Blackhawks

Toews will play, Sharp questionable vs. Canucks

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Toews will play, Sharp questionable vs. Canucks

Updated: Monday, Jan. 30 at 9:59 p.m.

VANCOUVER The Chicago Blackhawks will need their injured stars healthy for this stretch run. Theyll get one back on Tuesday, and the other is pretty darn close.

Jonathan Toews will play and Patrick Sharp is questionable when the Blackhawks take on the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. Toews, who suffered a left-arm injury against Florida and had it re-aggravated against Nashville, said he felt great during the teams practice Monday at Rogers Arena.

Sharp, who suffered a broken wrist when he was slashed scoring his 20th goal three weeks ago, could still play Tuesday but will have to see how he feels after morning skate.

Toews didnt go to the All-Star game festivities in Ottawa over the past four days. He said he hated to miss it, but those four days off were beneficial in helping him get better quickly.

Its one of those things that never bothered me enough to complain about it to begin with. I was just trying to take a shot against Florida tweaked it, and the next game (against Nashville) it just got worse, said Toews, who left that Jan. 21 game in the second period. Its one of those things, you walk around every day you may not feel it. But you shoot pucks and the little things, it kind of pops up on you. You try to be careful. I took care of it this week and I feel a lot better.

Sharp, meanwhile, could start against Vancouver. Monday was his first practice with the Blackhawks since he suffered the injury against Detroit on Jan. 8. He said he spent the All-Star break skating on his own.

Sharp said he didnt realize anything was wrong in that game until a few minutes after he scored the goal. He tried to take a few more shifts against the Red Wings, but it was worse and worse, he said.

(Monday) was the first tine I touched a puck since the injury but there are all kinds of precautionary things you have to go through, said Sharp, who did skate on the second line with Marian Hossa and new Blackhawks center Brendan Morrison. Id like to think (I could play tomorrow). Im a little rusty but, again, well see how it feels in the morning.

For Sharp, missing the past three weeks has been aggravating. He got hurt scoring his 20th goal of the season, and probably wouldve been an All-Star selection if not for the injury. Understandably, he wants to get back as soon as he can.

Its been tough but the teams played really well, he said. We had a tough (two games) with Nashville but a lot of different guys have stepped up last seven or eight games. Toews stayed red hot and the young guys played well. Hopefully I can get back into the lineup one of these days.

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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