And now, the end is near…
The Blackhawks’ bye week is just about done. While I sit and wonder how the heck it went this quickly, another “end” doth approacheth: the trade deadline.
We’re less than two weeks away from the March 1 deadline, and not surprisingly, there are some questions about that.
#Tradar are you expecting to see anything happen before trade deadline, if so, what?— Emelie (@okquiche) February 15, 2017
When Stan Bowman talked to us prior to the Blackhawks’ game in San Jose on Jan. 31, he said he’d be perfectly fine going ahead with this team the way it was. Asked specifically about acquiring a left wing for the top line, he said, “I’m not expecting a big addition like that.”
He said the same thing to Elliotte Friedman in Friedman’s recent 30 Thoughts column. Bowman likes how the Blackhawks’ younger players are progressing and has confidence in them. Since we talked to Bowman, the Blackhawks have gone 5-1. Their four-line rotation is coming together. They played better defense as they went. Corey Crawford is returning to form. Does he stand pat? Tweak? Splash? I’m saying no to a big-splash move. That costs you a lot and the Blackhawks want to hang on to draft picks (they’re hosting the 2017 NHL Draft and it’s no secret they want it to be their showcase). I still won’t be surprised if there’s a tweak, just a little something to bolster the forward depth. Anything more than that is too costly and runs the risk of disrupting chemistry, which I believe is as good as it’s been in several seasons.
Now onto the rest of the mailbag:
Although unlikely, is Darling traded for a player of value, or does Stan let him go as a UFA & get nothing in return? #Tradar— Dolemite (@TheOriginalRTD) February 15, 2017
This is a question better answered in the offseason, but I’ll give it a shot. Darling is one more player who has said he wants to stay with the Blackhawks. Unlike the others, he grew up around here. BUT, let’s remember something else: if Darling keeps having a great season, he may want to get a shot at a No. 1 job elsewhere. It would be understandable, and I’m sure the Blackhawks will try and do something that works for both parties. Again, we’re a few months away from anything happening there so let’s revisit later.
Do any of the kids stay with the @goicehogs until after the trade deadline? And if so who?— Sandra Muer (@SandraMuer) February 15, 2017
UPDATED ANSWER. This is the beauty of the internet: you can refresh parts of the mailbag easily. On Thursday evening the Blackhawks recalled Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero from the Rockford IceHogs. No surprise on Schmaltz. As I said in my original answer prior to the moves, Schmaltz is finding his game and that top line with he, Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik was playing well before the bye week. Also as previously said, not a shock that Gustav Forsling stays in Rockford, too. Blackhawks have seven defensemen now and the previous attempts at rotating eight just weren’t working. According to CapFriendly, the Blackhawks currently have $3.226 million in cap space and will have nearly $4.2 million in cap space at the trade deadline.
seems more and more likely that TVR will be the player the Hawks lose to Vegas, do you think he's the most likely one? #Tradar— Ryan K (@Roadkill823) February 15, 2017
I once thought that myself. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe they’d like a Marcus Kruger, who brings a lot of two-way ability to the table. Let’s also remember that Ryan Hartman is now exposed to the expansion draft. A young kid having a surprising rookie season, can mix it up if necessary (although he’s moving away from that) and is good at getting under opponents’ skin. That could be tempting for Vegas.
#Tradar. Do you think Coach Q will change up the defensive pairings as the playoffs approach? If so, how and when?— Blackhawk Up (@Blackhawk_Up) February 16, 2017
I’ll be curious to see what he does with the pairings, mainly with Michal Kempny. I’m going to assume Kempny will play more down the stretch. Maybe Michal Rozsival gets in now and then coming off his injury, but you’ve got to move forward with Kempny. As far as pairings, unless there are issues down the stretch I don’t see him changing much. As much as coach Joel Quenneville does change things up when things aren’t going well, he stays put when they are.
What is the best NHL arena when it comes to accommodations for media members? And the worst? #Tradar— Mike Condon (@mikecondon) February 15, 2017
Lot of good ones. I’m a sucker for a great view, which is why I miss Rexall Place and still love Bell Centre and yes, the Scotiabank Saddledome (sorry, Laz). I’m also a huge fan of Madison Square Garden since it’s renovation. Not too high up, not too far back. The worst view is Prudential Arena. I joke that you’re so far up in the arena that you’re above the tree line. Seriously, there’s going to come a day when I see clouds below me in that arena.
I’m convinced he already knows English and is just avoiding us. Remember earlier this season when Panarin came out of the penalty box to score the overtime winner against the St. Louis Blues? I was talking to Patrick Kane about Panarin following that game and Panarin referred to himself as a “ninja” before leaving the room. I’m just waiting for the day I find out he speaks better English than I do.
What do you think the Hawks will do with Pokka? He's been in no man's land for awhile now. #Tradar— Kayla Marie Carbone (@BigTimeKayla) February 16, 2017
Pokka is part of a deep pool of defensemen. He’s in Rockford right now because other guys are ahead of him, and that’s all there is to it. The Blackhawks don’t have to do anything with him other than let him keep playing with the IceHogs.
I would absolutely love to attend one of the Slams, although not sure I’d want to cover it. I’d want to be part of that excitement as a spectator. So much of my enthusiasm over sports has been killed out of me because of this job, that I’d like to rekindle some of it.
Favorite Sonoma/Napa wineries? #Tradar— willseph (@willseph83) February 15, 2017
I haven’t gone to many out there but one I still love is Imagery Winery in Sonoma. Their labels are works from local artists and their wines are outstanding. Big fan.
favorite city to travel to? Be it food, locations, people, sports? #Tradar— Riley Schawo (@DKside41) February 15, 2017
First, it’s all about the food. It’s always all about the food. The sports in most of the stops is awesome, as are the people. Especially in Canada. Those people freeze their tails off for nine months out of the year and yet are the friendliest people on the planet. But I’m digressing. Montreal and Vancouver will always be two of the favorites for all of those categories you list. I love sushi, and Vancouver with sushi restaurants is like a U.S. city with Starbucks: there’s one on every corner. The differences are the sushi places aren’t overpriced and the product is good.
France, Italy or Spain for vacation? Please rate by order of preference.— Jose Vivar (@kauaiking2010) February 15, 2017
I’ve been to France twice, Italy once and haven’t been to Spain yet. And likely going to France again. So there it is.
#tradar. What wine would you recommend while watching a Hawks game ?— Raymond Riemer (@rayriemer) February 15, 2017
It’s wine and hockey, man. Whatever your preference!