Blackhawks Mailbag: Will Hawks make another move before trade deadline?


As we begin this latest mailbag, a quick message from us to you: we wish you all a very happy, healthy and Merry Christmas. This is the time of year when the emphasis is on family, on helping others and on giving.

Yet, we’re still in the midst of hockey season. And in our latest mailbag the not-so-surprising questions were at the top of some lists: what will the Blackhawks be receiving, either now or at the trade deadline?

Well, let’s first get general manager Stan Bowman’s thoughts. He was asked if any other moves were coming after the Blackhawks got Rob Scuderi for Trevor Daley earlier this month:

“I’m really not looking at the deadline here. It’s mid-December,” he said at the time. “We’ve got a lot of hockey to be played and things change over time so whether it’s play or injuries, or certain other players emerging, we’re trying to stay focused. We’ve got a new player in the lineup here and we’ll see how that kind of settles down, but not really focused on moves. I guess that’ll pick up as we get going here and get closer to the deadline itself.”

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My two cents, I’m sure the Blackhawks will do something. One of the aspects about the Scuderi-Daley deal was the Blackhawks got some cap space out of it. Bowman said that was key. The Blackhawks haven’t had much wiggle room the last few seasons, so this gives them that when the trade deadline rolls around on Feb. 29. You look at what they’ve done the last few deadlines (last year a special case, certainly, with Patrick Kane’s LTIR status providing a ton of cash): they’ve done all right.

Now, let’s get to the rest of the mailbag. My apologies for those I don’t address this time.

I think Crawford’s been great lately. The guy won seven of his last nine starts, and that included three shutouts. Around the time his hot streak started Crawford talked about getting complacent when he wasn’t playing well. He never went into detail of what led to that complacency, but there’s no doubt he snapped out of it.

I thought he was fine. I think there are times he gets hesitant around the blue line with his passes. That’s not a good place to be overthinking. And his penalty was a bad-timing one: the Blackhawks had a pretty good deal of momentum at the time. Overall, though, the Blackhawks have to be thrilled with what the kid’s done to this point. He’s been a tremendous addition.

I’m throwing these two together. First, on Bickell: if the Blackhawks choose to send Bickell down again they’d have to go through waivers again, like they did before the season began in October. At this moment, I’m not sure if they’d do that but we’ll see.

As for Dano, I’ve said this before and cannot stress this enough: this is a 21-year-old kid with tons of potential but we have to tap (perhaps slam) the brakes on what’s expected of him now. I wish I could throw out the stats from Columbus last year because I think too many are assuming he would just do the same, or be even better, this season. He’s learning, and as Bowman said recently, they want Dano playing big minutes and in many situations. Right now, he wouldn’t do that in Chicago. Where do you fit him among the top six right now? Perhaps he gets in the top nine, but then we’re back to him not playing the necessary minutes. To trot out the line that Bowman told us with Teuvo Teravainen two seasons ago, everyone has to be patient. I think that worked out fine.

I’ll take the 2015 Cup team. I remember coach Joel Quenneville saying this year’s Cup was probably the toughest one to attain. A trying series vs. Nashville (I know they had that in 2010, too) with goalie changes and a tough, low-scoring series against the Tampa Bay Lightning gives the 2015 team my vote.

I don’t know if I’d say the Blackhawks are inconsistent right now. They won seven of their last 10 heading into the break. As far as big games, they’ve won some of those, too, as well as some games they probably shouldn’t have won (please see Buffalo). The Blackhawks don’t have the greatest road record (6-7-3) but many of those losses came earlier this season, when the Blackhawks were definitely struggling with inconsistency and a lineup that hadn’t come together yet. Regarding the potential “hangover” with points left on the table early? Perhaps. But I still think what they’ve done lately has helped tremendously.

Well, right now there wouldn’t be any changes due to the roster freeze and the fact that Hartman is suspended the next three games for Rockford. Mashinter didn’t play much the other night against Dallas, so who knows if the Blackhawks swap guys once the freeze is over. Hartman was up here earlier. I seem to remember his first game being pretty good but then things got quiet.

You got part of it in your answer: it’s going to depend on need and on what players are standing out in Rockford. Right now, I see the roster standing pretty pat once the freeze ends. There hasn’t been a dire need; the one the team did have recently was filling Marcus Kruger’s place, and Phillip Danault is doing just fine at that.

[MORE: Blackhawks in good shape heading into Christmas break]

There are a lot of good parts of the job. I love covering the game, love the travel and I’ve been fortunate to cover some pretty impressive events, even before I covered the Blackhawks. Worst parts are the travel (anyone who’s spent more than an hour in an airport knows it gets to you after a while) and how much you miss in life. You miss birthdays, some holidays, dinners, get-togethers, dates, all of that. I’m lucky that many in my life understand the job and the hours, but you still hate having to say “no” so often.

I’m not going to delve into off-the-record conversations or anything like that, because they’re off the record. I guess my favorite times would be on the road, when (if) I can get away from the rink and from the computer for a while: dinners, walking around a city, anything like that.

One can only hope. If nothing else, it can be a honing device for The Schwartz. 

Please don’t make me choose.

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