Question 1: A top-line left wing is required at the trade deadline. This is unfortunate, as it means the Blackhawks will have to give up worthwhile pieces if they wish to acquire such a player.
That is, unless they can find someone being wildly undervalued by a non-contender and help him realize his potential on the top six. But I don’t know that the Blackhawks have time to do that once they acquire said player at the trade deadline.
Lots of names have been tossed out — Jarome Iginla, Gustav Nyquist, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Tomas Tatar, P.A. Parenteau, just to name a few. It would be really interesting, to me, to see the Blackhawks acquire Tatar from the Detroit Red Wings.
He’s a restricted free agent after this season, for starters. He also makes less than $3 million a season right now, which is good news for the salary-cap-pressed Blackhawks.
He’s also a speedy guy who has top-six experience, is capable of producing points (career high is 56), doesn’t take a lot of penalties (104 in parts of six seasons) and — probably most importantly at this point — can possess the puck (career Corsi-for mark of 57.0).
Tatar is seeing the most defensive-zone starts of his career this season, which is still just 50.9 percent of his shifts. But he’s turning in a 51.3 Corsi-for mark. And considering the guy’s career zone starts are tilted toward the offensive end at a 58.2 percent margin, this would be a good look for the Blackhawks, who have some serious trouble managing the puck.
So you get Tatar on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, shift Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik to the bottom six to create a more formidable bottom six in house, and you have a much healthier looking forward corps. The question, of course, is what goes the other way in a trade.
Question 2: Everything CM Punk did or said was my favorite part of the All-Star Weekend.
The former pro wrestler and current UFC fighter is a big-time Blackhawks fan, so much so he was a color commentator during the 2015 Cup parade. The guy is knowledgeable and passionate about hockey, so it’s great they got him involved in the All-Star Weekend.
Punk also has a rivalry with Bailey, the Los Angeles Kings’ mascot. This was hilariously evident here:
And there was also this tidbit from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus:
The All-Star Weekend is all about players and their families, no doubt. But it’s great to get serious fans like Punk (real name Phil Brooks, if you care) involved in the festivities.
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Question 1: The Blackhawks have settled into the team that they are this season at the All-Star break: sound in net, reliable team offense, top-heavy defense.
The biggest holes left to fill would be a proven top-line left wing and a puck-moving, low turnover defenseman. Seeing as there is a log-jam defensively, adding another to the mix could get messy.
If the Blackhawks could find a top-liner like Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist or James van Reimsdyk without selling the farm, they could be set up for a deep playoff run.
Question 2: Best part of the All-Star Weekend is the Skills Competition. It’s a chance for the best players in the world to showcase their raw talents, have friendly competition between each other and, what is most important for the league, show off their wide range of personalities.
The Skills Competition gives fans a closer look at the players in a more relaxed setting and sees them playing just like kids again.