Artem Anisimov

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

The Blackhawks are spending the next week focusing on their prospects at development camp, but GM Stan Bowman took care of some housekeeping items on the big club on Tuesday when he traded forward Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Zack Smith.

Anisimov had two years left on his contract that carries a $4.55 million cap hit, but his modified no-trade clause was removed on July 1, which opened up more trade possibilities. He was also owed a $2 million signing bonus when the new calendar year opened and his actual salary over the next two years dropped to $5 million total, giving a rebuilding team like the Senators a chance to add a depth forward for a lower price.

Couple that with the fact Anisimov's role with the Blackhawks has diminished over the years and you can see why this traded was made from Chicago's point of view.

"First off, Arty was a great Blackhawk," Bowman said on Tuesday. "We wish him well. I think stylistically they play different games. Both veterans, both have played in the league for a long time. I think Zack brings a different skill set to the table, something that we probably need a little bit more of. He certainly plays with a competitive side to him, plays with an edge. He's had some years in the past where he's scored a lot but I think the thing we like about his game is the versatility and you notice him. He's tough to play against out there."

Smith compiled 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 70 games for the Senators last season, and served as the alternate captain during the 2017-18 campaign. He's known to be a power forward, can play a heavy game and has experience playing center or wing. He's also expected to play a role on the penalty kill, an area the Blackhawks have been looking to address all summer long.

"It would definitely be one of the [areas] I consider my stronger points of the game," Smith said on a conference call. "I take a lot of pride in it. I enjoy it, playing against top lines and killing penalties. I think I've improved on that, especially over the last couple years. Talking to Stan and Jeremy [Colliton] this morning, they said the same thing, we want to be more responsible defensively and that's why we brought you in. I'm more than happy to accept that role and help them in any way possible."

The 31-year-old Smith has two years left on his contract that carries a cap hit of $3.25 million. With the trade, the Blackhawks opened up $1.3 million in cap space, which gives them some financial breathing room to make transactions throughout the season and potentially re-sign Brendan Perlini, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent.

"I think that was part of the deal as well," Bowman said." A benefit. We do save a little bit on the cap. We still have a little bit of work to do there, but we're looking better now than we were yesterday."

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Blackhawks mailbag: Trade assets and free agent speculation

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks mailbag: Trade assets and free agent speculation

Every Friday this offseason, Charlie Roumeliotis will look to answer your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition.

Are there any pending free agents in particular that the Blackhawks have their eyes on? Obviously people will say Panarin, but that's pretty unrealistic. I was just wondering if there are any realistic options that the 'Hawks seem to have their sights set on.

It's been reported that the Blackhawks have been doing their due diligence center Kevin Hayes, giving us a good indicator of which kind of players they're targeting — the middle tier, not the upper. 

Hayes was a first-round draft pick in 2012 by the Blackhawks but did not sign a contract with the team. He went to free agency and inked an entry-level contract with the New York Rangers.

Where he would fit in is the interesting question, especially if the Blackhawks draft a center at No. 3 overall. There are only four spots available, so it would require moving things around.

To what degree do you think the Hawks' third overall selection will influence who we target in free agency? i.e. If we draft Turcotte, we won't pursue someone like Kevin Hayes.

We touched on this in last week’s mailbag, but should clarify or expand a little bit: Who the Blackhawks select at No. 3 will not and should not directly affect who they target in free agency. But there could be some ripple effects. 

The example used was that if the Blackhawks draft one of the top available centers, they will be adding that player to a group that already includes Artem Anisimov, David Kampf, Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews. And if Hayes is a potential target, as mentioned above, then there needs to be some maneuvering — i.e. a trade or a center moves to wing. 

It’s a good problem to have when you have an overload at the center position, but it's still somewhat of a problem because you can't keep everyone happy. 

If the Blackhawks don't make the playoffs next year and end up in the same draft spot this year (12th), do you think Stan Bowman will trade the pick for immediate help?

https://twitter.com/Vis23089/status/1133797644231499785

If the Blackhawks don't make the playoffs next year, a strong argument could be made that Bowman may not be the one making that pick. The organization can't go three straight years without making the playoffs and five years without winning a playoff round. Progress needs to be made next season in the form of a postseason berth.

But to your actual question: The reality is, it’s easier said than done to trade a first-round pick for an immediate impact-type player. It just doesn’t happen frequently if you look at the history. The Blackhawks would only explore that option if they feel they’re filling a hole both in the short term and long term. They’re committed to their vision of building a contender for years to come, not just the next one or two.

Who do you think is the biggest trade asset this summer?

Duncan Keith and Brandon Saad are probably the two players that could fetch the biggest return, but Keith has a full no-movement clause and isn't going anywhere unless he wants out. And the only way Saad is moved is if the Blackhawks are filling other holes on their NHL roster by doing so. Draft picks and prospects won't cut it at this stage of the "reload," and a team that would be interested in Saad's services likely won't be interested in subtracting from their roster either because it means they're looking to make a playoff run.

The one player that is worth monitoring this summer is Artem Anisimov. He has two years left on his contract that carries a cap hit of $4.55 million. He’s still a useful player, but maybe not at the price anymore.

There are two things that could make him expendable: 

1) Anisimov's no-trade clause will be lifted on July 1, giving the Blackhawks full control on where he could potentially be moved to.

2) More importantly: the Blackhawks owe Anisimov a $2 million signing bonus on July 1. After they pay that, his actual salary owed over the next two years is only $5 million total. That could be a relatively attractive piece for a smaller market team looking to add some center depth but not pay the full price for one.

Do you think the Hawks will have the depth/consistency next season to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference?

Hi Jeremy Colliton's burner,

We will obviously have a better idea by July 2 after we see what the Blackhawks do at the NHL Draft and how Day 1 of free agency unfolds, but they will have every opportunity to fill out their depth this summer, particularly up front.

The consistency part is unknown. It doesn’t matter how the roster looks on paper. Next season will be about execution. Fortunately for the Blackhawks, they will be going into training camp knowing exactly what to expect from Colliton and will have several weeks of practice to hit the ground running come October.

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How all 13 Blackhawks performed at 2019 IIHF World Championship

How all 13 Blackhawks performed at 2019 IIHF World Championship

The Blackhawks had 13 players represent the organization at the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. Here's how each of them performed, sorted by country:

Canada (Final ranking: Silver medal)

— Dylan Strome ... In his first career IIHF World Championship, Strome had five points (one goal, four assists) in 10 games. He also had a plus-1 rating, 12 shots on goal and averaged 11:59 of ice time. Strome ranked fifth among all centers with a faceoff win percentage of 63.3.

Czech Republic (Final ranking: 4th)

— Dominik Kubalik ... Kubalik, whose rights were acquired by the Blackhawks from Los Angeles in January, finished eighth among all skaters in scoring with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 10 games and his plus-10 rating was tied for fourth overall. He also recorded 28 shots on goal and averaged 13:55 of ice time.

Denmark (Final ranking: 11th)

— Mathias From ... From, who was drafted in the fifth round (No. 143rd overall) in 2016, was pointless in four games. He was a minus-1 rating, had one shot on goal and averaged 5:02 of ice time.

Finland (Final ranking: Gold medal)

— Henri Jokiharju ... Jokiharju compiled three points — all assists — in 10 games. He also had a plus-1 rating, 13 shots on goal and averaged 11:44 of ice time. He and Kaapo Kakko became the seventh and eighth players in IIHF history to win gold at the Under-18s, World Junior and World Championship in their career. They also became the first players since Jonathan Toews (2007) to win the World Junior and World Championship in the same year.

— Kevin Lankinen ... Lankinen was the breakout star of the tournament. The 24-year-old ranked first in goals against average (1.50), second in save percentage (.942) and tied for first in shutouts (2). He was named player of the game in the semifinal contest against Russia with a 32-save shutout then stopped 43 of 44 shots for a save percentage of .978 in the gold medal game against Canada.

Germany (Final ranking: 6th)

— Dominik Kahun ... Kahun was one of Germany's most productive players. He racked up five points (one goal, four assists), ranked second on the team in shots on goal (16) and averaged 19:18 of ice time. He finished with a minus-1 rating in eight games.

Norway (Final ranking: 12th)

— Andreas Martinsen ... Martinsen, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, was tied for the scoring lead on Norway with six points — all assists — in seven games. He had a minus-1 rating, 11 shots on goal and averaged 15:28 of ice time. Coaches voted him one of the three best players on Norway at the end of the tournament.

Russia (Final ranking: Bronze medal)

— Artem Anisimov ... Anisimov recorded six points (four goals, two assists) in 10 games, and tallied one game-winning goal. He also registered 14 shots on goal and averaged 14:25 of ice time. His plus-11 rating was tied for third among all skaters.

Sweden (Final ranking: 5th)

— Erik Gustafsson ... He had four points (two goals, two assists) and a plus-5 rating in eight games. His 25 shots on goal ranked first on Team Sweden and 18:29 average time on ice ranked sixth.

— Marcus Kruger ... Kruger, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, scored two goals — one of which was a game-winner — and added an assist in eight games. He was one of four players on the team that had a negative rating (minus-3). Kruger averaged 10:37 of ice time and ranked 15th among center with a faceoff win percentage of 59.2.

Switzerland (Final ranking: 8th)

— Philipp Kurashev ... Kurashev, who was taken in the fourth round (No. 120 overall) in 2018, accumulated four points (one goal, three assists) in eight games. His plus-4 rating also ranked tied for third on the team. Kurashev registered eight shots on goal and averaged 11:02 of ice time.

United States (Final ranking: 7th)

— Alex DeBrincat ... DeBrincat picked up right where he left off with the Blackhawks. He finished second among all skaters in goals (7) despite playing in eight games, and compiled nine points. Two of his goals were game-winners and three of them came on the power play. His shooting percentage was 43.8.

DeBrincat now has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 18 career tournament games. 

— Patrick Kane ... After being named tournament MVP in 2018, Kane also didn't skip a beat. He averaged 1.50 points per game with two goals and 10 assists in eight contests, and led his country in shots on goal (28) and forwards in ice time (22:26 per game).

The three-time Stanley Cup champion surpassed U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Johnson for most points (33) in World Championship history. Kane pulled away even further by the end of the tournament, totaling 42 points in 25 career IIHF World Championship games.

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