Chicago Blackhawks

Hawks looking to add to the mix at trade deadline

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Hawks looking to add to the mix at trade deadline

Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011
4:20 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

With a day and change remaining until the trade deadline, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman still has his eye on depth and defense.

Bowman, who spoke as the Blackhawks wrapped up their Saturday afternoon practice at Johnnys Ice House, said theres still plenty of talk going on but nothing to report yet.

Were still looking for depth at center and a defenseman to eat up some minutes for us, said Bowman. Its the same thing weve been looking for over the last month or two. I think its about trying to find the right fit with salary and there are a lot of higher-price guys who dont fit into our plans. I think there are a lot (of teams) looking for a similar thing. Well keep talking. Hopefully something will work out.

The trade deadline is 2 p.m. CST on Monday. The Blackhawks will be in Minnesota playing the Wild that night.

The Blackhawks freed up roster and cap space when they put Nick Boynton on waivers on Friday. The 31-year-old defenseman was picked up by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. The Blackhawks have about 2 million in cap space as the trade deadline looms.

Bowman said were not adding an All-Star player to the mix. Were looking for a situational-type upgrade.

The Blackhawks traded Jack Skille and two others to Florida for Michael Frolik and goaltender Alexander Salak in early February, but Bowman said hed rather not touch the main roster again.

Were kind of starting to come together as a group. Its taken a while, but were not looking to change the core guys. Were looking to add to the mix instead of take from it, Bowman said. Were continuing down the path we charted a while ago. We dont think we need drastic changes here and hopefully we can do something.

The Blackhawks have won three in a row and four of their last five heading into Sunday nights game against the Phoenix Coyotes. If the Blackhawks stand pat, Bowman said hes happy with the product on the ice. If they can tweak, theyll do so.

Youre looking at things to make us a better hockey team. Things are always tight when you look at the economics of our situation. Deals are hard to make and its always a tough situation, coach Joel Quenneville said. At the end of the day we still like our team in a lot of ways, but if we can add depth or improvement in some areas, thats what were looking for.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Shots and slashes

It’s preseason: you don’t need a lot of build-up. Let’s just delve right in, shall we?

1. Lots of shots, but…

The same Joonas Korpisalo that the Blackhawks’ youngsters scored five goals against on Tuesday was on top of his game on Saturday. The Blackhawks peppered him with 54 shots but only two got through, and the second was a 6-on-4 power-play goal in the final two minutes.

“I thought we could have gotten a little more traffic in front of him," Nick Schmaltz said. "I thought we were playing along the outside. I mean we had some great looks. He made some big saves. Some nights you get the bounces and some nights you don’t.”

2. Bérubé’s Blackhawks debut.

Jean-François Bérubé had a tough sequence early in the second period, when he gave up two goals in a 28-second span. This was against a Columbus team that didn’t send many of their top players. He also didn’t see a ton of action in this one; the Blue Jackets fired just 21 shots his way.

3. Growing pains.

Alex DeBrincat had his up and down moments on Saturday night. His turnover led to Columbus’ first goal, he took a slashing penalty and he fought the puck quite a bit. You still saw glimpses of that skill, though, especially with his quick release. Hey, he’s a 19-year-old guy getting his first taste of the NHL. Nights like this are going to happen.

“We all make mistakes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You gotta be safe in certain areas and you learn from that.”

4. Slash-o-meter.

Four more were called on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if that number starts dwindling sooner rather than later, though, because the edict has apparently changed already. Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported earlier on Saturday that the league told officials to ease up on slashing and faceoff violations. But we all figure that’s going to happen once the regular season begins anyway, right?

5. Notre Dame bound.

The destination is familiar but the Blackhawks threw it into their second week of camp this season. It’ll be bonding time for the Blackhawks, who will send a smaller group for several practices there this week. Quenneville figures it’ll be a productive time. “We’ll get some bonding in, play golf together, have a nice outing, couple of road games and a nice campus.”

Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow

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USA TODAY

Nick Schmaltz's confidence, hold on second-line center, continues to grow

Nick Schmaltz seemed to be everywhere the puck was on Saturday night. Great pursuit of the puck, great passes to Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat and an all-around confidence that’s becoming more apparent by the game.

So has coach Joel Quenneville seen what he’s needed to from Schmaltz at second-line center?

“And more.”

It’s been a pretty impressive showing for Schmaltz this month. The 21-year-old has played in all three of the Blackhawks’ preseason games and keeps getting better in each one. The uncertainty Schmaltz understandably showed as a rookie is gone; the NHL game no longer feels uncomfortable.

“I feel like the game’s slowing down for me, just seeing plays,” Schmaltz said. “I know what I’m doing with the puck before I get it. It feels good and just trying to get better every day.”

Schmaltz and his fellow second liners didn’t connect for goals in the Blackhawks 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The three combined for 12 of the Blackhawks’ 54 shots on goal – Kane and DeBrincat each had five – and the chemistry continues to build between the three.

Jonathan Toews talked on Saturday morning of how much more relaxed Schmaltz looks with the puck now, and that was evident again later that night.

“He’s really starting to get comfortable physically at this level,” Toews said. “He thinks the game so well, puts himself in good spots, much like Kaner where he can skate with the puck and use his speed. He has his head up so he backs guys off. Those two were making great plays tonight and Brinksy was fitting in well. They couldn’t buy a goal but Schmaltzy’s getting better and better, and you’re’ seeing that calm poise that he has really come out the more he gets comfortable.”

Schmaltz was likely getting a second-line audition in some capacity this fall; the original thought was at left wing in the wake of Artemi Panarin’s trade. But Schmaltz has always felt at his best at center. He’s showing that. And more.

“It’s always fun to play no matter if it’s preseason or regular season," he said. "I’m always happy to play, especially when you’re playing with great players. I feel like I’m more comfortable in the middle, able to use my speed a little bit more, create more offense that way.

"I think it’s going well. Wherever I end up, I’ll be happy.”