Hawks set to showcase skills

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Hawks set to showcase skills

OTTAWA, Ontario Patrick Kane was struggling to come up with a strategy for the breakaway challenge, to which he was named just before he talked to the media on Friday night. He even took to Twitter to ask followers for suggestions.

Im going to have to put some things together, Kane said. Hopefully Ill put on a show.

Whether he figures it out or gets some good ideas from his 90,000-plus tweeps, chances are Kane will put on that show.

Kane will participate in three events and fellow Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa will go in the NHL All-Star Skills competition on Saturday night. Kane is also in the skills challenge relay (for passing accuracy) and the elimination shootout). Hossa will be in the fastest skater and accuracy shooting challenges.

The Blackhawks plan to have fun with it all.

Ill try to do my best and hopefully I dont pull anything, Hossa said with a laugh. Ill try to warm up pretty good.

For Kane, Saturdays skills competition is just about as fun as the game itself. Its a chance to be creative, throw in some trickery and ad-lib on the ice, if you will.

When I was a kid I always wanted (the players) to do something fancy, Kane said. Its a good event to try to get fans out of their seats. I think Im going to put more show into it and do some cool things.

Kane will probably pull something out of the bag of tricks for his events. Perhaps that shootout move against the Minnesota Wild that became a highlight-reel favorite?

Maybe well see that one, Kane said. Hopefully the fans like what I do. Its definitely a nerve-wracking event, probably the most. Id love to win it.

Blackhawks deal Andrew Shaw to Montreal for two draft picks

Blackhawks deal Andrew Shaw to Montreal for two draft picks

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Andrew Shaw had to wait until his third go-around in the NHL Draft before he was selected by the Blackhawks. Two Stanley Cups later, he became a big part of this group.

Like several before him, he said he wanted to stay here. Like several before him, it didn’t happen.

Shaw was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for two second-round selections, as the NHL Draft began on Friday. The forward was going to become a restricted free agent next Friday. And while both sides said they hoped to find a deal to keep Shaw in Chicago, the deal didn’t come.

The Blackhawks get two second-round picks, the 39th and 45th overall selections, in this draft. That now gives them 10 selections in this draft.

Coach Joel Quenneville talked of Shaw’s importance to the team prior to the draft’s start on Friday. His grittiness made him a fan favorite, and Shaw was someone the Blackhawks could always rely on to be that net-front presence.

“He’s one of those players that you appreciate and he’s so versatile and the intangibles jump off the page when we’re talking about him,” Quenneville said. “It’s a situation where players are in some situations where contracts need to be signed and his importance, contributions we’ve seen over the years has been pretty amazing for us.”

Whether it came down to a big money gap between the two parties, as it did with the Blackhawks and Brandon Saad last year, or something else isn’t known yet. Stan Bowman will likely talk following the first round’s conclusion.

Shaw talked in April of how much he wanted to stay here. At the time, it seemed unlikely, considering the Blackhawks’ cap issues. But after Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen were traded more than a week ago, freeing up more than $4 million in cap space, it seemed more likely Shaw would stay. But he won’t.

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks trying to get something done with Andrew Shaw

Stan Bowman: Blackhawks trying to get something done with Andrew Shaw

We’re entering the meaty portion of this offseason. The NHL draft begins Friday in Buffalo and free agency commences July 1. The Blackhawks have selections to make, questions to answer and a roster to shape.

And so it begins again.

With the salary cap set at $73 million for the 2016-17 season, general manager Stan Bowman can move forward with potential signings and other offseason moves. The top priority still seems to be re-signing Andrew Shaw, although Bowman said on Thursday there’s been no progress on that front thus far. Shaw’s agent Pat Brisson said via email last week that he expects to talk to Bowman at the draft this weekend.

“We’ve had some good discussions with his agent, so that’s ongoing. And we’re trying to get something done. That’s how I can characterize it right now,” Bowman said from Buffalo. “There are a lot of things we’re working through and that’s certainly one of them.”

The Blackhawks have some cap room but not a ton. If they do sign Shaw, he could take $3 million or more of that; he had a cap hit of $2 million last season. Do the Blackhawks get a defenseman? Do they make some other deal in the next few days/weeks? Plenty of speculation abounds this time of year but Bowman wasn’t talking about any of it.

“There are lots of rumors floating round. I’d say a majority of them are false but you can’t comment on individual rumors. We have a job to do and there are a lot of conversations this time of year,” Bowman said. “We’re trying to prepare for the draft, we have eight picks and that’s an important part of building for the future, making sure we prepare well and choose the right players. The other part of it is shaping our roster for next season, which can come through trades, preparing for free agency and those type of things. There’s a lot happening and these are busy days.”

In the meantime, the Blackhawks have shored up several depth players recently. Richard Panik signed a one-year deal last week. Nick Schmaltz signed a three-year, entry-level deal on Sunday. Dennis Rasmussen was re-signed for this coming season on Wednesday. As much as everyone likes the splashy deal and players these depth guys are just as important, especially to a team constantly fighting cap issues.

“It’s a huge part of what we’re trying to do here and critical to our success going forward,” Bowman said. “[This is Rasmussen’s] third year with us. He took a big jump last year and now he’s trying to build on that and expand his role. With Nick, we’re thrilled he made the decision he was ready for pro hockey. We’ve felt that way for a while here, watching him the last two years in college. He’s grown his game from when we drafted him and we thought it was time for him to take the next step. He felt the same way. He’ll have a great opportunity to show us what he can do in camp. We don’t hand out jobs but they’re there to come and earn. He’s prepared to have a big summer. When we get to see him on the ice, you’ll see the talent he has.”

The Blackhawks have eight picks at the draft; they’ve usually selected a good mix of forwards, defensemen and goaltending and they’ll probably do the same this draft. But this weekend usually goes beyond taking future prospects. The Blackhawks have decisions to make and a roster to shape. Much of that could start this weekend.

Report: Brian Campbell has interest in returning to Blackhawks

Report: Brian Campbell has interest in returning to Blackhawks

Could Brian Campbell be making a return to the Blackhawks?

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc, the veteran defenseman — who's an unrestricted free agent — is interested in returning to Chicago.

Campbell was a member of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup winning squad back in 2010 and spent three seasons in a Chicago sweater before getting traded to the Panthers, with whom he spent the past five seasons.

During his three seasons with the Blackhawks, Campbell tallied 117 points. He registered 18 points in three Stanley Cup Playoffs, was a playoffs-leading plus-11 during the 2010 run to the Cup and recorded the lone assist on Patrick Kane's Cup-winning goal in overtime of Game 6.

The 37-year-old Campbell has 487 career points and is a plus-51 in his 16-year NHL career. He's been selected to seven All-Star Games.