Blackhawks

Tkachuk: Q's my favorite coach ever

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Tkachuk: Q's my favorite coach ever

Keith Tkachuk doesnt get a chance to see coach Joel Quenneville as much as hed like, but he still remembers their days together in St. Louis.

Hes still my favorite coach ever, said Tkachuk, who was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night. He was just a great coach to play for, very down to earth.

As Tkachuk reflected on his career and the state of U.S. hockey, he also had some kind words for his former coach. Quenneville coached the Blues from 1996-2004, with Tkachuk playing there from 2000-07 and again from 2007-10. Tkachuk said it was tough to see Quenneville get fired when it happened.

He did a lot of great things in St. Louis, Tkachuk said. You ask any player whos played for him; they love playing for him. He loves to coach. Hes not over-demanding about practices but when its time to do you work you better do it.

Quenneville said Sunday night that Tkachuk was a pleasure to coach.

Walt was an amazing player, he said. Ive never been around a guy who went through a defense or holes like he did. He was a big part of our success in St. Louis.

Tkachuks allegiance is obviously still with the Blues; he retired with them in April of 2010 and he and his family still live near the city. He loves that the Blackhawks-Blues rivalry is still strong and likely to get an even bigger boost from realignment.

Youll see those two fighting it out at the end for the division title, no question about it, Tkachuk said. Theyre two great young teams and obviously theres always been that bitter taste with not just hockey but in all the sports between St. Louis and Chicago. Im looking forward to that next game they play.

Evaluating where things stand for Blackhawks as negotiating window opens for NHL free agents

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AP

Evaluating where things stand for Blackhawks as negotiating window opens for NHL free agents

VANCOUVER — For more than two months, the Blackhawks had been primarily focused on the 2019 NHL Draft because the hockey gods gifted them with the No. 3 overall pick and a chance to speed up the retooling process in a significant way. They used that selection on Kirby Dach, a 6-foot-4, 198-pound right-handed shot center who’s projected to be a future first-liner for many years to come.

But now all the attention has shifted to Sunday, when the negotiating window for NHL free agents opened up. And the Blackhawks are expected to be one of the more active teams throughout this process as they prepare for July 1.

With the NHL and NHLPA officially setting the salary cap ceiling for the 2019-20 season at $81.5 million — a $2 million increase from last season but $1.5 million less than the original projection — general managers can finally calculate their financial plans internally as they approach the legal tampering period. The Blackhawks aren’t one of those teams where they’re living and dying by how much the upper limit fluctuates, but it’s still noteworthy that they’re projected to have $16.5 million in cap space, according to Cap Friendly.

However, that does not include the potential new deals for their restricted free agents. 

Stan Bowman said after Saturday’s draft that Brendan Perlini will be re-signed. Dylan Sikura is expected to be as well, as is Gustav Forsling. John Quenneville, who was acquired for John Hayden, is also a RFA and is expected to receive a qualifying offer but it’s unclear whether he’ll factor into the Blackhawks’ plans next season. So they don’t have an unlimited supply of money to spend.

But they certainly have enough to add an impact-type player.

Over the last month, the Blackhawks have been linked to Kevin Hayes (before his rights were traded to Philadelphia and signed a seven-year, $50 million deal), New York Islanders captain Anders Lee and six-time 30-goal scorer Corey Perry, to name a few. That indicates the Blackhawks are in the market for a middle tier player, not the upper (sorry Chicago, but the Artemi Panarin homecoming always has been a pipe dream).

The other option is to continue exploring the trade market.

The Blackhawks already acquired defenseman Olli Maatta, but that was a deal executed because it didn't require subtracting a key piece of the roster. It really could come down to whether the Blackhawks want to handpick who they want via trade and give up the assets to do it or potentially overpay — both in dollar amount and term — on the open market, which could present challenges down the road when Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and even Erik Gustafsson — depending on if he fits into the budget — are due new deals.

If it's the former, the Blackhawks prefer overpaying for the right player — somebody like Perry or Joe Pavelski on a shorter-term deal despite a higher cap hit would be ideal to help bridge the gap as far as responsibilities put on the younger players. If it’s the latter, the Blackhawks will pull off a trade for a high-end player only if it makes sense for the short term and long term because the offseason is a time to enhance the roster for both.

Bowman doesn’t know exactly how the next few weeks are going to play out, but you can bet that he’ll have his phone attached to his ear looking for ways to improve the roster and help turn the Blackhawks into a consistent playoff contender again. 

“We have a good position right now,” Bowman said. “For next season, we're in a better place than most teams. After that, it's hard to say, because we don't know what the cap will be a year from now and we've got a couple players that are going to graduate to new contracts a year from now. Not a lot of free agents take one-year contracts, so that's the thing — if you're going to sign a free agent, you've got to look at what's going to be the implication two years down the road. So from that perspective, trades might be more appealing to us than necessarily adding a top free agent. We're going to have some new players for next year, but I don't know if it's going to be free agents or through trades.”

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Recapping Blackhawks draft and looking ahead to free agency

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Recapping Blackhawks draft and looking ahead to free agency

VANCOUVER — Day 2 of the NHL Draft kicked off with a bang as PK Subban was traded out of the Central Division and Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap a busy weekend in Vancouver. The guys break down how Wilmette native Alex Vlasic could be a steal in the 2nd round and Pat catches up with the newest Hawks’ defenseman prospect.

Plus - why their trade with the Devils bringing back a Quenneville to Chicago could be a good change-of-scenery for both sides and GM Stan Bowman looks ahead to the next 10 days where there could be a lot of movement with trades and in free agency.

0:30 – Morning trades shook up day 2 of NHL Draft

1:57 – John Hayden traded for John Quenneville

3:36 – Thoughts on Blackhawks drafting Alex Vlasic

5:29 – Interview with Alex Vlasic

7:48 – Vlasic’s NHL projections

9:11 – Hawks prioritize adding size in draft

10:41 – Will Bowman be active in trade market?

12:16 – Stan Bowman on the next moves for Hawks

14:26 – How Hawks will fill out roster in next 10 days

15:22 – Does Corey Perry fit with Hawks next season?

17:30 – Blackhawks interested in Christian Dvorak?

18:57 – Dach’s chances of making NHL immediately

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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