Blackhawks

NHL Trade Deadline review: Around the Western Conference

NHL Trade Deadline review: Around the Western Conference

Western Conference contenders:

Minnesota Wild

GM Chuck Fletcher pushed his chips to the front of the table by acquiring Martin Hanzal and Ryan White — and also a 2017 fourth-round pick — from Arizona, and managed to give up none of their top prospects or blue liners to get it done. They sacrificed a 2017 first-round pick, a 2018 second-round pick, a 2019 conditional pick and center Grayson Downing, with the Coyotes retaining half of Hanzal's salary.

The Wild strengthened their center depth, which alleviates some pressure off Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu, and pushes Erik Haula to the fourth line. It makes them deeper, more balanced and certainly even harder to deal with.

While they paid a steep price, can you blame them? The West is as wide open as it's been the past decade, and other contenders in the West were in on Hanzal, preventing him from going to a rival. It was worth taking a shot.

Chicago Blackhawks

GM Stan Bowman worked his magic this February, electing to add depth players rather than go for the home run. He first acquired Tomas Jurco for a third-round pick in hopes of sparking his true potential, and giving coach Joel Quenneville another option on the Blackhawks' four-line rotation.

The one that really reinforced the Blackhawks as serious contenders was the reacquisition of defenseman Johnny Oduya. There's instant familiarity there after he helped anchor the top-four on the blue line during their Stanley Cup runs in 2013 and 2015.

It allows every member on defense to shift back into place, and it further strengthened their six-man group that's the deepest it's been in years.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks had been quiet up until Tuesday night, when they acquired Jannik Hansen from Vancouver in exchange for prospect Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2017 that could turn into a first if San Jose wins the Stanley Cup.

Another steep price paid, but if the Sharks win the Cup, will anyone complain? It will be worth it for a franchise seeking its first Stanley Cup.

They realize Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, both of whom are 37 years of age, are approaching the 18th hole of their NHL careers, and must take advantage before they hit free agency this offseason.

Western Conference playoff teams:

Nashville Predators

The Predators made a few tweaks leading up to the trade deadline, making a late depth move by adding winger P.A. Parenteau in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick in 2017. They also acquired center Vernon Fiddler in February from New Jersey for a fourth-rounder in 2017.

They've been trending in the right direction as of late, so making a big splash — something GM David Poile is used to doing — didn't seem necessary. And it wasn't.

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks jumped out ahead of everyone else by trading for Patrick Eaves before it got to a bidding war, in exchange for a conditional 2017 second-round pick that can become a first-rounder if he plays in at least 50 percent of the games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and they advance to the Conference Final.

He bolsters an already-deep forward group, stabilizing their four-line rotation and taking some of the load off the top-two lines, particularly Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf up the middle. 

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers made an interesting swap with Montreal, an Eastern Conference contender, acquiring forward David Desharnais for defenseman Brandon Davidson. Desharnais is a skilled center who's not afraid to stick his nose into the dirty areas. 

It was a wise decision for the Oilers not to be aggressive at the deadline, and risk mortgaging the future. They know this is a process, and there was no reason to go all-in here despite a favorable path to a long playoff run.

But it also would have sent the wrong message had they simply stood pat, so giving Connor McDavid and his group up front another forward wasn't a bad idea.

Western Conference bubble teams:

St. Louis Blues

After watching David Backes and Troy Brouwer walk for nothing last offseason, the Blues couldn't afford to see that happen with Kevin Shattenkirk. Despite being in the playoff hunt, the Blues shipped Shattenkirk — along with goaltender Pheonix Copley — to Washington in exchange for a 2017 first-round pick, a 2019 conditional second-round pick, center Zach Sanford and center Brad Malone. The Blues also retained 39 percent of Shattenkirk's salary.

Perhaps the thought would have changed if the Blues didn't enter the deadline on a four-game losing streak after previous winning six in a row. But GM Doug Armstrong didn't really have a choice other than to acquire assets for next year.

Calgary Flames

The Flames opened up the trading period by landing defenseman Michael Stone to shore up their defense. They finished by adding winger Curtis Lazar, who could slide into their top-six.

They're fighting to stay above water, and have been riding a roller coaster all year after a rough start. These moves will probably get them into the postseason, but they're going to have a tough draw in the first round no matter where they finish.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings felt they needed insurance in goal despite Jonathan Quick returning from a 59-game absence, so they went out and got Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay for Peter Budaj, who is tied for the league lead with seven shutouts, along with a prospect and draft picks. Two of the three Vezina Trophy finalists are now sharing one crease.

The question mark wasn't necessarily that they acquired another No. 1 goaltender. It was about not using their resources and cap space to address their scoring needs.

They eventually did that, by adding 39-year-old winger Jarome Iginla to play alongside Anze Kopitar on the top line. It appears to be a good fit, considering the Kings don't play a fast game, and he will certainly give the power play a little boost. But you have to wonder how much gas he has left in the tank, and whether he consistently play at a high level against the opponent's top units.

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

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AP

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

The youth movement is underway in Chicago and it's happening quicker than expected.

Adam Boqvist played in his 10th NHL game of the season on Sunday, officially triggering the first year of his entry-level contract. That means he will become a restricted free agent at end of the 2021-22 season. If he appeared in nine games or fewer, his contract wouldn't have kicked in until next season, which would've bought the Blackhawks an extra year of Boqvist playing at a cap hit of $894,167.

"Maybe that was a discussion very early on but as far as coach perspective, we like him," head coach Jeremy Colliton said on whether he and GM Stan Bowman had conversations about burning Boqvist's first year. "I think he's played well and it's an opportunity with some injuries to give him some ice time. He's handled it well so far."

Boqvist is the second rookie on the Blackhawks this season to burn their first year, joining No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach. Whether the decisions were dictated by circumstances or not, the Blackhawks have seen enough of both of them to feel they can have an impact on the team in the short term without hindering their developments in the long term.

The number to watch now is 40. Like Dach, if Boqvist appears in 40 or more games this season, it will count as a full season and bring him one year closer to unrestricted free agency. Any player that's accrued seven full seasons or is at least 27 years old as of June 30 of that respective year can become an unrestricted free agent.

Boqvist appeared in six games for the Blackhawks during the month of November before getting reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Nov. 14 when Connor Murphy was ready to return from his groin injury.

But with Calvin de Haan (shoulder) expected to be out long term and Duncan Keith still out with a groin injury, the Blackhawks called up Boqvist for insurance and because they lacked defensemen with offensive upside. It appears he will remain with the big club for the time being and it serves as a chance for their No. 8 overall pick in 2018 to prove he can handle NHL minutes on a consistent basis during a desperate time for the Blackhawks.

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Patrick Kane's hat trick propels Blackhawks over Wild

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USA TODAY

Patrick Kane's hat trick propels Blackhawks over Wild

As things seemingly spiraled out of control for the Blackhawks, who had lost four straight games - being outscored 14-6 in their past three - and going 3-8-2 in their past 13, they needed their top player to step up. Step up is exactly what Patrick Kane did Sunday night against a hot Minnesota Wild team. 

The three-time Stanley Cup champ and 2013 Conn Smythe trophy winner scored two goals early in the first period before throwing the puck into the Wild's empy net for the 5-3 final score with a little over one minute remaining in regulation.

"It was nice to get one," Kane said of snagging his sixth career regular season hat trick. "You get two early on, you think, 'Maybe I have a chance at one.' Obviously it came a little bit later in the game, but huge fourth goal for us (from Brandon Saad) and I was able to finish it off with an empty net. Obviously that's a big win for us."

Kane made a wraparound attempt at 7:42 of the first period and the Minnesota Wild's Kaapo Kahkonen seemingly denied him with his left pad. However, the United Center crowd went crazy when they saw the replay of the attempt on the jumbotron. After a video review officials determined the puck completely crossed the goal line and the Hawks were up 1-0.

Kane recorded his second goal of the game, putting the Hawks up 2-0 at 11:33 of the first, scoring from the slot off a give-and-go with Jonathan Toews on Chicago's first power play of the game. 

"Showtime" scored into the Wild's empty net at 18:57 of the third period to complete the hat trick. It was his 18th goal of the season.

"He’s such a well-rounded player," Robin Lehner said of Kane. "I think as a goalie, going in practice every day against him, he has such patience with the puck and he’s so accurate with his shot. 

"He doesn’t shoot in the conventional — just go high or try to go bar and in. He goes between the arms, between the legs, over the pads, you know it’s very hard as a goalie to get a read. 

"He waits you out and then it’s in. He had a hell of a game today. He’s one of our leaders and he stepped up and helped turn this around for us."

Kane felt he's been in a rut and knows when he's able to produce, it can give the team a lift.

"I don't think I've been playing as well the past 10 games or so," he said. "Want to start playing better for the team. If I play better it's obviously going to bring more to the group and (there's) a better chance for us to win. That's something we're all trying to do in here is take pride and ownership."

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