Jonathan Toews

PHT Morning Skate: Scott Darling gets tattoo to commemorate Stanley Cup win

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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.

Chicago Blackhawks’ backup goaltender Scott Darling got some ink done to commemorate the Stanley Cup victory. (Puck Daddy)

Ronnie Shuker takes a look at what a summer workout program entails for NHLers. (The Hockey News)

Chicago-area brewery, Hailstorm Brewing Co., has named a beer after Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews. The brewery now has Captain Serious #19 Pale Ale on tap. (Bar Down)

Following T.J. Oshie’s trade to Washington last week, a video of 5-year-old Libby Lu crying about the trade went viral. Oshie surprised Libby on SportsCenter over the weekend:

The Hockey News has the latest numbers on visor usage around the NHL. (The Hockey News)

The Toronto Maple Leafs may have finally unloaded Phil Kessel last week in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins; however, you’ll have trouble replicating the deal on the video game NHL 15. (Bar Down)

Photo courtesy of @chihawksart

Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets

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He’s only 22 years old. Yet twice already in his young career, Brandon Saad has hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Traded to Columbus on Tuesday, Saad officially signed a six-year, $36 million deal with the Blue Jackets on Friday.

Speaking to reporters in a conference call, Saad said he was “pretty certain” during the last few days since the blockbuster trade that a deal would get done with the Blue Jackets.

Despite his young age, he brings championship experience to a franchise that has made the playoffs only twice in its history.

Tuesday’s trade marked the end of Saad’s tenure in Chicago, a hockey market that has undergone a revival in the last 10 years and celebrated three championships in six years with the nucleus of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Saad believes his time in Chicago has been vital to the evolution of his career. He scored twice in the Stanley Cup Final, including the winner in Game 4. The Blackhawks never looked back from there.

“Just the experience of being there and going on deep playoff runs and being able to win … it’s really helped my game grow,” he said.

“It’s really incredible for my career. It’s really helped me progress along and I can’t thank them enough.”

It has already been talked about that Saad, coming off a career best 23 goals and 52 points this past season in Chicago, could play on the wing on a line with 22-year-old center Ryan Johansen, who also established a career best in points with 71.

“I’m not sure who I’m going to be playing with and we’ll deal with that when it comes but they’ve got a lot of talented guys and I know playing against them, for how hard they work and the type of system, they’re tough to play against,” said Saad, adding he’s played mostly on the left wing during his NHL career, but is familiar on the right side, too.

“With that talent and skill on top of that, it makes them lethal and I’m happy to be a part of the team now.”

Trade: Jackets land Saad; Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago

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Last week Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews acknowledged the team’s cap crunch, saying it feels a lot like 2010.

On Tuesday, the first domino fell.

The Chicago Blackhawks sent forward Brandon Saad and prospects Michael Paliotta and center Alex Broadhurst to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The deal came after Bowman and Saad’s camp were unable to agree to a new contract. Saad’s three-year $2.8 million entry-level deal was set to expire on Wednesday, making him a restricted free agent, and (as suggested in the tweet above) there were rumblings about him potentially signing an offer sheet elsewhere.

“We’re very excited to bring Brandon Saad, a 22-year old two-time Stanley Cup champion with great size, speed, power and the ability to score goals, to our organization,” said Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. “He is a proven winner and exactly the kind of player we want as a Columbus Blue Jacket.”

Prior to the trade, Chicago had roughly $8 million in cap space to play with for the 2015-16 season.

The move is a stunner on a variety of fronts. Bowman repeatedly expressed confidence throughout this season — especially during the Stanley Cup Final — that he’d be able to re-sign Saad, the 22-year-old forward that looks to be a star in the making.

For Columbus, it’s a big, bold move and the second out-of-nowhere deal orchestrated by GM Jarmo Kekalainen. At last year’s trade deadline, Kekalainen stunned the hockey world by trading injured forward Nathan Horton to Toronto for David Clarkson, considered to have one of the league’s most undesirable contracts.

Report: Oduya is already pondering offers, won’t wait for Chicago

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Johnny Oduya isn’t going to wait for the Chicago Blackhawks to sort out their cap issues, instead electing to hit free agency without hesitation, according to ESPN Chicago.

That same report indicates that Oduya, 33, has already received inquiries from “several” teams.

A couple days ago, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman indeed indicated that it might take some time for Chicago to figure out what they can do (and what free agents like Oduya and Brad Richards want), as CSNChicago.com noted.

“They need to decide where they’re going to go dollar-wise, and we need to figure out what we can possibly offer,” Bowman said.

This might be frustrating for Blackhawks fans, especially in the case of Oduya, who obviously served a big purpose in Chicago’s Stanley Cup run (which required grinding work by its top-four defense). At the same time, it’s clear that the Blackhawks are already in a significant cap crunch thanks in part to raises for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, so challenges are ahead.

One can imagine Oduya’s agent merely filling his “resume” with photos of the defenseman raising the Stanley Cup, but his value extends beyond that.

Oduya didn’t generate a ton of points (10 during the regular season), yet his time on ice numbers will be a significant selling point, as he saw his ice time jump to 24:45 minutes per postseason contest. You can read more about his situation here, but simply enough, there aren’t many experienced (and still fairly young) blueliners on the market who are on par with him.

All things considered, Oduya is almost certainly out of Chicago’s price range, and it doesn’t sound like either side is really denying that.

Toews, Kane featured on NHL 16 cover, set franchise firsts

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For the first time in the history of EA Sports’ NHL series, two teammates and the Stanley Cup will appear on the cover as NHL 16 will feature Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The last time the cover included two athletes was NHL 96, but that one showed Steve Yzerman and Scott Stevens competing against each other.

“Being teamed up with Jonathan for the NHL 16 cover is a great feeling,” Kane said, per EA Sports. “I never would have imagined being on the cover twice, and the fact this is happening on top of our team taking home the Cup is unreal.”

Kane was featured on NHL 10 while Jonathan Toews was the cover athletes a year later. They’re the first players to appear on the worldwide cover twice.

NHL 16 will be out in North America on September 15. You can see the game’s E3 trailer below: