Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Trade deadline edition

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NHL Power Rankings: Trade deadline edition

The Blackhawks made the biggest splash on trade deadline week by landing Tomas Fleischmann, Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise and Christian Ehrhoff, which forced other teams in the Western Conference to respond.

The Kings strengthened their forward group by adding Kris Versteeg, and brought back a familiar face on the blue line in Rob Scuderi. The Ducks traded for Jamie McGinn and Brandon Pirri while the Stars acquired Kris Russell in an effort to short up a leaky defense.

Meanwhile in the East, the first-place Capitals added insurance up front and in back with the acquisitions of Daniel Winnik and Mike Weber. The Rangers acquired Erik Staal in a blockbuster to compete with them, while the Panthers traded for Jiri Hudler, Teddy Purcell and Jakub Kindl for the postseason run. 

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 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

45-12-4, 94 points: The Capitals added forward Daniel Winnik and defenseman Mike Weber to bolster their depth at both positions for a potential lengthy postseason run.

2   2 34-19-8, 76 points: The Ducks have been on a second-half tear, and adding Jamie McGinn (gritty forward) and Brandon Pirri (goal-scorer) provides the depth that every Stanley Cup contending team needs. They also shipped Patrick Maroon to Edmonton for a prospect and fourth-round draft pick in 2016.
3
 
3

39-20-5, 83 points: Stan Bowman circumvented the salary cap once again to fit forwards Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise, Tomas Fleischmann and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on the roster. The Blackhawks look poised to win their fourth Stanley Cup in seven seasons.

4 4

37-21-4, 78 points: The Kings, who are by far the best puck possession team in the NHL, strengthened their already-deep forward group with the addition of Kris Versteeg and brought back Rob Scuderi, who was part of their 2014 Stanley Cup-winning team.

5   8

36-22-4, 76 points: The trade deadline is over, and Jonathan Drouin, who requested a trade, is still a member of the Lightning, which means they'll look to maximize his value in the offseason. Although suspended, GM Steve Yzerman said of Drouin this season: "If he wants to come back, the door is open."

6   10 36-20-9, 81 points: The Rangers went 9-2-1 in February, and are looking like the Stanley Cup-contending team that everyone thought they'd be. The Rangers acquired Erik Staal to bolster their top-six, and didn't give up a first-round pick. Solid deal.
7    4 36-20-9, 81 points: It's been a challenging year for the Blues, who have been decimated with injuries from the get go. GM Doug Armstrong was handcuffed at the deadline, and made a minor trade by acquiring goaltender Anders Nilsson from Edmonton with Brian Elliott on injured reserve.
8    6 31-21-8, 70 points: The Penguins took a chance on Justin Schultz by sacrificing a third-round pick for him, and it has the potential to serve as a short-term and long-term solution if the 25-year-old defenseman benefits from a change of scenery, style and secondary role.
9   8

35-19-8, 78 points: The Panthers weren't willing to part ways with a first-round pick and mortgage their future for a big-name rental player, but adding Jiri Hudler, Teddy Purcell and Jakub Kindl certainly isn't a bad consolation.

10   11 33-20-7, 73 points: The Islanders went the conservative route this year, adding forward Shane Price from Ottawa for a third-round pick. They also, not surprisingly, didn't move Travis Hamonic, who requested a trade at the beginning of he season due to family-related reasons.
11   12 31-20-11, 73 points: The Red Wings made no moves on Monday, but did shed some salary by trading Jakub Kindl to Florida for a sixth-round pick in 2017. Detroit retained 15 percent of his $2.4 million cap hit over this season and next.
12   16 31-21-11, 73 points: In the past, adding too much at the trade deadline has come back to haunt the Predators. This year, they decided to stay quiet, adding a depth defenseman in Corey Potter from Arizona. The Ryan Johansen-Seth Jones swap was good enough.
13 9

38-19-6, 82 points: The Stars shored up a leaky defense by acquiring Kris Russell from Calgary, but they vastly overpaid for him by dealing Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round pick that could turn into a first if they reach the Conference Final. A Stanley Cup victory this year or a long-term extension would justify it.

14   14 33-22-6, 72 points: The Sharks jumped out before everyone else by acquiring Roman Polak and Nick Spaling a week before the trade deadline, reiterating that they'll take another stab at a lengthy playoff run. The acquisition of James Reimer is crucial, serving as a sturdy backup to Martin Jones.
15   13

34-23-6, 74 points: At the buzzer, the Bruins landed Lee Stempniak and John Michael-Liles to provide quality depth both at forward and defense. GM Don Sweeney elected to hang on to Loui Eriksson, and remains confident that the two sides can agree on a contract extension at season's end.

16   17

28-25-10, 65 points: The Wild were quiet on trade deadline day, but made an effective move by getting rid of Nicklas Backstrom's contract in exchange for winger David Jones from Calgary. No doubt they would have liked to acquired a No. 1 or 2 center, but not a rental one.

17 18  32-28-4, 68 points: The Central Division loaded up, and the Avalanche needed to respond with a move of their own. They did that by landing Eric Gelinas and Mikkel Boedker, who will play on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.
18   23

30-27-5, 65 points: The Canadiens officially became sellers when they dealt Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise to Chicago for Phillip Danault, who GM Marc Bergevin helped vouch for during his time with the Blackhawks, and a second-round pick in 2018.

19   20

28-22-11, 67 points: The Flyers are another team that made no moves on Monday, with their eyes set on the future. They traded Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn in January for a third-round pick in 2016 and Jordan Weal.

20   15

28-26-10, 66 points: With the playoffs slipping further out of reach, Carolina wisely became sellers by trading Erik Staal and Kris Versteeg and stockpiling assets for the future, which was highlighted by prospect Aleksi Saarela and a pair of second-round picks in 2016 and 2017.

21 22 

30-27-6, 66 points: The biggest move by the Senators came on Feb. 9 when they landed Dion Phaneuf in a blockbuster deal from Toronto, but with their position in the standings and Kyle Turris expected to miss the remainder of the season with a high ankle sprain, they added a third-round pick in 2016 for Shane Price.

22   19 30-26-7, 67 points: Despite the temptation of wanting to aim for a playoff spot, the Devils wisely looked at the big picture and dealt Eric Gelinas to Colorado for a third-round pick in 2017 and Lee Stempniak to Boston for a fourth-rounder in 2016 and a second-rounder in 2017.
23   21 27-29-6, 60 points: The Coyotes, indeed, traded Mikkel Boedker to Colorado for veteran Alex Tanguay, and prospects Conner Bleackley and Kyle Wood, both of whom may be able to bring something to the table in the short-term and long-term.
24   27

26-29-8, 60 points: The Blue Jackets didn't make any moves on deadline day, but did sign Boone Jenner to a two-year contract extension. Scott Hartnell, a rumored target, was reportedly not asked to move his no-trade clause.

25 24

25-31-7, 57 points: The Sabres did what they should have, shipping out Mike Weber (for a third-round pick in 2017) and Jamie McGinn (a conditional third-round pick in 2016 that could turn into a second-rounder if the Ducks win two playoff rounds) away for draft picks that will benefit them in their development.

26   25

24-25-12, 60 points: A strange decision by GM Jim Benning, who admitted that the Canucks are rebuilding, to hang on to Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, both unrestricted free agents, rather than compile some draft picks and/or prospects. Something's not adding up.

27   26

26-31-4, 56 points: The Flames had a sensational trade deadline week, fetching two second-round picks (one is a conditional, which could turn into a first) in 2016, a fourth-round pick in 2018, Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock and top-tier prospect Hunter Shinkaruk for Jiri Hudler, Kris Russell, and Markus Granland.

28 28

26-31-4, 56 points: The Jets made the right decision in trading Andrew Ladd, and cashed in by acquiring a first-round pick, top-tier prospect Marko Dano, and a conditional third-rounder that could become a second if Chicago wins the Stanley Cup. On top of that, it took away a nice package from a division rival.

29   29

23-34-7, 53 points: The 2016 offseason will be a fun one to watch, simply because the Oilers are expected to make a blockbuster deal in hopes of adding a true No. 1 defenseman. Edmonton made a late trade on Monday for Patrick Maroon, a cheap but effective winger.

30   30

21-29-10, 52 points: The Maple Leafs absolutely loaded up on draft picks: 12 in 2016 (two each in the first four rounds), eight in 2017 (three second-rounders) and eight in 2018 (three picks in the first two rounds). They did, however, miss an opportunity to rack up more by keeping unrestricted free agents Michael Grabner and P.A. Paranteau.

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

Alex Nylander on healthy scratch, feedback from Jeremy Colliton and role with Blackhawks

Alex Nylander on healthy scratch, feedback from Jeremy Colliton and role with Blackhawks

Alex Nylander's first couple weeks of the 2019-20 season have been interesting. He started on the top line and scored a goal in the season opener but by the third game found himself on the outside looking in.

Nylander sat out for one game before drawing back into the lineup on Monday, where he was placed on the fourth line with Ryan Carpenter and Zack Smith. He logged a team-low 8:20 of ice time, but scored the second goal of the game that turned out to be the game-winner.

While he was disappointed about being a healthy scratch against Winnipeg on Saturday, Nylander took the positives out of observing the action from afar and taking a step back to collect himself.

"Of course you always want to be in the lineup but that could've been good for me to watch the game and learn from that game and take what I learned from that game into my game," Nylander said. "It was obviously something you don't want to do, you want to be in the lineup as much as possible and obviously stay there. I played a good game last game so I'm just going to build off that and keep doing what I've done all training camp, be confident and make my plays."

Nylander and head coach Jeremy Colliton sat down on Wednesday and watched every shift the 21-year-old took in Monday's 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. And the review was positive.

"I thought he was very good," Colliton said. "Eleven shifts, he was probably good for five, great for five and he had one tough one. He helped us win. He was a big part of our win the other night. It can be a little easier for him when he's playing less to really focus on the quality when he's out there. It may not be a bad thing for him as he grows into an everyday NHLer."

Nylander said he appreciated having that kind of line of communication with his head coach. He was drafted No. 8 overall in 2016 but hasn't been able to break through at the NHL level, so he's been open to any kind of constructive criticism.

"It's been really great," Nylander said. "Obviously I want to have a positive mindset every day here and get better. Getting feedback from my linemates as well as the coaches has been really good, just taking everything in and applying it to my game."  

The Blackhawks are trying to being patient with Nylander, but they're also trying to find a balance between giving him a long leash and holding him accountable. That goes with any young player.

"It's a combination of giving a guy enough room to make some mistakes and that's how he's going to grow but it's also accountability," Colliton said. "Sometimes you got to get a guy's attention. But he's responded great. Got no issues with his work ethic. He came out of the lineup for one game and I think he did everything right after that. Just how he approached practice, how he approached the media, being asked about it and how he approached his chance when he came back to make a difference for us."  

For now, Nylander will remain on the fourth line because the four-line rotation worked so well in their previous game. But it's clear he wants to have a large role on the team. He's just got to earn it on a consistent basis.

"Just focus on every shift I get here and obviously want to be good every shift and show that I want to be back on the top line or get more ice time," Nylander said. "But I've just got to play good here, work hard every shift and take advantage of who's out there and use my skill out there and just try to make plays and be good defensively as well."

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How Blackhawks physicality is adding new dimension to style of play

How Blackhawks physicality is adding new dimension to style of play

The Blackhawks turned in their best 60-minute effort of the young season in Monday’s 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. They controlled the pace of play, got terrific goaltending from Corey Crawford and tightened up defensively.

But they also showed that they added a new layer to their team game this season.

The Blackhawks registered 36 hits against the Oilers, one of which was thunderously delivered by Andrew Shaw, sparking a scrum. Brent Seabrook led the team with six hits, Calvin de Haan had five and Drake Caggiula and Olli Maatta each had four. Heck, even Alex DeBrincat (three) and Patrick Kane (one) got in on the action.

It’s an element of their game that’s been missing the last few seasons and something they feel is important to their overall team success because it keeps other teams honest.

"I don't know if it's because of the personnel we have or the way we want to be strong and competitive and win battles, but obviously the other night we had a lot of finished hits and a lot of physicality that brings up the morale on the bench, which is a good thing," Kane said. "You look at Shawzy's hit, the stuff he's been doing early in the season — whether it's scoring big goals or sticking up for guys after they get hit — it's been awesome for the team. That's something that can really help us. We also need to play a little bit more with the puck, but it's a way we can get the puck back."

The Blackhawks don’t necessarily want to lead the NHL in the hits category, but they do want to establish an identity centered around being a difficult team to play against and adding that dimension is part of it. So is team unity.

"I don't think it's going to be our go-to in the way we're going to beat teams," Jonathan Toews said. "There's no doubt we've got guys that can mix it in. We saw last game with Shawzy and Murph, and [Ryan Carpenter] and [Zack Smith] and go down the list of guys. Even [Caggiula] and [DeBrincat] were throwing the weight around a couple days ago. It's definitely part of our game — we can play with energy and I think it's going to be there when we're ready to go. But our game is puck possession and keeping teams in their end and outplaying them in that sense.”

Through four games this season, the Blackhawks are averaging 33.0 hits per game. The previous two seasons they averaged 16.5 and 16.8, respectively, which ranked 30th.

While it's still early, there's clearly an uptick in the physicality department and it's exactly what the organization was hoping for after bringing in players like Shaw and Smith to add some bite to the roster. The Blackhawks are focused on becoming a team that can win in several different ways and play any kind of style.

"There’s a difference between running around just trying to get a tick on the stat sheet," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "But we definitely want to be physical when we have the chance and force the opposition to make plays before they're ready, and we can create turnovers and transition and offense and get out of D zone. We have some guys who like to play that way and I think it helps our team." 

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