New Names and Faces In The Lineup and Other Blackhawks Bullets
I hope you were able to enjoy a (checks calendar for what day it is) Friday evening without any more looming trade speculation or games on the calendar. Just a fun Friday night… with the weather going to hell. Anyways, it’s been a long week so we all deserve a good moment to relax.
- The Blackhawks only made one trade on Friday. Just one. And it was to bring in forward Austin Wagner from the LA Kings’ AHL affiliate. He’ll join the Blackhawks’ NHL roster for the rest of the season, as will Anders Bjork — two players the Blackhawks got for nothing. Literally nothing. (Future Considerations.) Cole Guttman signed with the Blackhawks as a college free agent in August and has earned himself a permanent promotion to the NHL.
- New forward Joey Anderson is learning a new system and new teammates. He’s also trying to figure out how to get his baby daughter a US passport. Life isn’t easy for players around trades, and Chicago’s new forward is an example of a young guy playing the game while also dealing with a lot off the ice as well.
- It looked and felt like training camp at practice on Friday. There were a few new faces — and more are coming. So the coaches took time to get everyone back on the same page on the ice.
- Nikita Zaitsev was at practice on Friday after finally clearing immigration. He’ll wear No. 22 for the Blackhawks. According to head coach Luke Richardson, Bjork was still in transit and they’re hoping he joins the team in time for the game on Saturday. He’ll wear Sam Lafferty’s No. 24 apparently. Anderson will remain No. 15. No word, yet, on Wagner’s jersey number.
- MacKenzie Entwistle is cleared to return from his wrist injury, and Richardson said they’re going to see how he feels on Saturday after a full-go at practice on Friday with a brace on it. Entwistle said Friday he’ll probably have to play through some pain the rest of the season.
- Richardson spoke a little bit about how he wants to see Philipp Kurashev be more consistently up-tempo and attacking, especially since it would appear he’ll be seeing some time at center after the trades in the past week. The only guys left who have taken any kind of consistent faceoffs this season for the Blackhawks (at any point) are Jason Dickinson, Guttman (since being recalled — small sample size) and Jujhar Khaira (when healthy — also a small sample size).
- Assuming Bjork makes it into town as planned and can join the team for the game on Saturday, between now and Monday the Blackhawks coaches will have to figure out how to best integrate two newly acquired forwards (Bjork and Wagner), one forward with three games and one real practice under his belt (Anderson), one forward returning from injury (Entwistle) and maybe another (Reese Johnson is close to coming back) all while seeing how players develop chemistry and whose skills fit best with each other. Good luck with that!
- Davidson was asked specifically about the Patrick Kane trade and the return he was able to get for one of the greatest players in franchise history. He said he completely understands — indeed, he agrees — that the picks he received isn’t worthy of Kane’s legacy. But in the situation he was dealing from, he felt the return was adequate.
- I appreciated the candor with which Davidson acknowledged that Kane’s no-move clause tied his hands, and Kane’s wish to go to the Rangers was something he had every intention of fulfilling, even if it meant he wasn’t able to get the absolute best return.
- Finally, the Bears are looking at prospects right now just as much as the Blackhawks are, except they’re scouting for their upcoming draft. They, too, need skill on offense. And our team are making sure you know who might help them in the future.
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