Cubs send Kurcz to Red Sox as part of Epstein compensation

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Cubs send Kurcz to Red Sox as part of Epstein compensation

MESA, Ariz. All the top Cubs executives are here, with a Ricketts family board meeting on Thursdays agenda.

Theyve been watching games from an open-air box high above home plate. Chairman Tom Ricketts has been seen shaking hands and taking pictures with fans.

From ownership on down, theres said to be a new energy around the organization, and almost all of it can be traced back to the Theo Epstein hire. You probably cant put a price on that.

But the Cubs had to settle on compensation with the Boston Red Sox for getting Epstein out of the final year of his contract. The president of baseball operations got a bigger job and a better title.

Some five months later, the Red Sox got another prospect, 21-year-old right-hander Aaron Kurcz. A 10th-round pick in the 2010 draft, Kurcz spent last season mostly as a reliever at Class-A Daytona, where overall he went 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 82.1 innings.

Chris Carpenter a 26-year-old reliever who can throw around 100 mph and made his big-league debut last season already became the answer to a trivia question as the first player sent to the Red Sox camp as compensation.

The final piece left to the Epstein compensation puzzle is the prospect the Red Sox will send to the Cubs. Major League Baseball procedure forced the Cubs to structure this as a trade and not just giving away two prospects for a general manager who helped build two World Series winners.

The compensation for general manager Jed Hoyer and senior vice president Jason McLeod the two executives Epstein lured to the North Side from the San Diego Padres is said to not have a resolution yet.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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