Tag: Drew LeBlanc

Brandon Saad

Second-line center spot up for grabs in Chicago


There wasn’t a lot to dislike about the Chicago Blackhawks when they entered the 2013 playoffs. This was, after all, a team that had gone 36-7-5 in the regular season, easily winning the Presidents’ Trophy.

But if one had to nitpick, it might’ve been about the team’s second-line center, which at the time appeared to be veteran Michal Handzus.

The ‘Hawks had recently given up a fourth-round draft pick to get Handzus from San Jose, where the 36-year-old had scored just two points in 28 games. He was a bit more productive in 11 games with the Blackhawks, but productive enough to be a second-line center on a Stanley Cup contender? There were doubters.

Handzus ended up proving those doubters wrong, finishing with 11 points in 23 playoff games as the ‘Hawks went on to win their second championship in four years. He then re-signed for one more season in Chicago, at a modest salary of $1 million. Plus, he had a couple of surgeries.

Despite his surprisingly strong playoff performance, Handzus isn’t really the player the Blackhawks want playing second-line center next season. Nor will it be Dave Bolland, who was traded to Toronto.

Ahead of training camp, it’s young Brandon Saad who seems to have the inside edge.

“Saader is probably the guy we’re thinking maybe grab that spot, would be an option,” head coach Joel Quenneville said in late July. “It’s something we talked about as a staff late in the year. It’s something going into the season we could be exploring.”

Saad, 20, is coming off an outstanding rookie season, but that was playing on the wing. At center, there are additional responsibilities, particularly in the defensive end.

“Defensively, I think we can get him up to speed,” said Quenneville.

“At the end of the day, I mean I don’t really care who’s going to grab it, but it’s a nice spot for somebody.”

Other options include Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Handzus, Brandon Pirri and Drew LeBlanc.

Blackhawks announce a trio of signings


The Chicago Blackhawks added depth on their blue line and up front with a trio of signings that were announced Friday evening.

The Blackhawks agreed to terms on a two-year deal with forward Drew LeBlanc, who made his National Hockey League debut late in the 2013 season, and one-year deals with defensemen Theo Peckham  and Michael Kostka.

LeBlanc concluded a five-year career with St. Cloud State, before joining the Blackhawks towards the end of the lockout-shortened season. He played his first NHL game with the Blackhawks on April 24. In two games with Chicago, he was a minus-three.

The Blackhawks also added two players with NHL experience to their organization, in Peckham and Kostka.

Peckham comes to Chicago with 160 games of NHL experience from his time with the Edmonton Oilers, from 2007 to 2013.

Kostka was previously in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. He played in 35 games with the Maple Leafs this past season, but finished with a point-per-game clip in the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies.

PHT Morning Skate: Where Ryan Miller’s one game away from 500


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by how 23-year-old forward Drew LeBlanc did in his NHL debut on Wednesday. “He got better every shift,” Quenneville commented. (CSN Chicago)

Ryan Miller will play in his 500th career game on Friday. His agent Mike Liut, who played between the pipes in 664 NHL contests, reflected on Miller’s upcoming milestone. (Buffalo News)

19-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton is the winner of NESN’s Seventh Player Award. Past winners include Tyler Seguin and Tuukka Rask. (Boston Globe)

Adam Burish talked about how goaltender Antti Niemi has changed and what’s stayed the same since the two were members of the 2010 Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. (CSN Bay Area)

Daniel Alfredsson plans on making a Twitter account. The 40-year-old Ottawa Senators captain is concerned about it from a privacy perspective but at the same time he said, “it would be good for me to get involved in today’s high speed world.” (Ottawa Sun)

The Boston Bruins’ nominee for the 2013 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is Adam McQuaid. The 26-year-old defenseman dealt with blood clots and required two emergency surgeries that derailed his offseason routine. All the same, he made a full recovery and took part in the Bruins’ season opener. (Bruins.nhl.com)

After a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 30th place Florida Panthers are mercifully just one game away from finishing their season. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said there’s been some “hard lessons learned” and “it’s going to be a long summer.” (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Is San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture a major contender for the Selke Trophy and/or Lady Byng Trophy? (San Jose Mercury News)

Highlights from the New Jersey Devils’ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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