The Blackhawks visit the Blues in Scott Darling’s favorite city, St. Louis, tonight. Are we starting to get concerned that this run of strong play is going to cost the Blackhawks the best odds of landing Connor Bedard? Or do we enjoy it while it lasts because they did this in October and then November and December happened and the Blackhawks were right back in the basement? Either way, this has been fun. And I would love nothing more than making a dent in the Blues’ playoff chances.
- The trade buzz is growing around the NHL right now. I dug into some rumors that are circulating that involve some Blackhawks skaters, and some that might impact the market for some of the players the Hawks might consider moving.
- Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane own their futures — to an extent. With their full no-move clauses, they own the if and where in a trade scenario. Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson owns the when, as in when a trade happens, and when their Blackhawks’ careers end. If the organization decides to allow both to walk away as free agents this summer, this will be their final season(s) whether a trade happens or not.
- Toews talked to Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times about that reality on Friday.
“There are a lot of different scenarios that are even difficult to think about because I don’t know what it looks like,” Toews told Pope. “I don’t even know what the next few months look like. I don’t know what next year looks like. And likewise for myself.
“I don’t know what our team looks like, as far as if guys are being traded to other teams or whatever the situation might be, [and] if that changes things. There’s a lot of things that might be there, and I have no idea how that impacts me. A lot of people ask me if I’m looking at other teams and other options for myself at the end of this year. [But], really, I’m just focused on my game.”
- Frank Seravalli at the Daily Faceoff updated his Trade Targets Big Board on Friday. One Blackhawks name that’s climbing the list: defenseman Jake McCabe. And it makes sense that he would; McCabe has probably been the Blackhawks’ MVP thus far, especially on the back end. And with two more years of control he could be a valuable piece for a team looking to strengthen their blue line for more than a couple months. Here’s what Seravalli said about McCabe:
The Blackhawks have received a number of calls on McCabe and teammate Connor Murphy in recent weeks. Why? They’re two cost-controlled defensemen with reasonable cap hits. Edmonton, Los Angeles and Toronto are believed to be among the interested teams. Complicating factors include 1) McCabe has a seven-team ‘no-trade’ list that word is includes all seven Canadian teams with the exception of the Maple Leafs; and 2) McCabe does have a questionable injury history, but he’s been healthy this season. Where it gets really interesting on McCabe is if a team is willing to pay Chicago to leverage their cap space and retain half on him. All of a sudden, McCabe for two more seasons at a bargain $2 million cap hit will warrant a juicier return.
- If we believe the widely-held speculation that six of the seven teams (if not all seven) on McCabe’s no-trade list are in Canada, that would eliminate Edmonton. Seravalli indicates Toronto may not be included, and they reportedly have interest. Regarding the Blackhawks retaining money for two more years: the Blackhawks have three defensemen — including McCabe — and zero forwards signed beyond next season on their NHL roster. They wouldn’t be hurt by having $2 million of dead money (it might help them get to the floor).
- Since all of this trade talk is focused on the future of the Blackhawks, let’s transition to some players who have already been drafted by the organization, shall we? One of the hottest prospects in Chicago’s stable has been Gavin Hayes with the Flint Firebirds. The Blackhawks’ third-round pick (No. 66) in the 2022 NHL Draft scored twice last night to give him 24 goals in 40 games this season.
- Coming soon as the hype man of the Chicago Blackhawks: Kevin Korchinki. The Hawks’ top pick in the ’22 draft grabbed the camera for a postgame skate last night after contributing two assists a big 3-2 Seattle win that required a shootout. Not only is he up to 36 points in 27 games for the fabulous Thunderbirds (with a WJC gold medal as well) this season, but he’s got the social game down.
- Ethan Del Mastro picked up two assists in Sarnia’s win over Eerie last night. He now has one goal with those two assists for three points in four games since being traded; Del Mastro has 24 points in 26 games combined between Mississauga and Sarnia this year.
- Paul Ludwinski, the Blackhawks’ first pick of the second round (No. 39), had an absolutely gorgeous assist last night for Kingston. Ludwinski was named their captain after mid-season trades and he’s been warming up lately. He’s up to 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) in 36 games this season.
- The college game of the night last night was between No. 3 Denver and No. 4 St. Cloud State. Blackhawks prospect Dominic Basse was in net for St. Cloud State facing potential future teammate Aidan Thompson of the Pioneers. Thompson had an assist on Denver’s second goal of the night early in the second period.
- Unfortunately for Thompson and his teammates, Basse locked it down from there and DU sent a parade to the penalty box. After DU’s second goal, St. Cloud State out-scored the Pioneers 4-1 in just the second period. With two more in the third, St. Cloud State pulled off a dominating 7-3 upset. Basse stopped 28 of 31 in the win.
- Notre Dame upset Penn State last night and Blackhawks prospect Ryder Rolston scored twice. Rolston, 21, has seven goals and nine assists as a junior for the Fighting Irish.
- Boston University handled their business against Maine and Drew Commesso earned the jacket as the player of the night.
- Finally, I don’t need to ask Blackhawks fans what they should do if they win the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery. But… the Bears already own the top pick in this year’s NFL Draft and have some huge questions to answer. Trade it? Keep it? Who to pick if they stay/move down? Let us know who you would pick at No.1 if the Bears stay put.