Blackhawks

Sweet Kane SO goal caps well-played game by Hawks

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Sweet Kane SO goal caps well-played game by Hawks

The shootout winner was much better than the special on him before the game.

Patrick Kane put on some dizzying extra moves than he let on to Peggy in the Discover commercial, leaving Niklas Backstrom helpless to make it a quick, two-round shootout win after Jonathan Toews led it off with his usual "five-hole" thing.

Ray Emery did his part with stops on Matt Cullen and Dany Heatley, who I'm guessing was trying to pull the same move Kane did a moment later, albeit with much less success. Emery deserved this one, coming up with big saves after essentially being given the first period off, when the Wild didn't manage a single shot until three minutes remained and had just one other.

In this fifth game in their last six that went to extra time (something to keep an eye on with tie-breakers at the end of the year), Patrick Sharp did have one decent opportunity in the OT, but would not hit the overtime trifecta. This was an entertaining back-and-forth between the top two teams in the West, with the Hawks breaking out to a 2-0 lead after a scoreless first.

But the Wild rallied back to even it before the second was over. The captains exchanged goals in the 3rd, first Jonathan Toews, then Mikko Koivu. Toews reached 300 points for his career by assisting on the game's first goal, on the power play by Marian Hossa. The penalty kill went 2-for-2 but faced a third PK when Koivu scored on a delayed call.

The Hawks did get some encouraging play from the 3rd and 4th lines that have been quiet offensively of late. Dave Bolland's line had some dominant shifts the first half of the game, though he, Bryan Bickell and Andrew Brunette were on the ice for two Wild goals.

Michael Frolik's goal was just is fourth point in his last 18 games. With Brunette and Marcus Kruger scoring Sunday against San Jose, those are positive signs for offensive balance. They'll try to keep it going Friday at the United Center against the Ducks on Comcast SportsNet.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Jack Hughes

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NBC Sports

2019 NHL Draft Profile: C Jack Hughes

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.

Jack Hughes

Position: Center
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from NHL.com draft expert Adam Kimelman:

The most talented player in the draft should be the first one selected. The 18-year-old has a package of skating, passing, vision and hockey sense that's reminiscent of Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane."

NHL player comparable: Connor McDavid/Patrick Kane

Fit for Blackhawks:

Listen, we know. Hughes isn't going to be on the board at No. 3. But let's dream just for one minute because when the Blackhawks jumped into the top-three on lottery night, the thought crept into everyone's minds.

Hughes is one of the most talented players to ever come out of the United States National Development Program, and is the most pro-ready out of any prospect in this year's draft. He could step onto an NHL team tomorrow and play in a top-six role seamlessly. 

Stylistically, Hughes' game is reminiscent of McDavid and Kane: A playmaker, goal scorer, smooth skater, unreal vision, high hockey IQ. He is the complete package. And just wait until he adds some muscle to his frame under the care of an NHL organization.

If the Blackhawks landed the No. 1 overall pick, their center depth for the next 7-8 years could've consisted of Hughes, Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews. Alright, now back to reality. 

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GM Stan Bowman: Blackhawks 'unlikely' to trade out of No. 3 overall spot

GM Stan Bowman: Blackhawks 'unlikely' to trade out of No. 3 overall spot

The 2019 NHL Draft is 48 hours away from now and the Blackhawks are slated to pick third overall for the first time since 2006 when they took Jonathan Toews. Coincidentally, that draft happened to be in Vancouver. 

The Blackhawks are sitting in a unique spot this time around.

The consensus is that Jack Hughes and Kappo Kakko will go first and second overall, respectively, which essentially puts the Blackhawks in a position where they have the first overall pick in a different draft. There's a large group of players to choose from and there doesn't appear to be much separation amongst them.

So would the Blackhawks consider trading out of the No. 3 spot if a team wants to make the jump and the Blackhawks feel good about their player being on the board a few picks back?

"That’s a tough question to answer because it's not like we have a magic formula that we’re waiting for some to call and offer us," GM Stan Bowman said on Wednesday during his pre-draft conference call. "If somebody made a really appealing offer then we’d have to consider it, but that hasn’t happened yet. If it does, then as a group we’ll talk about it. That’s one of those things where a team has to want to put together a really appealing package to move up. It’s happened before, pretty rare though. So I wouldn't say it's out of the realm, but it’s unlikely to happen."

All signs point to the Blackhawks keeping their pick at No. 3, as expected. And it sounds like they already know who it's going to be, which isn't surprising considering the Blackhawks have done extensive research on the prospects — both on and off the ice — for months now.

The Blackhawks staff met on Wednesday a group, they'll meet again on Thursday, and then one more time on Friday before the draft to finalize their list. At this point, it's more about ironing out the later rounds.

"It’s more just fine-tuning the list," Bowman said. "We have more than just one pick in the draft. We’re looking at players we think are going to be around in the second round, and then we don’t have a third-round pick right now so there’s a bit of a gap there between our 43rd and then the two picks in the fourth round. So we have to look at that and determine which players we’re going to target for those rounds. I wouldn’t say there’s anything new that's being discovered at this time of year.

"We’re not going to be cramming last minute. I think we’re going to be very comfortable with the guy we pick when we get to Friday night."

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