Toews, Hjalmarsson out vs. Maple Leafs

681652.png

Toews, Hjalmarsson out vs. Maple Leafs

Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson are out tonight, but coach Joel Quenneville said Hjalmarsson is closer to returning as the Blackhawks prepare for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toews is still not skating, but Quenneville said he did some off-ice workouts this morning. There is still no timetable for his return.

"We've still got him going day to day and well see how hes progressing," Quenneville said. "Hopefully he can get better soon and get back on the ice."

Meanwhile, Hjalmarsson skated for the second consecutive day. He said he's feeling better but once again trying to get his conditioning back. Hjalmarsson said he started feeling off again during the Stars game last Thursday.

"I felt it pretty fast. But its tough to know when youre out for a while, too," Hjalmarsson said. "I thought it might have been because I was gone for so long, I was a little off balance."

In Saad’s case, re-acquiring Blackhawks alumni is beneficial

In Saad’s case, re-acquiring Blackhawks alumni is beneficial

* “Don’t look to the past anymore. It’s great to think you can recapture the magic with former players but years go by and times change.”

The sentences you see above were written by yours truly after the Blackhawks were unceremoniously eliminated from the first round in April. And for the most part, I stand by the message. The Blackhawks kept going back to their alumni well for solutions but, for the most part, it wasn’t working. But there’s always an exception to the rule, always one asterisk that can be applied in every situation (as we’ve done here).

In this case, that exception is Brandon Saad.

This isn’t someone who played with the Blackhawks five or more years ago. This isn’t a player who’s in his 30s. This isn’t a player who’s at the end of his career. This is a player in his prime, a 24-year-old who has a whole lot of game remaining and a whole lot of familiarity with this group, especially captain Jonathan Toews.

By the way, anyone else struck by the irony that the same Saad deal that the Blackhawks couldn’t afford two years ago is now one that fits perfectly, and will be really beneficial in two seasons when they don’t have to worry about trying to re-sign Artemi Panarin, who will be an unrestricted free agent?

Anyway, back to revisiting the past. General manager Stan Bowman admitted that he was hoping to bring Saad back into the fold at some point, although talks for this particular deal didn’t heat up until the past few days.

“Certainly it was a tough move a couple of years ago to have to make that trade [of Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015]," Bowman said. “Today my conversation had a much different tone. Brandon’s coming back and that chemistry is there right away and intensity and the way he plays. His all-around game is second to none.”

Saad said he wondered if he’d end up with the Blackhawks again at some point in his career.

“The day I was traded I talked with Stan and you part ways, but it’s a small league and there are always opportunities. It was definitely a thought in my mind possibly ending up in Chicago,” he said. “I didn’t think it’d happen this soon but that’s just the way it happened. It’s exciting to be back somewhere I’m comfortable, somewhere I know and an organization that’s had success.”

Yes, the Blackhawks went back to their alumni well. But instead of getting an aging veteran they’ve reacquired a kid in his prime. Every situation can come with an asterisk. This is one exception that will turn out well for the Blackhawks. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bye-bye Bread Man and Hammer; welcome back Saad

butler-stl-pod-623.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bye-bye Bread Man and Hammer; welcome back Saad

Sports Talk Live is on location at the NHL Draft Fanfest. Kap is joined by Pat Boyle (CSN Chicago), David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Tracey Myers (CSNChicago.com) and Jamal Mayers (CSN Chicago) to discuss the Blackhawks big trades plus the Bulls deciding to start a rebuild by dealing Jimmy Butler.

Listen to the full episode at this link or below.