It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long, but the Blackhawks and Coyotes will meet at the United Center on Monday for the first time since their Nov. 25 trade when Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome were sent to Chicago and Nick Schmaltz was shipped to Arizona.
And looking back on the move, it appears to be working out just fine for both sides.
Strome has 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) in 44 games with the Blackhawks; he had 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 48 career games with the Coyotes. He's becoming the player the Coyotes thought they were getting when they took him No. 3 overall in 2015 in large part because of the comfort level he's always had with close friend Alex DeBrincat, which has allowed them to thrive in the shadow of and alongside franchise icons Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and doing it in one of the top hockey markets in the NHL.
And Perlini is unquestionably playing his best hockey of the season, potting three goals in his last four games and getting more ice time because of it.
"Perlini lately has been unbelievable," Patrick Kane said. "He's playing great. He seems to be a force every time he's on the ice. Obviously when you talk about Strome you think about how he's helped our power play. The numbers speak for itself. He's close to a point per game with us, given us more depth up the middle, really been a great fit in the locker room too, a guy that really loves hockey, still a young player, has a lot of potential too."
For Arizona, Schmaltz has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 17 games since the trade, and a shooting percentage of 17.2. He was playing top-line minutes before suffering a knee injury in January that shut him down for the remainder of the regular season, which is unfortunate because he's in a contract year. But the Coyotes are excited about where he projects in their lineup for the long term.
The Blackhawks and Coyotes should both be happy about what they got in return because it's turning out how each of them envisioned.
"It went a little smother for [Stromer]," coach Jeremy Colliton said of what Perlini and Strome have meant to the team since the acquisition. "He was able to produce right away and get a good feeling. He’s been a big part of the power play, had chemistry with [Artem] Anisimov and [Patrick] Kane for a while, they produced well for us. Now being with [DeBrincat] for a long stretch, too, they’ve scored some big goals for us and found a way to produce most nights. It’s been huge.
"With Perlini, really happy with his last stretch of games. He’s taken a step. Much more involved, giving us energy and winning races and battles. When he does that, his line has the puck more. He has skill, he has a bomb, big body, can take the puck to the net. Maybe the game in Dallas was his best game since he’s been here. Hopefully he can continue to improve."
While there's certainly some extra juice for the players playing against their former team, they want to channel it in the right way because both teams are fighting for their playoff lives right now.
"Yeah, obviously I'm excited to play them like anyone would be against your old team," Strome said. "I think at this point in the standings you want to do well individually but at the same time you want to get the two points for your team. They're fighting and so are we. It's a big game in the standings. Try not to focus on it too much and just go out, have some fun, make some plays and the rest will take care of itself."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.