What's Up with Kane? Breaking Down Canada's Huge WJC Win, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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What’s Up with Kane? Breaking Down Canada’s Huge WJC Win, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks will practice today, so we’ll get our first look at Brett Seney with the NHL regulars and another run with Lukas Reichel. But I think most of the eyeballs will be searching for/watching Patrick Kane if he’s on the ice, and the questions that follow the skate will likely begin with his status for Friday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. So stay tuned for updates on that.

  • The Kane injury issue becomes especially intriguing because we’re inside two months to the NHL’s trade deadline. And we’ve talked plenty about Kane being a fit for one team that’s scouted the Blackhawks a lot this season: the Boston Bruins. On Wednesday we learned one of the Bruins’ better forwards this season, Jake DeBrusk, is going to miss time with a fractured fibula. He apparently suffered the injury during the Winter Classic in which he scored both of Boston’s goals in a really fun 2-1 Bruins’ victory.
  • After a tumultuous few years in Boston in which he’s askes for a trade and rescinded that request a couple times, DeBrusk is having a career year (16 goals and 14 assists in 36 games). He’s also on the Bruins’ top-line, meaning they have a need. They don’t have the cap space to make a swing for 88 yet, but… where some may have argued previously there isn’t a need to add a player like Kane, this may have created that need/opportunity.
  • Of course Kane needs to be healthy, and he will need to waive his no-move clause for anything to happen. We’ve received zero indications he’s ready to make that decision, and now we’re hoping he’s healthy enough to stay in the lineup.
  • Did you watch the Canada vs. United States semifinal game in the World Juniors last night? The two biggest scoring teams in the tournament, a huge rivalry, kids who play for Michigan everywhere… it had everything you wanted with a trip to the gold medal game on the line. The US took a quick 2-0 lead in the first period and were rolling. Then Canada slowly woke up and took the game over. When the dust settled, Canada had a 6-2 win and three Blackhawks prospects will have a chance to win a championship.
  • The first goal of the night went to, you guessed it, Connor Bedard. And Blackhawks defenseman Ethan Del Mastro, who has had a strong tournament, picked up an assist.
  • How big was Del Mastro for Canada last night? He led the entire game — both teams’ rosters — in ice time (27:45) with two minor penalties. And he finished the night plus-four in a game Canada won by four. He’s been a stud in this tournament and continues to build the bank of evidence that the Blackhawks have a legit defenseman coming soon.
  • Yesterday when I wrote about some prospects in the tournament I’ve been watching with the Blackhawks’ other three picks in the late-first and second round in mind, I mentioned that Adam Fantilli‘s tournament has been underwhelming to lots of people. Before the game, when I tweeted my prediction for the big game (which I felt great about at 2-0 US but whiffed on miserably), the one part of the tweet that I got right was that Fantilli would have a night. He scored what stood up as the game-winning goal for Canada on a power move and added an assist in his best performance of the tournament.
  • Kevin Korchinski didn’t factor in the game much. He got on the ice for only six shifts (4:28) and got only 48 seconds of ice time in the third period. He’s been used as a depth defenseman for Canada in this tournament, but that makes sense. The guys on the top of the depth chart, including Del Mastro, have been there before. I still would have liked to have seen more of him, especially with a three-goal lead.
  • Nolan Allan skated 14:26 last night. He has been as advertised in the tournament: a strong stay-at-home defenseman who plays the body and the puck pretty well. I can see why the Seattle squad for whom they both play likes having them together.
  • Speaking of Korchinski and Allan’s Seattle Thunderbirds, one of their teammates may have emerged from Bedard’s shadow last night as one of the other stories of this tournament. Thomas Milic is one of the two primary goaltenders in Seattle; he’s an undrafted 19-year-old (turns 20 on April 14) who started the tournament as Canada’s No. 2 netminder. But he took the starting job and hasn’t let it go, and was magnificent last night.
  • The United States will face Sweden in the bronze medal game after they lost a stunning semifinal game. Sweden carried a 1-0 lead late into the third period but Czechia tied the game with their net empty and 38 seconds left in regulation. Czechia was able to steal the win in overtime, providing us with all of the drama you love to see. Blackhawks’ center prospect and Sweden captain Victor Stjernborg won 11 of 20 faceoffs and put two shots on net in 17:25 on their top line.
  • Canada will play Czechia, who beat them to open the tournament, in the gold medal game tonight. Can Canada take what they learned from the loss earlier in the tournament and apply it tonight? Is Czechia just enough of a wagon that they cannot be stopped? Will Bedard put the capstone on his historic performance with a signature night? I can’t wait to watch tonight.
  • This was an… interesting take from the boys at Spittin’ Chiclets. In the mind of former NHL player Ryan Whitney, there’s no way the NHL “let’s” the Blackhawks win the Bedard lottery because of the transgressions we learned about in the Kyle Beach report. They’re buying the conspiracy theory that the NHL is going to use Bedard to prop up the franchise they’ve allowed to circumvent the cap by taking dead contracts for more than a decade, the Arizona Coyotes, because they might get a new arena. It’s an interesting take, but them putting it out there this early with the size of their platform puts just a little pressure on the NHL to try to distance themselves from conspiracy theories.
  • Entering Wednesday, the Coyotes would have the fifth-best odds of winning the lottery. But the Montreal Canadiens are sprinting the wrong direction and might pass them soon; the Habs are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games while Arizona has a 4-5-1 record in the same span.
  • The Blackhawks called up a couple guys from Rockford yesterday, neither of whom was named Cole Guttman. As I wrote yesterday, it’s hard to argue with Seney getting the call based on his career year in the AHL. He’s earned a promotion. And he’s skating on a one-year contract; Guttman has another year on his paper. But I do expect to see Guttman in the NHL at some point this season. He was featured in a nice story from the AHL yesterday.
  • I know I spend a lot of time preaching patience. Over the summer, I wrote our Trade Tree series looking at how some deals develop over years and how the delayed gratification sometimes needs to come with a reminder of how we got to where we are. Pierre LeBrun at The Athletic wrote a terrific piece that focuses on that same idea for yesterday, with the focus being the emergence of Tage Thompson as a superstar in Buffalo.
  • As a reminder: Thompson was a first-round pick of the Blues in 2016. Buffalo made him a must-have when they traded Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis in 2018. A the time of the trade, Thompson had scored three goals with six assists in 41 NHL games.
  • The full trade was Thompson, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, a first-round pick in the 2019 draft (Ryan Johnson) and a second-round pick in the 2021 draft (Benjamin Roger) for O’Reilly. Feels like a massive haul, right? Well, O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe for the Blues so they “won” the trade in the immediate reaction space. But now, years later with Thompson emerging as an elite playmaker and scorer (signed long-term) in Buffalo and ROR on IR in the final year of his contract on a struggling Blues team, some might argue the Sabres did much, much better than they were initially given credit.

So to recap, it takes a village sometimes. The former GM made the trade, the current coach helped unlock the player, the current GM appears to have made a brilliant move in extending him when he did.

  • Keep this in mind as the Blackhawks rebuild. There are players we’re all going to be excited to see in the NHL (like Del Mastro) who were drafted by the previous regime. Stan Bowman was the GM for three Stanley Cup championships built on foundational pieces drafted or acquired by previous GMs. But I’ve written a few times now that there may be some prospects emerging from Bowman’s final couple draft classes who could help support the direction Kyle Davidson is taking the organization. Where’s Axl Rose when you need people to have a little patience
  • Now that we’re all collectively whistling the intro to that Guns N’ Roses classic the rest of the day, I’ll close this morning’s bullets with a performance that might make you flip over to Soulja Boy on Spotify. Devin Hester is once again a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And my gut tells me he gets in this year. He’s one of the most electrifying football players Chicago has ever seen and the greatest return man in NFL history. Doubt it? Watch the video below.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab