Seabrook’s Coaching Debut a Win, Trade Winds Blowing, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
The Blackhawks didn’t practice on Wednesday, but a few of the players had their eyes on the big-time prospect game that took place in Vancouver. The top draft-eligible prospects in the CHL leagues were on display in an all-star game with every NHL general manager watching closely. I was watching because Brent Seabrook coached the White Team.
- How about a team photo before last night’s 2023 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game game?
- And then we’ve got this beauty getting his game plan together for facing Connor Bedard. This is from the Vancouver Giants’ Instagram account:
- So how did the game play out? Bedard actually came out and had a few of the biggest hits in the first period, but the White Team did a nice job of keeping him away from the most dangerous area. Bedard had some good looks but didn’t finish. Between the second and third periods, the player on the White Team who spoke with the television folks said “Brent” put in some good systems that helped them skate to a scoreless second frame.
- Seabrook’s team won the game 4-1 and Bedard was held off the board. It was an impressive showing for Seabrook in his “head coaching debut.”
- A few players who stood out for me watching the game last night: Zach Benson, Luca Pinelli, Coulson Pitre and Carson Rehkopf were terrific. Rehkopf was the White Team’s player of the game.
- Scott Wheeler at The Athletic offered some scouting thoughts on both teams from last night as well as the BioSteel All-American Game from earlier.
- Based on what I saw in the two games and Wheeler’s analysis, if the Blackhawks somehow end up with the fifth overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft I would have Benson and Will Smith circled.
- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said he doesn’t believe teams “tank” in the league. Ben Pope’s story below discusses how the Blackhawks’ winning to start January — as it did in October — hasn’t taken them out of the top-three spots in the hypothetical draft order. But the difference between third and first (last?) is significant.
Nonetheless, in a year with exactly four elite prospects in the draft class, the difference between finishing last (which offers a 25.5% chance of picking first overall and a guaranteed top-three pick) and finishing third-to-last (which offers an 11.5% chance of picking first and a 28.8% chance of falling to fifth) is significant.
- Speaking of which, the Blue Jackets beating the Oilers in overtime last night was a lovely bump for the Blackhawks in the Bedard Sweepstakes. Chicago is percentage points behind Columbus and Anaheim for the top spot in the draft lottery and have games in-hand on both.
- There’s been a lot of buzz — increasing, in fact — surrounding Jake McCabe as a trade chip for the Blackhawks in the coming weeks. He’s been the Blackhawks’ best defenseman this season and his contract (two more years with a $4 million cap hit) makes him a potentially attractive player for teams that need help beyond a playoff run this year. The latest rumor has Toronto expressing interest.
- On another podcast full of A-list NHL insiders, a conversation around good fits for the top Stanley Cup contenders included a few Blackhawks players. I was surprised when one panelist mentioned Andreas Athanasiou as a fit in Dallas.
- Today is Wayne Gretzky’s birthday. In all professional team sports in North America, there is zero debate who the GOAT is on ice. “The Great One” still has more assists than any other player has points in NHL history. And he is still the strongest marketing name in hockey. Though I’m still not sure how he puts up with Biz on the TNT pregame shows.
- ESPN’s NFL Draft guru, Mel Kiper, dropped his first mock draft recently. He has the Bears helping their defense with the No. 1 overall pick, but was tempted by a number of trade-down scenarios. If the Blackhawks wind up at No. 1 I don’t think trades will be as much of a conversation.
- Finally, happy anniversary Bears fans! It’s been almost 40 years, but this is still the greatest team in NFL history. My wife bought me the entire 1985 season burned onto DVDs for my birthday a few years back. I might need to get the Super Bowl out before the Blackhawks puck drops at 8 tonight.
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