Blackhawks

Toews to miss ninth straight game, no timetable for return

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Toews to miss ninth straight game, no timetable for return

Jonathan Toews was feeling good after his second straight day on the ice. But the captain, whos recovering from a concussion, knows the competitor in him will just have to wait until hes properly healed.

Toews skated with his Blackhawks teammates on Friday morning, but he said he has no timetable for when he may return. The captain will miss his ninth consecutive game and said hes just concentrating on getting 100 percent again.

I feel pretty good, Toews said. I feel like Ive been off the ice doing nothing for three weeks, but considering the last two days on the ice Im lot better than I thought I would be. Im pretty positive about that.

Coach Joel Quenneville was also encouraged by Toews back-to-back skates but said theres still no definitive timeline.

We said once you get him on the ice it would be a better indication when he could be close to getting back. But its significant progress in a short amount of time, Quenneville said. Lets hope were on the same program for a little while here.

Toews said he couldnt pinpoint what hit or moment specifically triggered his concussion; his last game, Feb. 19 against St. Louis, he played in its entirety. He said he was feeling off the last few games of the teams nine-game road trip but it was one of those things that was so minor at first that it took some time to realize it was something more serious.

When it comes down to that, you hate to admit it to yourself, he said. You see so many guys around the league dealing with it and you dont want to be one of those guys. I had to rest and get better.

To make matters worse Toews had a one-car accident on Feb. 23 downtown. Asked if that exacerbated his concussion, Toews said, not at all.

A lot of people want to tie that in there with this injury but when it rains it pours. I had a rough week and throw that in there with it, he said. Its one of those embarrassing things I didnt want to get out of my car for a long time.

Toews said hell take as long as he needs to reach 100 percent again. Hell see how he feels with everything, from when he gets up in the morning to how he reacts to workouts and skating. And hell have to pass the tests, too.

Concussions have become a big NHL concern in recent years. The Blackhawks have had their share of it lately from Toews to Niklas Hjalmarsson to Steve Montador. And everyone reacts different: Hjalmarsson returns tonight against the New York Rangers; Montador skated some last week but is not this week, and may have taken a step back in his recovery.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has struggled for more than a year to come back from his. Toews said hes texted with Crosby the two have the same agent but doesnt put himself in the same category right now.

Were not at that point where Im worried Im not going to make a recovery in the next little while, Toews said. It hasnt crossed my mind to start thinking about the next step and what we might have to do to make sure it heals properly.

Toews competitive side has struggled through this down time. But the thought of coming back too soon keeps him focused.

I think youd still be serious about it if it was the first time for any player. But since its not for myself, the level of urgency goes up a little bit, he said. It takes a lot of discipline to do that right now since its exciting to be back on the ice and you want to start playing right away. Ill make sure Im 100 percent when I come back and Im reducing the risk of it ever happening again.

2019 NHL free agent focus: Five potential targets for Blackhawks

2019 NHL free agent focus: Five potential targets for Blackhawks

Stan Bowman has had a busy last couple weeks. He pulled off a pair of trades, landing defensemen Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan from the Eastern Conference. He drafted center Kirby Dach with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft that could turn into a franchise-changing player. And now he’s in the middle of negotiations with pending restricted and unrestricted free agents.

With the defensemen group starting to take shape, it appears free agency will be used to fill out the forward group. That could come via trades, also, but it really depends on the market.

So let’s identify five potential UFA targets for the Blackhawks ahead of Monday, when players are officially able to sign contracts:

1. Ryan Dzingel, LW

When Dzingel was with the Ottawa Senators, he was playing top-six minutes and earning power-play time because the Senators weren’t very deep. After getting traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the deadline, he struggled to be a fit there, didn't play much on the power play and was healthy scratched for one game in the playoffs.

But he still has value, although it may not be in an area that the Blackhawks need (penalty kill).

Dzingel, a Wheaton native, set a career high in goals (26), assists (30) and points (56) in 78 games this past season with the Senators and Blue Jackets. He can play in the top-six but might be more effective as a middle-six winger on a good team.

According to Evolving Wild, Dzingel is projected to earn a contract of four years with a $4.25 million cap hit. 

2. Anders Lee, LW

It’s a little surprising that the New York Islanders and their captain haven’t made any progress on a long-term extension. At the same time, it’s pretty clear that Lou Lamoriello is looking to make a big splash this summer in his pursuit of Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin, and needs financial flexibility to negotiate.

Lee is a perfect complementary top-six left winger who would look great next to Jonathan Toews or opposite Patrick Kane. He’s got size at 6-foot-3, 231 pounds, is reliable, scored 40 goals in 2017-18 and has a strong work ethic. Those qualities check a lot of boxes the Blackhawks are looking for.

Where it gets tricky is what his contract may look like. He's projected to receive in the range of a seven-year deal that carries a $6.5 million cap hit. The dollar amount is doable, but the term could scare the Blackhawks away as they prepare to sign Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome to long-term extensions next summer.

3. Gustav Nyquist, LW

The Blackhawks have been interested in Nyquist's services in the past, so they'll certainly look into him as a possibility now that he hits the open market.

Nyquist has scored at least 20 goals in four of his past six seasons, with 28 being his career high. But he's not known to be a goal scorer. He's a pass-first, playmaking-type winger and makes players around him better because of it. Nyquist is a consistent 45-55-point player.

His next contract is projected to be in the six-year, $5.6 million range, which — like Lee — is a fair dollar amount but the term may not be something the Blackhawks are crazy about. Bowman appears to be focused on free-agent forwards who can be signed on shorter-term deals.

4. Joe Pavelski, C/RW

Perhaps the most intriguing player on the free-agent market for the Blackhawks is Pavelski, who’s served as the San Jose Sharks captain but may not fit into their plans going forward because of their cap crunch.

Yes, he will turn 35 in July. And yes, he has a ton of mileage on his body. But he’s showing no signs of slowing down. 

Pavelski is a five-time 30-goal scorer who’s coming off a 38-goal season, can play both center and wing, and is an absolute gamer, a leader on and off the ice who shows up when the lights are shining brightest. He’s also not afraid to go to the dirty areas and is widely considered to be one of the best at deflecting pucks, which comes in handy on the power play.

What makes him an attractive piece is that Pavelski could be a player that makes an immediate impact but wouldn't require a long-term deal. He's projected to earn a three-year contract with a cap hit of $7.4 million. If the Blackhawks can get him at two years, that would be ideal. But like Patrick Marleau a few years ago in Toronto, his camp is probably looking for that third year.

5. Corey Perry, LW

Days after he was bought out by the Ducks, Perry’s name surfaced as a possibility for the Blackhawks. And it makes sense because the Blackhawks aren't looking to hand out long-term contracts.

Perry is 34 years old, a former Hart Trophy winner and 50-goal scorer, and is still a productive player when healthy. But that's the biggest concern. He missed 51 games this season with a knee injury, returned ahead of schedule and never looked the same on the ice.

Per the CBA, Perry can sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal and it appears that's what he'll do. A one-year contract in the $2-3 million with bonuses would be a low risk, high reward move for the Blackhawks.

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: What will be Stan Bowman's next move?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What will be Stan Bowman's next move?

Gabe Ramirez, Vinnie Duber, and Jay Cohen join Kap on the panel to discuss game two of Cubs vs. Braves and the battle of the Soxes.

Plus with the start of free agency coming up, what will be Stan Bowman's next move?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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