As the weather heats up, so have the Hawks

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As the weather heats up, so have the Hawks

The only thing hotter than the Blackhawks right now are the temperatures in the Chicagoland area. And, just like the temperature, the Blackhawks show no signs of cooling off anytime soon.

Can we look at one aspect of Chicago's game to find out why they're on such a red-hot streak? No, not really, because right now they are a sum of all their moving parts, and this is a finely-tuned machine we're talking about. So let's take a look at some of these parts.

It always starts from the top, so that's where we'll start. A lot of names were bandied about leading up to the NHL trade deadline, and the name GM Stan Bowman added at the cost of a couple of draft picks was Johnny Oduya. Many responded with "Johnny Who?" Well the Blackhawks struck gold with this move. Not only is he the fleet-footed
defenseman they thought he'd be, he's been a great shutdown D-man with enough offensive prowess that he is very comfortable on the power play.

Last week I wrote that coach Joel Quenneville and his staff deserve a lot of the credit for what's going on here and that still holds true, especially the way they have handled the goaltenders. It's not easy to pull a goaltender and then have to worry about how he'll handle it down the road, but as my mom and Freddy Neitzsche used to say "that which does not kill you makes you stronger" and that has certainly been the case for Chicago's two netminders, both winning NHL Star of the Week honors the last two weeks.

I've already talked goaltenders, so let's get on to the players. Every player to a man has stepped up in the absence of captain Jonathan Toews, but maybe none more so than Patrick Kane. After a pretty average first half to the season, not only is Kane supplying the offense you'd expect, but he's been a valuable asset in his own zone and in the face off circle. Take a look at his takeaways the last three weeks, and you'll see that Kane is a man on a mission.

Add Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith to
the list of leaders who have found another gear without number 19 in the lineup.

I won't spend a lot of time on the rookies, but when you have Nick Leddy (not really a rookie but only 21 years old) Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw, Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes pulling down important minutes and making huge contributions, you see why the Blackhawks are on a 7-1-1 run.

Here's hoping they stay as hot as the temperature in Chicago.

Blackhawks among teams in contention to land Jimmy Vesey

Blackhawks among teams in contention to land Jimmy Vesey

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said at the ninth annual Blackhawks Convention that he's prepared to enter the 2016-17 season with the roster as currently constructed, but there could be one more addition coming, and an impactful one at that.

Coveted free agent forward Jimmy Vesey will hit the open market on Aug. 15, and the Blackhawks are reportedly among the short list of teams set to meet with him when he's eligible to speak with other clubs next month.

"Chicago will be a team we want to talk to on Aug. 15," Vesey's agent Peter Donatelli told Scott Powers of The Athletic over the phone Monday. "Chicago will be on the list, but it shouldn't be read as they're ahead of anyone else.

"He really has no idea where he's going to be. It's going to be up to the teams to sell him. ... Yes, [we have criteria], but we're interested in what the teams say rather than telling the teams what they have to say."

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Vesey is currently property of the Buffalo Sabres after the Nashville Predators, who originally drafted him with the No. 66 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, traded the 23-year-old left winger's negotiating rights in June for a 2016 third-round selection when it became apparent the two sides wouldn't be able to hammer out a deal.

What makes Vesey and Chicago a perfect match for each other is there's a legitimate spot open in the top-six to potentially play alongside Jonathan Toews, and because Vesey would be signing an entry-level contract, the maximum allowable salary is $925,000 per year, which benefits the cap-strapped Blackhawks.

Vesey is a two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, and captured the award as the best player in college hockey last season after scoring 24 goals and adding 22 assists in 33 games with Harvard University, where he played four years.

The previous two Hobey Baker Award winners are Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames (2014) and Jack Eichel of the Sabres (2015), so the possibility of Vesey landing in Chicago could immediately give the Blackhawks another dynamic scoring option.

CSN to air five Blackhawks preseason games

CSN to air five Blackhawks preseason games

The Blackhawks announced their 2016 preseason television broadcast schedule on Tuesday, and you can catch five of the six total contests here on Comcast SportsNet. 

The Blackhawks will open their preseason slate on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. on CSN Plus when the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. Their six-game slate comes against just three opponents as they will face the Penguins, Blues and Red Wings twice over the span of two weeks. 

Ticket information for the 2016 preseason will be announced at a later date. 

Here is the Blackhawks' full preseason television broadcast schedule:

David Rundblad, Blackhawks mutually part ways

David Rundblad, Blackhawks mutually part ways

The Blackhawks and David Rundblad have mutually agreed to terminate the defenseman’s contract, as generalfanager.com reported on Monday night.

With the contract terminated, the Blackhawks will not carry any type of Rundblad-related cap hit. If the Blackhawks had bought out Rundblad, they would have carried a $133,333 cap hit this season and a $183,333 the next season.

Per generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks now have approximately $2.3 million in cap space.

Rundblad was placed on waivers on July 1. The defenseman spent part of the 2015-16 season playing in Switzerland. He returned to the Blackhawks last spring and played in three of the team’s seven playoff games against the St. Louis Blues.

But Rundblad could never find a consistent place in the Blackhawks’ lineup. General manager Stan Bowman talked in July of Rundblad wanting a fresh start.

“He’s still a young guy, wants to get back to playing a lot of hockey and that’s why he wanted to go to Europe mid-season. We were willing to honor that request. We’ll let him find a spot where he knows he’ll be a regular player every day,” Bowman said in July. “He has a bright future. We wish him well. But it’s hard as a guy trying to establish yourself in the NHL if you don’t play a lot of minutes. But I think we’ll see David back in the NHL in a few years. I think he wants to find a better fit where he’ll play a lot.”