Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Here come the Kings

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NHL Power Rankings: Here come the Kings

For the second straight week, the Canadiens own the top spot in our Week 4 NHL Power Rankings even though Carey Price (lower-body injury) will miss the next week. But the Kings, who are on a seven-game winning streak, are closing in quickly.

Check in with CSNChicago.com for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015-16 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

11-2-0, 22 points: Carey Price will be sidelined for a week with a lower-body injury, meaning here's the Canadiens' chance to prove they don't ride and die with last year's Hart Trophy and Vezina winner.

2  

8-2-0, 16 points: The Capitals have been the most consistent team through Week 4, ranking in the top 10 in both goals per game (3.40), goals against (2.30), power play (24.1 percent) and penalty kill (87.9).

3   10 

7-3-0, 14 points: After starting the season 0-3-0, the Kings have rolled off seven straight wins, six of which have come against Western Conference opponents.

4   4

9-2-0, 18 points: The Stars finished No. 2 last year in goals scored with 257; they're on pace to score close to 300 goals this season. Anybody flinch? We didn't either.

5  

7-2-2, 16 points: The Rangers will face their biggest test of the season on Tuesday when they welcome the Capitals, who are a better team than when the two last squared off in last year's Conference Semifinals.

6   9

8-2-1, 17 points: The Blues remain the NHL's best puck possession team with a 56.3 Corsi For, and they're doing it without Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera, Patrik Berglund and Kevin Shattenkirk.

7  

7-2-2, 16 points: In their last four games, the Predators are 1-1-2 and have scored just eight goals in that span. Same old story?

8  

6-3-3, 15 points: John Tavares has missed the last two games with an illness, and the Islanders didn't look good without him after falling to New Jersey and Buffalo.

9   17 

7-4-0, 14 points: After losing three straight to start the season, the Penguins have won seven of their last eight and rank No. 1 in goals against per game. Once the offense starts to come, look out.

10   13

7-2-2, 16 points: The Wild struggled to score goals a year ago, but that hasn't been the case so far this season after ranking No. 5 in goals per game (3.18), a significant increase from the 2.77 they averaged last year.

11  

6-5-0, 12 points: The Blackhawks are 3-2-0 since Duncan Keith went down with a knee injury, but his presence will be missed with upcoming contests against a pair of Western Conference foes in Los Angeles and St. Louis. And now they may be without Marian Hossa (lower-body) for both of those games.

12   11 

7-4-1, 15 points: The Jets are allowing the fourth-most shots per game (32.0), but they're averaging exactly 3 goals per game. 

13  

6-5-2, 14 points: Steven Stamkos has one point in his last five games, and the Lightning are 1-3-1 because of it.

14   19 

6-3-1, 13 points: Maybe the Bruins won't be as bad as everyone thinks they'll be: 6-0-1 in their last seven games, including four straight wins. We'll find out with upcoming games against Dallas, Washington, Montreal and N.Y. Islanders.

15   20

5-2-4, 14 points: The roller-coaster season continues for the Canucks: 3-0-1 in their first four games, 0-2-2 in their next four, and 2-0-1 in their last three.

16   21 

6-4-1, 13 points: After starting the season 0-3-0, the Devils have registered at least a point in seven of their last eight games.

17   12 

6-5-0, 12 points: The Sharks badly miss Logan Couture (broken leg), especially on offense, losing five of their last seven games after starting the season 4-0-0.

18   15 

5-4-2, 12 points: Already without Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers hope to get their leading-scorer Jaromir Jagr back on Wednesday after missing the last two games with a lower-body injury.

19   16 

5-5-1, 11 points: The Red Wings are the second-worst puck possession team with a 46.0 Corsi For, and are 2-5-1 in their last eight games after winning three straight to start the year.

20   24 

5-4-2, 12 points: The Senators haven't scored a power play goal in 14 straight tries, and it doesn't help that their leading scorer Mark Stone is suspended for the next two games (illegal hit).

21    14

4-4-2, 10 points: Jakub Voracek has three points (no goals) in 10 games following an offseason in which he signed an eight-year, $66 million contract extension.

22   25  5-7-0, 10 points: The Hurricanes have been a pleasant surprise so far, but they may regret not sending 18-year-old stud defenseman Noah Hanifin down to the AHL, burning the extra year of his entry-level contract.
23   27

5-7-0, 10 points: Rookie Linus Ullmark has given the Sabres in a boost in net, going 2-1-0 in his first three games with a 2.03 goals against average and .930 save percentage.

24   18

5-5-1, 11 points: The Coyotes have come back down to earth after starting the season 3-0-0, but Max Domi and Anthony Duclair are bringing the excitement back to Arizona.

25 30 

2-7-2, 6 points: The Ducks had another dismal week, but they finished strong with an impressive win over Nashville without Ryan Getzlaf. Could this be the start of the turnaround?

26   23 

4-8-0, 8 points: The Oilers overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat Carey Price and the Canadiens, 4-0, last Thursday, a confidence-building win for a young team.

27 30

3-7-1, 7 points: The Blue Jackets are 2-3 since John Tortorella has taken over, and they haven't lost by more than a goal. The fight is back, the results will come ... slowly but surely.

28 26

3-7-1, 7 points: Losing ground in the Central Division may be worse than gaining it, and that's exactly what the Avalanche are doing.

29 28

3-8-1, 7 points: It took the Flames 12 games to earn their first regulation win.

30 22

1-7-2, 4 points: The Maple Leafs haven't won in more than two weeks, and to make things worse, they've lost to Phil Kessel and the Penguins twice already.

*Advanced stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com.

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

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USA TODAY

Stan Bowman plays coy when asked about pitching free agent John Tavares

The unrestricted free agent market opens up for the NHL on July 1. Five-time All-Star John Tavares is will reportedly be meeting with five different teams to talk about the possibility of leaving the only team he's played for his entire career, the New York Islanders. 

After a highly disappointing 33-39-10 finish to the 2017-18 season, many expect Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to be very aggressive this offseason. When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle if the Blackhawks would be one of the five teams going after Tavares, Bowman gave a very reticent answer.

"I woudn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile. 

"No, I'm not going to comment on that, but I know we're gonna have a lot of discussions over the next five or six days and we'll see where it goes."

Reports indicate that the Islanders and Tavares had been trying to work out the terms of a long-term extension, but with so many attractive options out there, it will be a tough decision for him. There are several teams coming off of playoff runs expected to go after Tavares, including Tampa Bay, Las Vegas and San Jose. In addition to those teams, his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be in play as well.

But Chicago's rough year was so out of place for a team so used to winning consistently, that one can imagine their pitch will be enticing.

Elliotte Friedman of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada had this to say about the Blackhawks potential pursuit of Tavares: "They're not going to tolerate being that bad again, they're going to try something. I think they'll make a run at John Tavares too. I do, I think they'll ask, is there any way we can get him here?"

When taking all of this into account, it is sure to be an extremely exciting free agency period for the Blackhawks. The team is in full "re-tool" rather than "rebuild" mode, and there have been discussions that Kane may be becoming the more vocal leader of the team. But the addition of Tavares to a core of Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford could boost the Blackhawks back into Stanley Cup contention. 

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

A recap of the Blackhawks' selections in the 2018 NHL Draft, and their scouting reports, including analysis from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and VP of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

Round 1, pick 8: Adam Boqvist, defenseman

Round 1, pick 27: Nicolas Beaudin, defenseman

Round 3, pick 69: Jake Wise, center

— What you need to know: Wise, 18, scored 11 goals and dished out 32 assists in 38 games for the United States National Team Development Program last season. He also scored a goal and added four assists in seven games during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. Wise will play at Boston University next year.

— Scouting report: Wise is 5-foot-10, 194 pounds and is known to be an excellent skater. He's also responsible in his own end, which is a trait the Blackhawks always appreciate in their younger players.

— Player reaction: "I thought the Hawks were probably one of the teams I was going to go to for the longest time. I don’t know why, but I always had a gut feeling. And to go to the Blackhawks, it’s unbelievable. Unbelievable organization and I couldn’t be happier."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's just a really smart two-way centerman. He had a great start to the season and then he missed some time and it was ironic when he came back, it was the same time Jack Hughes joined the team and all of a sudden they had a No. 1 and No. 2 center and the team really took off."

Round 3, pick 74: Niklas Nordgren, forward

— What you need to know: Nordgren, 18, compiled 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 28 games for Jr. A SM-liiga in the HIFK U20 league, and produced at a point-per-game rate in the playoffs with six goals and four assists in 10 games. He also reigstered 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in seven games for Finland during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. He plans to return to Finland next season.

— Scouting report: Nordgren is an undersized winger (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) but has the ability to score and can play in any situation.

— Player reaction: "Pretty exciting to get [drafted by the] Blackhawks, one of my favorites teams in the NHL."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He has great instincts around the net, he has a really good stick in traffic. I think if you look and track his goals you'll find they're goal scorers goals. He gets in the dirt, he's not afraid and he's just got a really great release."

Round 4, pick 120: Philipp Kurashev, forward

— What you need to know: Kurashev, 18, recorded 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) in 59 games for the Québec Remparts of the QMJHL, and added one goal and four assists in six postseason contests. He also scored a goal and added two assists in five games with Switzerland during the Under-20 World Junior Championship.

— Scouting report: Kurashev is 6-foot-0, 190 pounds and is known to be a smooth skater who can blow past defenders during odd-man rushes. There are concerns about his effort level, but the package is there and that's what attracted the Blackhawks.

— Analysis from Kelley: "Really smart, skilled centerman but he's also really strong on his skates. We thought he had a really good year this year. We think he's better acclimated, we expect him to have a real good year this year coming back."

Round 5, pick 139: Mikael Hakkarainen, forward

— What you need to know: Hakkarainen, 20, accumulated 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 36 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL last season, and added an assist in three playoff games. He was a member of the Chicago Steel for 16 games in 2016-17, where he recorded four assists. Hakkarainen will play at Providence College for the 2018-19 season.

— Scouting report: Hakkarainen is 6-foot-1, 194 pounds and can be an impact-type player and contribute on special teams.

— Analysis from Kelley: "I think what attracted us to him was, when you went and saw him play, he got on the scoresheet but even if he wasn't on the scoresheet you noticed him play. He played hard. 200-foot."

Round 6, pick 162: Alexis Gravel, goaltender

— What you need to know: Gravel, 18, had a 3.38 goals against average and .890 save percentage in 39 games with Halifax Mooseheads last season, and a 2.70 GAA and .917 save percentage in eight playoff games. 

— Scouting report: Gravel is 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, which immediately stand out because it's the kind of size and big frame the Blackhawks like in their goaltenders. His strengths include his quick glove hand and rebound control.

— Player reaction: "It's amazing. It's probably the best day of my life. I just look down and there's a Chicago Blackhawks logo on the jersey. It feels amazing. It's unreal."

— Analysis from Bowman: "Alexis is a guy we think has a lot of potential. And with goalies you have to be patient with them, they take a little bit longer [to develop]. But he’s got a lot of ability, he’s got the size to be an NHL goalie, and I think that’s part of it. We’re happy that he was there and we were able to get him."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's going to have a great situation. They're going to host the Memorial Cup next year. We're expecting a peak year out of him. He's been a good goaltender. This year we saw him play some really good games. He's in a good spot. We like the opportunity for him."

Round 7, pick 193: Josiah Slavin, forward

— What you need to know: Slavin, 19, had 42 points (23 goals, 19 assists) in 60 games last season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, and two goals and one assist in seven playoff games. He is expected to return to the USHL before going to Colorado College in 2019-20. He is the younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We like the project there. We think where he is on the curve, he's gonna play another year and then go to Colorado College. We just like the whole project."