Bulls

Fire bring Segares back

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Fire bring Segares back

Gonzalo Segares stay on the Fires recently-departed list didnt last long. The veteran defender signed a multi-year contract with the club on Thursday.

Segares, who completed his eighth season with the Fire in 2012, was entering the option year of his previous contract. The club declined to pick up the option this week, making Segares available in the re-entry draft, the first phase of which is Friday. His signing resulted in him being removed from the draft-eligible list, so only reserve goalkeeper Jay Nolly and reserve midfielder Corben Bone will be re-entry candidates when Major League Soccers 19 clubs make their choices.

Fridays first phase of the draft, conducted via teleconference, traditionally doesnt last long. A club must pay a selected player his current salary. That wont be the case in the second phase on Dec. 14. Two years ago the Fire acquired veteran defender Cory Gibbs through that procedure.

While no other terms of his contract were announced, Segares is assured of staying with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2005. With the exception of a brief stint in Cyprus in 2010 Segares has remained with the Fire ever since and become a mainstay at left back.

With 178 MLS regular season matches and 207 competitive appearances across all competitions under his belt, Segares became the seventh player in franchise history to pass the 200 mark in games-played this season. He also has 19 caps for Costa Ricas national team.

In statements released by the team, president of soccer operations Javier Leon said he was "pleased that Gonzalo will remain a member of the clubHe has been a tremendous asset to the Fire back line for nearly a decade and has been key to our defensive stability.

Segares said he is "very happy to continue as a Fire playerChicago is my second home and the Fire have been a big part of my life for a long time. I look forward to more success with the club in the future.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Sean Johnson became the third Fire player to join an overseas club for training purposes this week. He returned to England and began workouts with Stoke on Wednesday. Hell be with that team through Sunday, then work with Everton from Monday through Dec. 23. Johnson also trained with Everton in the Fires last offseason.

Defenders Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry finish their training periods with Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

The Fire has yet to make a trade since the 2012 season ended, but one of its Eastern Conference rivals did. Sporting Kansas City acquired veteran defender-midfielder Josh Gardner from Montreal for a second-round draft choice. Gardner had stints with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Columbus Crew before joining the expansion Impact last season.

27 Days to Opening Night: Lauri Markkanen's best rookie Game Score

27 Days to Opening Night: Lauri Markkanen's best rookie Game Score

The performance matched the venue.

Lauri Markkanen made quite the impression in his first game at Madison Square Garden, tallying 33 points (a career-best), 10 rebounds, eight 3-pointers and a pair of steals.

Markkanen made 10 of 22 from the field and went 8-for-15 from beyond the arc. He also made all five of his free throws and threw a hammer down on Enes Kanter.

It was arguably his best game of the year, and Basketball Reference’s Game Score agreed. We’ll safely assume he tops that at some time this season.

Previous Countdown to Opening Night posts:

38. Bobby Portis' career-high in points

37. Michael Jordan's career-best PPG in 1987

36. Lauri Markkanen's 3-point FG% as a rookie

35. Michael Jordan's PPG in 1988, his first MVP season

34. Wendell Carter

33. Scottie Pippen

32. Kris Dunn

31. Michael Jordan's 50-point games

30. Michael Jordan's career scoring average

29. Teams afraid of Zach LaVine putting them on a poster

28. Bulls' over-under win total in Las Vegas

Change of plans? Adam Boqvist could start season with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Change of plans? Adam Boqvist could start season with Blackhawks

That was quick. 

Hours after we wrote how Adam Boqvist has been flying under the radar this training camp because his NHL timeline could still be 2-3 years away — something even he admitted after the Blackhawks drafted him No. 8 overall in June — he put on a strong showing in his second preseason game on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings playing on the top pairing and leading the team in ice time (22:15). 

His offensive skill is evident. So is his general skating ability. What really stood out was how he defended, particularly a 1-on-1 rush against the speedy Andreas Athanasiou.

This is the play that got Blackhawks fans excited. This is a player who has the ability to speed up his timeline if he takes advantage of this next year of development, which won’t begin in London on Friday after coach Joel Quenneville told reporters following Thursday’s contest that his debut with the Knights in the OHL is being put on hold because they want a longer look at him.

In fact, Quenneville didn’t rule out the possibility of Boqvist making the Blackhawks straight out of camp.

"I think as we've gone through camp and see him play through the games, we're watching him," Quenneville said. "We've been pleased with him. It's almost like, when you come to camp, we want to watch these guys. They make those decisions for us with how they play and it's been a positive one."

But that doesn’t mean he’d necessarily stick around for the full season.

Because he’s 18 years of age, Boqvist is eligible to play in up to nine games before getting sent to his respective junior team without burning the first year of his entry-level deal. He’s a slide candidate next year as well. It’s what the Blackhawks did with Ryan Hartman, who appeared in five games in 2014-15 and three games in 2015-16 before securing a full-time spot in 2016-17. That's the likely scenario if it were to reach that point.

It's hard to imagine the Blackhawks breaking in each of their top-two defensive prospects in Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist at the same time. And for Boqvist, you certainly don't want to waste any years of his entry-level contract when he could be using that time to truly develop so he could hit the ground running when he does enter the league on a full-time basis.

Perhaps the back injury to Connor Murphy, who is expected to be out until December, allowed the Blackhawks to view Boqvist's situation in a wider lense. Or maybe this was the plan all along.

Regardless, the Blackhawks may get a glimpse of the future quicker than they thought and it’s added a little excitement to training camp and the anticipation of Opening Day.