holding call on Oscar Klefbom – led to Anisimov’s power-play goal late in the game.

[NBC SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

4. Anisimov, too. The second-line center suffered a lower-body injury and missed the third period of the Blackhawks’ loss against New Jersey. But he was back anchoring that ultra-successful line and quietly going about his own goal-scoring business. Anisimov now has six on the season, and his assist on Kane’s goal gave him his 200th career NHL point.

5. The record remains the same. By that we mean the Blackhawks’ current mark of 8-6-1, which was the same record they had through their first 15 games last season. Now there are a lot of differences between this team and that one – this year’s group is much younger, and the Blackhawks still need more than one line scoring. Still, with all the turnover and injuries – Duncan Keith is still out for probably another week – the Blackhawks are doing just fine in the early going.

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.

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

NHL Draft Profile: F Filip Zadina

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Filip Zadina

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-0
Weight: 195 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Marian Hossa

Fit for Blackhawks:

You know who the Blackhawks missed last year? Hossa. It's not mentioned enough when analyzing what went wrong in 2017-18. 

Well, Zadina is a player who's got the upside of Hossa and is one of a few prospects who could potentially crack the NHL lineup this upcoming season. The scouting report above is all you need to know about Zadina's style of play, and Blackhawks fans surely nodded through the whole thing because it's exactly what the team is looking for.

However, this is a case where the Blackhawks would have to trade up to snag him if they want him, because there's little chance he'll be on the board when the eighth pick rolls around. And it's probably unlikely they would do so, given what it may take to move up a few spots.