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Chicago Blackhawks: Reading Between Lines On Latest Moves

By Gail Kauchak
Apr 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) celebrates with Patrick Kane (88) after scoring a goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (not pictured) during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) celebrates with Patrick Kane (88) after scoring a goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (not pictured) during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won the game 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /
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Many Implications Being Made About Chicago Blackhawks’ Recent Deals

The Chicago Blackhawks have made a couple of lucrative moves over the last few days that have Chicagoland buzzing. Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether these deals were good or bad, and how it will affect next year’s team and their push for the Stanley Cup.

The truth is no one really knows how things will pan out, not even General Manager Stan Bowman or coach Joel Quenneville. But this is what we do, isn’t it? As fans of hockey, we are going to analyze it, and read and write about it. So without further ado, here’s this writer’s take on things.

Let’s start with the Bryan Bickell/Teuvo Teravainen trade. Why is everyone saying that the Hawks gave up Teuvo Teravainen in favor of Andrew Shaw?! This is like comparing apples to oranges, people! The Carolina Hurricanes would NOT have taken a package of Bryan Bickell and Shaw.

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The only way to unload Bickell was to give away a top young talent. It had to be someone like Teravainen. Oh, I’m sure the ’Canes would have happily taken Artemi Panarin. Now, I ask you, does Blackhawks Nation want that? Of course not!

Panarin came to the Chicago Blackhawks and exceeded all expectations last season, even when those expectations were already extremely high. He has vision, playmaking ability and great rapport with Patrick Kane. He also earned bonuses that will go against the salary cap this next year. And the ’Hawks have to think about getting him signed to a long-term contract.

In the meantime, yes, Teravainen was integral in winning a Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. But he did this while playing on the third line. Yes, he has great potential, but he never really found his place among the top-six forwards.

Some will say this is Coach Q’s fault for not giving him enough of a chance. This very well could be true. Perhaps 2016-17 would have been his breakout year alongside Jonathan Toews. But then he would be playing on the wing instead of his natural center position. Because the ’Hawks already have their No. 1 and 2 centers in Toews and Artem Anisimov, TT’s talents just didn’t fit into the lineup.

Not to mention that without this trade the Hawks would probably still have to deal with Bickell’s contract being on the books. We all know Bowman tried and tried to unload Bickell last season. It was something that eventually had to be done. This was a business decision that Bowman felt was necessary to make.

And we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. The main reason this is such an issue is because of Toews and Kane. Now don’t get me wrong, they both deserve their $10.5 million (cap hit) contracts. But trading Teravainen (to get rid of Bickell) is the kind of thing that is going to happen as a consequence.

Getting back to Shaw. This Bickell/Teravainen trade didn’t happen so they could keep Shaw. This trade made it possible to explore keeping Shaw around. Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, would it? He can conceivably play on any line, he has a nose for the net and he has great chemistry with all the core players.

He has heart, and drive, and grit, and Coach Q loves him. Everyone keeps saying there are plenty of players that can replace him. Well, no one has done it yet. Just don’t pay him a crapload of money, OK Stan? Keep it reasonable.

Oh, and did I mention that getting Bicks off the books gives the ’Hawks more room to lock up Panarin?!

Now, let’s talk a little about Nick Schmaltz. It was announced yesterday that Schmaltz and the ’Hawks agreed to a 3-year deal. Schmaltz is skipping his senior year at North Dakota to go pro. This kid is touted to be Teravainen’s replacement.

But let’s not get too carried away here. Teravainen himself had to spend time with the Rockford IceHogs before getting a chance with the ’Hawks. Remember Marko Dano? Same fate, and then traded. People already have Schmaltz in the Hawks lineup straight out of training camp.

Well, that could happen, but it’s more likely that he plays with the IceHogs for a bit. Developmentally, he’s still two years behind where TT was. I’ll admit, I haven’t researched him enough yet. Anyone know about his defensive play?  Because that could be a huge factor.

Next: Nick Schmaltz Signing

Well, that about does it. My ranting is done for the day. What do you think about the latest moves for the Chicago Blackhawks? Oh, and by the way, is it October yet?!

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