We’re into the post-Christmas grind, kids. This week we’re alternating days with Canada’s team at the World Juniors and the Blackhawks on the NHL ice. Unfortunately, those two teams haven’t won a game yet this week. We’ll see if Canada can bounce back tonight against Germany.
- First off, once again, congrats to the Davidson family! The Blackhawks’ general manager and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world on Tuesday afternoon.
- Last night I awarded the No. 2 star of the night to the Andreas Athanasiou – Jason Dickinson – Sam Lafferty line. Not only did they put 8 of the team’s 24 shots on net, but they were also credited with 9 of the team’s 30 hits in the game as well. In October, when the Blackhawks were surprising people, the third line (then Philipp Kurashev with Dickinson and Lafferty) was terrific. It looks like Athanasiou and Kurashev have swapped roles for now. If this line and continue working hard, it will pay dividends for them and the two lines above them on the depth chart.
- The Canes are a team that has been tied to Patrick Kane in trade rumors at times since the summer, and it makes sense. They’re a great team that doesn’t have a great individual offensive weapon. Kane would provide that. So how was his showcase in Carolina last night? One shot on net and minus-two in 18:30.
- Last night was the sixth shutout loss of the year already for the Blackhawks, two of which have come by identical 3-0 scores at the hands of the Canes. That’s a tough number, folks.
- Speaking of Kane, it is trade rumor season after all. The Athletic ran an updated piece with post-Christmas predictions from their staff. The final segment of the piece revolved around where Kane will be playing at the end of the regular season. Their vote: the New York Rangers.
- The ties to the Rangers are too overwhelming to ignore. They play at Madison Square Garden; why wouldn’t showtime want to play there? They’re an Original Six franchise like the Blackhawks; there’s history to be made. They have his buddy Artemi Panarin on the roster. And, as Sean Gentile points out in the comments, they’ll have around $7M in cap space at the deadline and haven’t used LTIR yet. So there’s a path to a deal with the Rangers and the fit is there. IF Kane wants to leave, of course.
- One thing everybody seems to forget when talking about the Rangers-Kane fit is maybe the most significant. Since Davidson became GM, he has shown us that he wants picks over prospects when making a trade. He’s focused on picks in every trade he’s made. Yeah, he brought back two players in the Brandon Hagel trade, but the cost savings in doing so brought two first-round picks with them. The Rangers are one of three teams — with the Blackhawks and Canadiens — that currently owns multiple picks in the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft.
- Jesse Granger threw this out there… take it for what it’s worth:
I voted for Colorado, mainly because it would be the most hilarious possible scenario. I’m not sure how the math works out, but with all the injuries the Avalanche have sustained, I don’t think it’s out of the question they could have the space at some point thanks to LTIR. Imagine that powerhouse squad with Kane thrown into the mix? Whew …
- My two cents on the admittedly ridiculous idea of the Avs going after Kane: the math doesn’t work out (for him or Jonathan Toews for that matter), not without a lot of gymnastics and a third team (which makes it an even more expensive proposition). The reason people are linking Toews to Colorado so much is they need help down the middle; they haven’t fully replaced Nazem Kadri yet and might want a veteran to help with that. However, considering their cap situation, I might tend to believe Max Domi (at $3M) might make the most sense on the Blackhawks’ roster if the Avs call inside the division to make a deal.
- Mark Lazerus wrote a nice piece after last night’s loss about the impact veteran defenseman Jack Johnson is having on this young, bad Blackhawks team. Johnson has been through a lot — more than just about any professional hockey player in the league. His unique perspective is a breath of fresh air at times, and his positivity is desperately needed.
“It’s a long year if it gets that way,” Johnson told Lazerus after Tuesday night’s loss. “That’s why it’s important to not let it get to that point. You’ve got to have perspective. It’s the greatest job in the world and you get to go out and play hockey and have fun with your teammates. Nobody likes to lose, we’re all competitors. And this game can challenge you physically and mentally. But there’s no reason to get down or have negative energy creep into the room. You should be excited to come to the rink every day and it should be fun. I think it’s important, especially for the young guys, to keep that enthusiasm and positive frame of mind coming to the rink every day.”
- The Blackhawks head to St. Louis for their next game on Thursday night. The Blues were dealt a tough blow on Tuesday when they had to put defenseman Torey Krug on LTIR.
- In World Juniors action on Tuesday, Sweden was the only team with a Blackhawks’ prospect in action. Victor Stjernborg skated 14:32 and was credited with one shot on net in a 1-0 victory. He lost all six of his faceoffs in a tight game — much tighter than some expected after Sweden won their first game of the tournament 11-0.
- For those keeping an eye on 2023 draft-eligible players in the tournament, Leo Carlsson skated 18:18 and put four shots on net for Sweden.
- The German team that hung around with Sweden on Tuesday will skate against Canada in prime time tonight. We’ll see what the Canadians have for their second go in their hosted tournament. Reports are that they’ll be mixing up their lines and making some changes after taking Czechia for granted and getting their lunches handed to them on Monday night.
- Finally, the Blackhawks aren’t the only team in town chasing a top-two pick. Could the Bears also land the top selection in 2023? What what would that mean to that franchise?