Blackhawks

Five Things: Slow start dooms Blackhawks in loss to Predators

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Five Things: Slow start dooms Blackhawks in loss to Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two steps forward, one step back.

That’s probably the best way to describe the Blackhawks’ last few games, including their forgettable 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Just when the Blackhawks looked like they were making progress they mailed in this one. That garbage can coach Joel Quenneville talks about throwing some games into? Yeah, this one would qualify. But before we call it a night on Broadway, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to Nashville.

[MORE: Kane extends point streak but Blackhawks throttled by Predators]

1. What the heck was that? That’s probably what you all were asking during the Blackhawks’ first 20 minutes. The Predators came with everything they had, from energy to hits to shots, and the Blackhawks showed absolutely nothing in response. Quenneville used the word “ugly” twice to describe the Blackhawks’ start in this one. It’s hard to argue otherwise.

2. Give them a few more Andrew Shaws. If there was one guy who showed mettle throughout this one it was Shaw. The Blackhawks third liner had the most energy, showed the most drive toward the net and was willing to go up against a much bigger Barret Jackman to try and light a fire under the Blackhawks’ collective behind. Shaw came away with bloodied knuckles. The Blackhawks came away still looking uninspired.

3. Scott Darling under siege. The Blackhawks’ backup goaltender faced 18 Predators shots in the first period. Through the first seven or eight minutes he held strong, batting away one prime chance after another. He eventually gave up four. But Quenneville wasn’t putting this loss on his goaltender. “Chances not as frequent and the quality wasn’t as high, but it wasn’t the goalie’s fault. At all,” he said.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Patrick Kane continues his streak. This really was about the only thing to get giddy about from the Blackhawks’ standpoint. Kane punched home a loose puck – and replays, much to Pekka Rinne’s chagrin, did show the goaltender never had control of the puck – to extend his point streak to 24 games. But, as Shaw observed, “I know he’s the type of guy who would rather have the win than keep the streak going.”

5. Take a lesson. The Blackhawks got a reminder on Thursday of what happens when they start poorly. They have about 24 hours to get over it and learn something. Winnipeg, a 6-4 winner over Columbus tonight, will probably still be ticked about their loss in Chicago last Sunday. The Blackhawks had better be prepared for an opponent looking to start the way the Predators did tonight.

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.