Blackhawks

Toews out Saturday vs. Red Wings

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Toews out Saturday vs. Red Wings

DETROIT It pained Jonathan Toews to say it, that much was evident: his status hasnt changed, he wont play in the regular-season finale against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, and its all been very frustrating.

Toews is still feeling some concussion-like symptoms when hes doing his on-ice workouts, so he will be out tomorrow afternoon. And while his recovery has been a slow and aggravating process, Toews hopes that these next few days go well and hell be ready for the postseason.

But as with everything involving this injury, setting a true return date is difficult.

Im still keeping confident that things will go the right way, that Ill be ready for next week, said Toews, who sounded somewhat discouraged after practice. I felt like I was very close to playing yesterday or tomorrow, but we have four days or so before the net game. Hopefully thatll be the difference right there.

Tomorrow will mark the 22nd game Toews will miss with the concussion; he hasnt played since the Feb. 19 game against St. Louis. Toews reiterated today that he likely suffered and played with the concussion during the last few games on that long February road trip.

Playing a handful of games with it definitely didnt help, but it wasnt serious enough at the time to say, I think this is what it is. I should stop playing.'"

Toews knew what it felt like to suffer a concussion, since he had a previous one in October of 2010. Toews missed six games with that one, caused by a Willie Mitchell hit that had Toews staggering off the ice. The captain figured his recovery would be much like that one. Unfortunately, it hasnt been.

I had a concussion two years ago and after two weeks, boom, I was myself again, Toews said. Thats why this is so frustrating. Its not a clear-cut thing. I expected to be back in two weeks. I thought that was going to be it. Thats what happened last time, why isnt this the same thing?

As discouraged as Toews sounded, coach Joel Quenneville sounded more optimistic. Quenneville points to the progress that Toews has made over these past few weeks, and said an extra few days preparation could help the captain.

Part of the process is, some days you feel good, some days you dont feel quite as good, he said. Emotionally you want to be out there. Knowing how competitive Johnny is, its tough watching. But he feels much improved over the last few days, and each day over the last couple of weeks. It wouldve been nice to get him into one of these games. But Game 1 in the playoffs is much more meaningful. With five more days, lets side with caution.

Hopefully for Toews, thats all it is: erring on the side of caution. As much as everyone wants him back, as much as he wants to be back, his health comes first. And until hes 100 percent on the ice, hell keep working toward it.

Its not fun to miss all these games, especially when I want to step back in and feel fresh for the playoffs, he said. But I dont have a choice.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis react to the Olli Maatta trade and how this impacts the Blackhawks' defensive group. Is this the first of more moves to come?

The guys then break down their top-three candidates for the Blackhawks at No. 3 overall and predict who the pick will be on Friday. They also discuss how the Blackhawks' selection may impact the offseason and the big picture going forward.

0:40 – Initial reaction to the Olli Maatta trade

3:45 – How Maatta fits with the Blackhawks

7:45 – Filling Dominik Kahun’s spot

10:00 – Maatta’s contract situation

11:00 – Our top-3 draft predictions

18:30 – Official predictions on who the Blackhawks will pick

24:30 – Is there a wrong pick in the top 10?

27:30 – If the Blackhawks don’t pick D, the forward is…?

29:30 – How the Blackhawks selections shape the offseason

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

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USA TODAY

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

The 2019 NHL free agent class — both restricted and unrestricted — is absolutely loaded. But perhaps the biggest fish of them all has already been taken off the board.

Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks have agreed to an eight-year extension worth $11.5 million per year, according to Cap Friendly, becoming the highest-paid defenseman in league history. It’s a significant move for the Sharks, who are looking to keep the band together and take a few more stabs at a Stanley Cup before their window starts to close — Joe Thornton is 39, Joe Pavelski turns 35 in July, Brent Burns is 34, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is 32 and Logan Couture is 30.

How the Sharks make the math work going forward will be fascinating to monitor. Thornton, if he doesn't decide to hang up the skates, is a UFA. Same with Pavelski, who is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career. Both of those players have become part of the Sharks identity, but their futures aren't guaranteed. And then there are guys like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier, both of whom are RFAs and due big raises.

So how does the Karlsson extension impact the Blackhawks and the rest of the Western Conference?

For starters, the UFA defensemen class just got thinner and that could lead to overpayment across the board from teams looking for impact-type blue-liners because general managers that are looking to make a splash don’t want to come away empty-handed. The Blackhawks were never going to be in on Karlsson, but his contract set the market for this year's class and the fact the signing came before the NHL Draft now gives teams that would've been in on Karlsson an opportunity to refocus ahead of the negotiating period.

In the bigger picture, the Sharks just solidified themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders for at least the next couple seasons. While the Karlsson contract may not look the greatest on the back half, given his durability issues, the Sharks had no choice but to offer him a blank check. When healthy, he is a game-changer and a two-time Norris Trophy winner who's still in his prime, and if the Sharks win a title in the next couple years then it was well worth it. You don't let players like him walk.

The Blackhawks are expected to be aggressive over the next several weeks, particularly in free agency but also continuing to explore the trade market. We already saw that when they acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that could only be the first of many this offseason. The West might be top heavy, but this past season proved that any team can turn it around quickly and the Blackhawks need to do everything in their power to make sure they're one of those teams.

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