Blackhawks

Hawks help reunite soldier, family for holidays

Hawks help reunite soldier, family for holidays

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010
3:01 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Handley family was getting an inside look at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. But it was nothing compared to the surprise that awaited them in the locker room.

Lance corporal George Handley was flown into Chicago by the Blackhawks and surprised his family after the teams practice at Johnnys Ice House West. Handley, who just turned 20 on Sunday, flew in from Japan this morning and will be home through early January.

Handleys homecoming was orchestrated by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, along with the USO of Illinois. Toews and Kane gave the Handley family a quick tour through the facility before bringing them into the locker room. A few moments later, George came out from a side room to surprise his family.

Handley hadnt seen his family in seven months and wasnt planning to come home until 2012.

Being overseas, I dont get many opportunities to come home because of the cost, said Handley, who wore a Blackhawks sweater with his name on the back. The Blackhawks gave me a plane ticket. All I had to do is take leave and they were taking care of it. Now I get to see them and Im happy.

Anthony Enrietto of the USO of Illinois, said Kane and Toews did a great job getting it together.

Patrick and Jonathan told the Hawks they wanted to bring a soldier home for Christmas. The Blackhawks contacted the USO of Illinois and we were able to make it happen, Enrietto said. With all the Blackhawks have done with veterans and active duty members on the ice, the awareness of what these guys do every day really just hit home, especially at Christmas.

Toews, who will be having some family in town soon himself, enjoyed the moment.

Im excited to see my little brother for Christmas. I cant imagine what its like for a guy like George to come home unexpectedly and have his brothers and sisters almost in tears when he walks in, he said. We were taking them around the room. I think they were getting bored with us so it was amazing to bring him in.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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.