Tanner Kero

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Could the ‘Hawks be forced to move Anisimov?

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The question has become an annual tradition in Chicago:

Who are we going to lose this summer?

Seemingly every offseason, GM Stan Bowman is tasked with getting his team cap compliant, which usually means jettisoning a significant player (or two). Last year, it was Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen. The summer prior to that, it was Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad.

This year Scott Darling has already been sent to Carolina, and Bowman still has work to do. Could that include shipping out Artem Anisimov, one of the key pieces acquired in the Saad trade?

More, from the Chicago Tribune:

Anisimov has been rumored to be on the block given his reasonable contract and good production the last few years.

And the Hawks may believe they have potential second-line centers in Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero to play between Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

Anisimov, who turns 29 this month, just wrapped the first of a five-year, $22.75 million deal with a $4.55M average annual cap hit. That’s pretty good value for a guy that’s thrived offensively next to Kane and Panarin — this year, Anisimov scored a career-best 45 points, despite only playing in 64 games.

Had he stayed healthy and played all 82, he’s looking at close to 60 points.

Anisimov has a no-movement clause and, beginning in ’18-19, a modified no-trade (in which he can list up to 10 teams he can be traded to).

There have been other options floated in Chicago, of course. Many have pointed to Marcus Kruger — who makes $3.08M annually — as a candidate to be moved, and there’s been talk about trying to offload the remainder of Marian Hossa‘s contract (which runs through 2021).

The catch is that Anisimov would likely net a much higher return than Kruger or Hossa. Centers of his caliber, and with his cap hit, have pretty good value across the league. Getting something quality in return could be a necessity for Bowman, who vowed to make the team better after a disappointing playoff exit.

Longtime Berenson assistant Pearson named new Michigan coach

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Michigan went the familiar route in replacing legendary head coach Red Berenson.

Mel Person, who spent 23 years as Berenson’s assistant before taking the head gig at Michigan Tech, has been named the ninth head coach in UM Hockey history, the school announced on Monday.

“I am thrilled to select Mel to lead our hockey program and for him to return home to U-M following tremendous success in leading the Michigan Tech program,” said director of athletics Warde Manuel. “I’ve known Mel for years and experienced his leadership ability when I was the sport administrator for hockey and he was an assistant under Red (Berenson).

“Mel’s qualifications are well known throughout the hockey community and reach far beyond his ability to coach. Simply put, I couldn’t have selected a finer person to lead our ice hockey program into the future.”

Pearson, 58, took Michigan Tech to a pair of NCAA Tournaments during his six years on the job. Several players advanced to the NHL on his watch including Chicago’s Tanner Kero, Edmonton’s Jujhar Khaira and New Jersey’s Blake Pietila.

Two weeks ago, Berenson stepped down from his post at Michigan after 33 years on the job. Together, he and Pearson captured two national championships.

A rough Game 1 for Schmaltz, who needs to be better

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Nick Schmaltz‘s first NHL playoff game could’ve gone better.

The 21-year-old rookie was on the ice for the Nashville Predators’ only goal last night in Chicago, and he could’ve done a better job to stop it.

The goal ended up being the winner in a 1-0 Blackhawks defeat, and Schmaltz found himself demoted to the fourth line for much of the remainder of the game.

Stream Blackhawks vs. Predators on NBC Sports

As you can see in the replay, Schmaltz failed to check Ryan Johansen at the blue line, taking out linemate Richard Panik in the process. Johansen was then able to get a pass to Filip Forsberg, who one-timed it for Viktor Arvidsson to tip home.

Now, granted, it was only one game. Nothing to panic about. Schmaltz will probably be back with Panik and Jonathan Toews for Game 2.

But it’s worth monitoring, because the chemistry that Schmaltz found with Toews and Panik was one of the good stories this season for the Blackhawks, who searched for much of the year for a left winger to play with their captain.

Another rookie, Tanner Kero, replaced Schmaltz last night, and Kero acquitted himself fairly well.

Bottom line: whoever ends up filling the spot alongside Toews and Panik will need to be good, otherwise it could be a problem for the ‘Hawks.

Tootoo clarifies remarks about being on ‘right side’ of ‘Hawks-Preds rivalry

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On Thursday, Chicago forward Jordin Tootoo discussed his comments about being on the “right side” of the Blackhawks-Predators rivalry.

“I think there was a little misinterpretation there,” Tootoo said, per the Tennessean. “I’m at a point in my life where I’m very, very happy and content and grateful for the opportunity to play for the Blackhawks.

“I respect the city of Nashville and everything that it’s given to me. It’s that time of the year where every man is for himself. I’m a Blackhawk now.”

Blackhawks vs. Predators: Stream on NBC Sports

Following Wednesday’s practice, Tootoo — who spent the first eight years of his career with the Preds organization — raised some eyebrows with remarks made to the Chicago Tribune.

“Personally, when you play a team in the playoffs you learn to hate them quick, and it’s obviously a divisional rival,” he said of his former team. “Nashville and Chicago has always been a heated battle and it finally feels great to be on the right side.”

Tootoo, 34, was a fan favorite during his time in Nashville, a period that included personal struggles with alcohol abuse. He’s often credited Preds GM David Poile and former head coach Barry Trotz for helping him into the NHL’s substance abuse and behavioral health program seven years ago.

Tootoo has appeared in 50 games for Chicago this season, scoring two goals and three points. Based on yesterday’s line rushes, it looks as though he’ll open this series on the fourth line with Tanner Kero and John Hayden.

The ‘Hawks and Preds have faced each other twice in the last seven postseasons, with Chicago winning both series. The third installment gets underway tonight at the United Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Who’s going to win the Stanley Cup? PHT staffers make their picks…

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Sixteen teams out of 30 make the playoffs, but only one can win. Now that we know those 16 teams, we’re making our Stanley Cup picks again. Has anything changed our minds from the preseason? 

Jason Brough: Washington Capitals

(Preseason pick: Penguins over Blackhawks)

I would’ve stuck with the Penguins, but Kris Letang‘s injury swung the pendulum towards Washington. I just don’t see Pittsburgh winning four series with that defense. The Capitals, on the other hand, have three very capable, right-shot d-men in John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and deadline acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk. They’re obviously deep up front as well, with a much improved third line. Plus, they’ve got an excellent goalie. Bottom line: this really feels like Washington’s time. Granted, I said the same thing last year and was wrong, but only because the Caps ran into Pittsburgh. I don’t think the Pens will trip them up this year.

Mike Halford: Chicago Blackhawks

(Preseason pick: Lightning over Blues)

“That energy, that ambition and motivation is back,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said earlier this week. “We have that feeling again.” Without reading too much into a fairly stock quote, I’m buying what Toews is selling. Getting bounced by St. Louis in Round 1 last year might’ve been a good thing — it made the ‘Hawks hungrier, not unlike when they lost to Arizona in the opening round in 2012, then came back to win it all the season following. The energy angle is interesting, because it comes on two fronts: One is from all the young guys (Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, Tanner Kero) that’ve never had a deep playoff run before, and are all playing vital roles. The second? The old guys, back for another shot at glory — Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya, specifically.

Adam Gretz: Washington Capitals

(Preseason pick: Predators over Lightning)

Simply put, I think the Capitals are the best team in the NHL. They don’t really have any glaring weakness, they have elite forwards, are the best defensive team in hockey and only made themselves better after adding Kevin Shattenkirk, and they have a Vezina Trophy-caliber goaltender behind all of that. Yes, they have been the best team in the league before and it has not yet brought them a Stanley Cup, but sooner or later things have to break their way in the playoffs, don’t they? They can’t run into a hot goalie every year, can they? Their obvious challenge in the Eastern Conference is going to be if they have to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round again, but even that should be different than a year ago simply because the Penguins will not have Kris Letang in their lineup, which is a total game-changer.

James O’Brien: Washington Capitals

(Preseason pick: Stars over Penguins)

Much of what others have said about Washington’s depth and favorable luck (the Caps being healthy, peers such as the Penguins not so much) applies here. But allow me to add another wrinkle: the Capitals have some hungry players chasing raises. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, T.J. Oshie, Andre Burakovsky, Karl Alzner and Dmitry Orlov are the standouts among a slew of pending free agents who can boost their bank accounts via playoff heroics. “Greed is good” in sports, and it’s yet another feather in the Capitals’ … cap.

Cam Tucker: Washington Capitals

(Preseason pick: Capitals over Predators)

I am sticking with the Capitals. This is it. This is the year the Capitals get beyond the second round and win the Stanley Cup. And they’re going to do so by getting by Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the second round. It’s simple: The Capitals have just too many weapons. Look beyond the starting point of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Eleven different players reached double digits in goals scored and 11 different players had 30 points or more. They are stacked. If they remain healthy, they should get it done. Not only are they among the best scoring teams in the league, behind only Pittsburgh and Minnesota, but they allowed the fewest goals against. They’re among the best in the league on the power play and penalty kill. They have Braden Holtby in net. This is their time.

Joey Alfieri: Chicago Blackhawks

(Preason pick: Lightning over Stars)

The ‘Hawks got off to a decent start this season, but they really turned it on after their bye week in mid-February. Their 13-3-1 stretch allowed them to blow by Minnesota for top spot in the Central Division. The Blackhawks might not be as deep as a team like the Capitals, but they still have seven players (Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Hartman) that scored at least 19 goals in 2016-17. Add a group of veteran defensemen like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya, and a star goalie in Corey Crawford and you have a pretty solid team.