Carcillo's injury provides big opportunity for Saad

985849.png

Carcillo's injury provides big opportunity for Saad

GLENDALE, Ariz. Daniel Carcillo will miss about a month with what looks to be a right knee injury, and Brandon Saad will likely start in Carcillos place on the top line when the Chicago Blackhawks face the Phoenix Coyotes tonight.

Carcillo will not need surgery for his injury, coach Joel Quenneville said after Sunday mornings skate. It was a tough blow for Carcillo, whose right knee got pinned between the boards and Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty late in Saturdays 5-2 victory over the Kings.

I thought that was the likelihood of what was going to happen, Quenneville said about the length of time Carcillo will miss. Quenneville was impressed with Carcillos game with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa on Saturday.

Its very unfortunate, Quenneville said. He finally gets back in and has 10 great minutes of ice time. I thought he looked very good on that line and it was a dangerous line for us. But you keep your spirits up, work through it and get excited to come back again.

Carcillos been down this injury road a few times now. He had season-ending reconstructive surgery on his left knee last January and suffered two right-knee injuries when he played for the Coyotes several years ago.

He knows the process of working in that rehab area and the commitment needed to get his game back to where it is, Quenneville said. Itll be a process but we look forward to getting him back.

Meanwhile, its an opportunity for Saad. The 20-year-old will make is 2013 debut tonight, and it sounds like hell just take Carcillos place with top liners Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

Saad is a young kid, has some ability. He sees plays and makes plays, Quenneville said. Danny has a little more versatility, that tough element. Guys are aware when hes around. But I thought Hoss and Johnny had strong games, and that lines (players) complimented one another. They got off to a good start, and hopefully (Saad) will just fit right in.

Saad said hell draw on previous experience, including his brief time here during the playoffs against Phoenix.

(The experience) is huge for me, he said. I played in Phoenix, too, so Im familiar with them a little bit. Its huge for my confidence and being comfortable out there.

Andrew Shaw, who played with Saad in Rockford, too, said Saad should contribute.

Hes unbelievable. He just has to do what he does, do what got him here, Shaw said. Hes a great offensive player and uses his speed well. He just has to take pucks to the net and play with confidence. Its a different, faster, higher-paced game up here. We all worked on it over the summer and got better.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”