Blackhawks

No timeline for injured Blackhawks

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No timeline for injured Blackhawks

DETROIT Niklas Hjalmarsson skated again on Saturday but will be out tomorrow when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

Jonathan Toews (concussion) is still progressing but coach Joel Quenneville said the captain will not join the Blackhawks on this road trip. Quenneville said Toews is still not skating, but were seeing progress and optimistic that hes going to be back.

Hjalmarsson (concussion) said he felt good, albeit tired, Saturday after going through the teams practice assistant coach Mike Kitchen was working with him on conditioning.

It just feels good to be on the ice, he said. Obviously not playing is not the most fun part. But they have to get your conditioning back. Kitch is very good at getting you pretty tired out there, so Ive been through a couple of good skates here the last couple of days. I feel good and well take it from there.

The Blackhawks have been hit with one of the toughest injury bugs the ones on which its so hard to put a timeline. But Quenneville said injuries are part of every season.

I think when we played concussions werent even an injury or probably werent diagnosed the same way. With history, time and more awareness to it were more familiar with how to treat them. Its something thats progressed in our game but thats part of it, he said. Youre always hit with injuries. Some teams are decimated by them but its something you go through. Were getting tested down the stretch without two key guys like Johnny and Hammer. Its a great test and we loved the response last night. It makes you a better team.

Meanwhile, Dave Bolland sported some stitches near his right eye after a run-in with Ottawas Jason Spezza on Friday night. Bolland wore a visor at Saturdays practice.

Well try that for a while and see how it goes, said Bolland of the visor. Its a little different when you have a shield in front of you. But its always safer.

Ray Emery will start against the Red Wings tomorrow.

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

One of the Blackhawks’ priorities this summer is to add pieces that will help shore up the defensive part of their game after they gave up the second-most goals in the NHL last season. And they didn’t waste much time doing it.

Less than a week before the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

Maatta is 24 years old, carries a left-handed shot and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. But he battled injuries last season and fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, where he was a healthy scratch for three games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are hoping a fresh start could help Maatta find his game again, and do it in a place that may better utilize his skill-set. Where he could help is in the defensive part. 

According to The Point, Maatta ranked 9th among defensemen in blocked shots per game (2.05), 26th in defensive zone puck battles won (2.45), 40th in blocked defense zone passes (3.77) and 47th in outlet passes (8.95). 

Maatta, who was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2012, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games last season. His best year came in 2017-18 when he tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 82 games. He has three years remaining on his deal that carries a $4.083 million cap hit.

It’s worth noting that when Maatta signing his extension with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2016, the contract included a modified no-trade clause in his final two years, according to Cap Friendly. The Blackhawks will have the option to either honor that clause or nullify it.

The Blackhawks are expected to have some heavy competition among the forwards at training camp with the signings of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin. That likely made Kahun expendable despite a rookie season in which he compiled 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

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