Quenneville hopeful Toews, Hjalmarsson can play Wednesday

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Quenneville hopeful Toews, Hjalmarsson can play Wednesday

LOS ANGELES Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson arent currently skating back home, but coach Joel Quenneville is hoping theyll be skating and playing soon.

Toews, Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador did not make the trip for this two-game stint in Los Angeles and Anaheim, but Quenneville is hoping that at least Toews and Hjalmarsson could play Wednesday when the Blackhawks host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

(Toews) is progressing; hes on the same pace he was at before, Quenneville said of Toews, whos possibly suffering some concussion-like symptoms. Well know where hes at when we come back but theres a chance (he plays Wednesday).

Hjalmarsson returned for Thursdays game against the Dallas Stars but apparently suffered a setback heading into the weekend. Quenneville said its not bad. Hopefully when we get back he gets back on the ice with us. Were maybe even looking at (him playing) Wednesday.

The Blackhawks could use both of them back as soon as possible. With 20 games remaining entering Saturdays contest in Los Angeles, every point is critical.

We know the importance of every game, Quenneville said. Were playing a real tough schedule here, all meaningful games, and we want to make sure our team game, start to finish, is in order. We have to be tight defensively and lets make sure we have the urgency because these are all playoff games.

Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys part of Blackhawks’ draft crop

Alex DeBrincat, Chad Krys part of Blackhawks’ draft crop

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Chad Krys couldn’t resist the moment.

The defenseman, whom the Blackhawks selected with the 45th overall pick on Saturday, threw his GoPro into the media session of Alex DeBrincat, picked by the Blackhawks six selections prior to Krys.

“Excuse me, Alex: what would you think if you got drafted to the same team as fellow World Junior teammate Chad Krys?” Krys asked.

For two more American players, it was one more reason to smile.

DeBrincat and Krys were two of the Blackhawks’ three second-round picks as the NHL Draft wrapped up in Buffalo on Saturday. Other selections included forward Artur Kayumov of Russia (50th overall), goaltender Wouter Peeters of Belgium and defenseman Lucas Carlsson of Sweden.

“It was good to have a nice mixture and you don’t always know how it’s going to work out with what you get,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “We did a lot of work last night planning for the picks we had in the second round. I know everyone says this but we’re really excited for the guys that we got.”

About two weeks ago the Blackhawks were short on 2016 draft picks and their first wasn’t until the third round. They ended up with nine, including those three second-round selections.

“When you’re at that point of the list, there are a lot of players that are probably at an equal value. So what we’re discussing is what we’re trying to get out of with those three picks,” said Mark Kelley, the Blackhawks’ director of amateur scouting. “I don’t think we stuck verbatim through the list in the order that it was, all close. The two wingers were very, very high skilled, and the defenseman he’s just a smart, puck-moving. He’s just a mature player.

The Blackhawks' 39th overall selection, DeBrincat is a small but offensively gifted player with the Erie Otters (Ontario Hockey League). DeBrincat, who played one season with Connor McDavid, had consecutive 51-goal seasons with the Otters.

“I don’t know the exact number of guys that scored 50 goals back-to-back in the OHL. It’s a very small list. He certainly is a competitive kid and really knows how to find the back of the net,” Bowman said. “People talk about his size but he did something that is rarely done. So really impressive performance with him and we’re excited.”

Given the Otters’ proximity to this year’s draft host Buffalo, there was a pretty sizeable cheer when DeBrincat’s name was announced.

“It’s pretty hard to put into words. I’m really excited to be a part of this organization,” DeBrincat said. “It was a long day [Friday.] I didn’t really know if I was going to go or not, but I’m really happy now and glad it’s over.”

Krys, who is headed to Boston University this fall, was part of Team USA’s U20 team with DeBrincat. For Krys, who hopes to develop his game more in college, the possibility of playing for the Blackhawks one day is enticing.

“I think they like skating defensemen who can move the puck quickly, get the puck up to their forwards and handle the puck well and be involved,” Krys said. “So it’s great to be part of an organization that has defensemen who play like that.”

BLACKHAWKS’ SELECTIONS

No. 39: Alex Debrincat, F, Erie Otters

45: Chad Krys, D, committed to Boston University

50: Artur Kayumov, F, Russia

83: Wouter Peeters, G, Belgium

110: Lucas Carlsson, D, Sweden

113: Nathan Noel, C, Saint John

143: Mathias From, D, Sweden

173: Blake Hillman, D, University of Denver

203: Jake Ryczek, D, Waterloo Black Hawks

Andrew Shaw ready for new chapter with Marc Bergevin, Canadiens

Andrew Shaw ready for new chapter with Marc Bergevin, Canadiens

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Andrew Shaw and Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin go back a few years.

It was Bergevin, when he was assistant general manager with the Blackhawks, who signed Shaw to his entry-level contract. And now they’re together again.

“He likes the rat in me, the work ethic,” Shaw said on Saturday via conference call. “He enjoys watching me play and dealing with him on my first contract was exciting for me as well. I owe him a lot.”

Shaw has run the gamut of emotions over the last day or so. The forward, who so fervently wanted to stay with Chicago, never got the deal to remain here. Instead he was sent to Montreal, where he’s reunited with Bergevin and will help the Canadiens increase their grit level. With Shaw and Brendan Gallagher together on that team, the pest factor will truly be high.

“Me and Gallagher, we have had some fun battles,” Shaw said. “Now I’m excited to be on his side to annoy people together, I guess.”

Still, the last five years with the Blackhawks, which included two Stanley Cups, will stay with Shaw forever. Shaw thought he and the Blackhawks were “pretty close” to a deal, but it never came to fruition.

“They have cap issues and it’s tough to get around, especially this time of year with the draft, free agency coming. It was tough. I thought we were close. Just have to move past it,” Shaw said. “Got a fresh start with a new team and I’m excited about that. It’ll be fun. Excited to meet the guys and get in that room. On the other end, I’ll miss my friends and teammates in Chicago as well.”

What contract Shaw gets from the Canadiens remains to be seen. Darren Dreger tweeted Saturday that talks between the two camps are going well, and Shaw could get “a 5-7-year extension in the days ahead.” The Blackhawks weren’t in a position to offer a lot of money or a lengthy term.

So Shaw turns a page in his career. His years with the Blackhawks were special to him but he’s reuniting with the man who helped bring him to Chicago in the first place.

“It’s a business. I knew the options that were coming my way. I just sat back and was patient and let that unravel. There’s not much I can do personally. Obviously five years in Chicago, two championships and a lot of friends, but I’m ready to move on and start a new chapter,” Shaw said. “I’m excited it’ll be with Montreal, and I hope everyone else feels the same way.”

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, cap issues probably prevented that from happening.

Shaw was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for two second-round selections, as the NHL Draft began on Friday. Shaw 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, that 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, which continues with Rounds 2-7 on Saturday.

General manager Stan Bowman didn’t say how close or how far away the Blackhawks and Shaw’s camp were regarding a potential new deal.

“It’s a very tough day, a difficult decision to make,” Bowman said following Round 1. “We love Andrew, everything he’s brought to the Blackhawks. We certainly want to thank him for some incredible hockey. He’s been the ultimate warrior for us and we certainly wish him well. It was a very difficult decision and these are the hard ones to make. It was a tough phone call. But we absolutely wish him the best and we’re trying to look forward.”

The salary cap will be $73 million this season, just $1.6 million more than 2015-16. Asked if that minimal cap hike sealed Shaw’s fate, Bowman said, “I don’t know how to handicap that. It was really just something we worked at as much as we could and you have to make tough decisions sometimes and this was one of those.”

A Shaw re-signing seemed more likely after Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen were traded, freeing up more than $4 million in cap space. Instead, the Blackhawks send him to Montreal and bulk up their draft selections. What Shaw gets from the Canadiens remains to be seen but both Pierre LeBrun and Elliotte Friedman report that Shaw should get a new deal relatively soon.

As for the Blackhawks, not signing Shaw gives them breathing room. That’s good now and it could prove more important later, especially if the Blackhawks find a way to sign Artemi Panarin long term.

“We have enough cap room now,” Bowman said. “Whether we make moves to make moves remains to be seen but we don’t have a salary-cap problem.”

Cap space is what the Blackhawks saved. But it’s another loss to their roster, another player going elsewhere due to salary-cap issues. Bowman said the Blackhawks are moving forward. But they’ve lost a lot in the process. Shaw is the latest.

“We’re trying to make this situation the best we can with the salary cap and we’re here at the draft and we’re looking for the future. We’re trying to build our team for many years to come. So there’s always that balance between the current team and also the future,” Bowman said. “And in order to have future Blackhawks coming through you have to sometimes make tough decisions. And that’s how it went.”