Lafferty’s January Heater, Toews’ Indecision, Kane Ties Teemu, Matthews’ Injury, and Other Blackhawks Bullets
When this Blackhawks team gets off the bus on time, they can make life hell of opponents. After completely whiffing for 60 minutes in Vancouver, they came out and skated circles around a surprisingly flat Flames team. Give credit to the team because, even though there was added attention on the idea of “tanking” and Connor Bedard played in front of every NHL GM on Wednesday night to throw a little gasoline on that flame, they showed up and played hard.
- I gave him some credit last night but wanted to circle back to Sam Lafferty‘s strong play in January. Everything about his game is precisely what the front office is trying to model the future of the team to look like: speed for days and effort every shift. And, in January after some struggles in November and December, the numbers are coming back for Lafferty. He’s third on the team in shots on net (24 — behind Max Domi and Seth Jones), leads the team with five goals and is tied with Taylor Raddysh for third on the team with eight points in 12 games this month. And he’s winning 53.4 percent of his faceoffs.
- When people doubt Kyle Davidson’s chops, the first two players I point to as examples of him using his pro scouts better than Stan Bowman did in his last half-decade as GM are Lafferty from Pittsburgh and Jason Dickinson from Vancouver. He got two valuable players (and a second-round pick in 2024) for Alex Nylander and Riley Stillman.
- Yes, it’s okay to laugh now. Those two trades are robbery.
- Whenever the Blackhawks win the rest of the season, the immediate question will be: “So, how did that screw up their chances of getting Connor Bedard?” Well, last night worked out almost as well for the Hawks as it did for sportsbooks. There were upsets all over the NHL. Thanks, Arizona and Anaheim!
- Jonathan Toews didn’t play on Thursday night because he was sick. But earlier in the day he apparently had a conversation Mark Lazerus in which the intrepid reporter tried to get an idea of whether or not the Blackhawks’ captain is going to hang around Chicago for the rest of the season — or, maybe, longer — or if he’s going to ask for a trade. The result: lots of words and zero clear indication of anything.
- As fans, some of us can easily compartmentalize the professional athlete part of these guys. But let’s remember Toews moved to Chicago as a teenager almost 16 years ago; he’ll turn 34 in April, meaning almost half of his life has been in Chicago wearing the Blackhawks’ crest on his jersey. So yeah, it might not be easy to make that decision.
- I appreciated this section of Laz’s story from speaking with Flames — and former Blackhawks — head coach Darryl Sutter about Toews and/or Patrick Kane moving on.
Earlier in the day, Flames coach Darryl Sutter, after reminiscing about the peak years of the Kings and Blackhawks and the 2014 Western Conference finals — the “best series I’ve ever coached,” he said — said he’d have a hard time picturing Toews and Kane in different jerseys.
“That was my team growing up, still kind of my jersey,” Sutter said. “So I identify them guys with it.”
- Congrats to Kaner for moving up another notch on the NHL’s all-time leaderboard last night.
- While we’re on the subject of the trade market for veteran centers, TSN Hockey Insiders Chris Johnston, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger did a roundtable where they discussed a number of rumors. One was the market for Montreal veteran center Sean Monahan, who is coming back from injury. Monahan is in the final year of his contract that carries a $6.375 million cap hit an is expected off LTIR at some point. So his name has found itself in the same conversations as Toews’ and a few others when talking about teams needing a second or third-line center.
The Avalanche expect [captain Gabriel] Landeskog to be playing way before the end of the regular season, they hope by early March. So his $7 million cap hit will be on the books so they don’t have that much cap room to play with. So when it comes to Ryan O’Reilly or Bo Horvat, yes I think the Avs are going to keep tabs on those situations. However, they don’t have a lot of future assets, they’ve spent a lot over the past couple of years to get too serious with [those players]. That’s why I think a guy like Monahan makes sense and that’s why it’s a name I know the Avs have talked about.
- Toronto all-star Auston Matthews isn’t headed to the All-Star Game in Florida any longer. He suffered a knee sprain that will miss at least the next three weeks. [Checks calendar… counts on fingers… ] That means he probably won’t play against the Blackhawks on Feb. 19.
- Finally, the Bulls were supposed to be going for it right now but the wheels have apparently come off. So now they’re in the same seller conversations we are with the Blackhawks. And our guys on the Bulls side of BN are having the same discussions about how and when to invest more time on young players vs. who should be trade bait.